Located at 48 Orcan Drive, the O’Reilly House Museum was restored by the Placentia Area Historical Society and opened to the public in 1989. It was subsequently designated a Registered Heritage Structure on the 24th April, 1999 by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Originally called “Brefery House,” this Balustrade Queen Anne Victorian house was built in 1902 by W.J. Ellis for the William O’Reilly family of Placentia. William O’Reilly was the Magistrate from 1897 to 1923. After he completed his tenure, the O’Reilly House served as home to the Magistrates of Placentia until the 1970s.
From the parlour and dining room to the master bedroom and the maid’s room, the museum showcases the trappings of life led by the O’Reilly family. In addition, the museum provides visitors with a glimpse of the vibrant history that has enlivened the Placentia area. For instance, one of the rooms exhibits the role that resettlement (this was a programme that was guided by the need to move people to so-called “growth centres” in Newfoundland and Labrador) in the 1950s to 1970s had on the people who lived in places such as the islands of Placentia Bay.
In relation, another room touches on the piece of history that ensured a place for Argentia in the history of the Placentia area. The exhibit focuses on the resettlement of the community and the development of the Argentia Military Base which began, in earnest, at the beginning of 1941.
The construction of the Argentia Military Base was occurring at the time of the historic meeting of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President D. Roosevelt at a then unknown and secret location in Placentia Bay near Ship Harbour. This took place on the 14 August, 1941. At this time, they drafted what came to be known as the Atlantic Charter, a document that helped lay the foundation for the establishment of the United Nations.
Another room gives visitors a chance to learn of the Basque, French, and English who loom large in the history of the Placentia area. In addition, the exhibit provides information on the people whose names have become synonymous with the early history of the Placentia area.
The museum also attempts to share how groups such as the Irish who migrated and eventually settled in the Placentia area, have had an enduring and memorable effect on its social and cultural history. Likewise, the museum also devotes a room to some of the notable individuals whose lives and work have contributed to the history and identity of the Placentia area.
Altogether, the O’Reilly House Museum is dedicated to offering visitors with an opportunity to learn about and experience the vibrant history that has brought life to the Placentia area for centuries.
Seasons Open: Summer
Hours Open: 10am-noon; 1pm-6pm
Fees: Adults - $2.00; Youth 6-14 - $1.00; Under 6 - Free
Wheel chair accessibility is possible for the ground floor.