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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Bossy

Moving Along with Layar & the Tillson Legacy

The Tillson Legacy is now moving into its final phases and you can check it out by clicking here.

However if you would like just a little taste of what you’re in for, here’s a sample about the interior decoration of Annandale House, built in the Aesthetic Art Style! It’s not a finished work but you get the idea. So grab your smartphone or tablet device, open the layar app and scan the photo. If you don’t know how to do that you can follow the instructions here.


…from the outside

The exterior of Annandale House is a quintessential example of Victorian architecture and the Aesthetic Art Movement in particular. With its detailed slate roof, substantial tower and intricate trusses and gables, the house stands out as unique and grandiose. Additionally, the Tillson’s embodied the ideology behind the Aesthetic Art Movement by using local workers and local materials for its construction. So while most houses in this style used red brick, the Tillson’s used Ontario yellow brick from E.D.’s own brickyard!

The Tillsons got the design for Annandale House from one of William M. Woolett’s books, Villas and Cottages or Homes for All published in 1876. The house is incredibly similar to Brick Villa No. 2 with only subtle differences including a raised roof line and the removal of a small gable on the west side, third floor. The front tower gave the house an impressive facade, protruding wider and higher than the rest of the house. Lined with windows on each floor (including six arched, single hung windows on the third floor), the tower provided well-lit, beautiful rooms on each of the three floors. From the roof, E.D. built a lookout that allowed him to survey all of his surrounding farm land at a moment’s notice. Workers often recalled him on the lookout with his trusty hand-held telescope surveying his land and keeping an eye on his farm staff.

Construction on the house’s exterior had several false starts due to family deaths, poor weather and E.D. having a calf injury. However, it was done in a meticulous and very careful fashion including the polishing of every single brick before being laid. By 1883 the house was ready to be moved into at a steep $30,000. This is the equivalent of approximately 1.3 million dollars today.

Scan this photo in layar and see what happens!

…from the inside

From the inside, Annandale house demonstrates all the fine details, heritage colors, intricate ceilings and local materials that are qualities of the Aesthetic Art Movement. The movement, popularized by Oscar Wilde (an American poet and playwright), was based on two main ideas. First, everywhere you look should be functional but also very beautiful. This extends to details on door knobs, door hinges and wall paper! There should be no white ceilings or single-coloured walls and everything should be hand-crafted and unique. Secondly, one should not simply import furniture from Europe but rather use native pieces and materials. E.D. and Mary Ann Tillson went to see Oscar Wilde speak at the court house in Woodstock on his Canadian tour of the House Beautiful and it is thought that this speech is what inspired them to decorate the house in this style.

Scan this photograph in layar to see more photographs of Annandale House’s interior details.

Almost all of the decor in Annandale House was handcrafted, not factory made. This includes the inlaid wood floors in the front hallway and vestibule that are made from four different kinds of local wood- cherry, oak, cedar and maple and the carved spindles on the grand staircase. Additionally, each piece of stain glass in the house was separately designed to fit the theme of the room in which it was placed. In the parlour, the stained glass on the French doors display a scene with flowers and bees. In the library, the stain glass on the double doors are of four very famous poets- Lord Alfred Tennyson, Robbie Burns, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and of course, William Shakespeare. In the formal dining room, birds adorn the stain glass above the door, matching the wall paper and ceiling paintings. It has been suspected that Mr. Tillson, himself a talented artist, designed these birds. Above the doors of the grand entrance are two hand painted crests- one being the Ontario crest with a fur-less beaver and the other being a Canadian Crest as of 1883 showing the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and PEI and reading, ‘The small under the protection of the great.” Finally, along the grand staircase, the windows depict scenes of aboriginals and Canadian pioneers with inlaid marbles that would be dropped into the glass while still hot. On the first floor, the grand entrance to the front of the home as well as the family entrance to the side showcase beautifully etched glass with scenes of birds and flowers. Each of the door knobs and door hinges in the house are engraved differently and intricately, showing how everything in the house was planned down to the very last detail.

The painted ceilings in the home are perhaps the most important piece of the Aesthetic Art Movement that make the house stand out for its unique style. Each ceiling is decorated differently, again fitting the theme of the room so that there are no white ceilings in the entire house. However, the higher one traveled in the house, the less detailed the ceilings became as few guests would see the second and third floors of the home. The ceiling designs range from bluejays, pineapples, constellations of Orion the Hunter, a parrot and many more- each as beautifully painted as the next.

Please scan to see a panorama video of the parlour.

Please scan to see a panorama video of the formal dining room.

That’s all for now folks! If you would like a printed copy of the project at its completion feel free to contact me by commenting on this or any of my posts with your name and information. Printed images can be scanned in layar too!

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