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Ryer-Davis House

Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/06/15

Front elevation, Ryer-Davis House, Shelburne, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Front Elevation
Side elevation showing grambrel roof line, Ryer-Davis House, Shelburne, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Side Elevation
Rear elevation showing earlier and later section, Ryer-Davis House, Shelburne, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Rear Elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1784/01/01 to 1784/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/05/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Ryer-Davis House is a simple, unadorned Dutch Colonial style house located at Shelburne, NS. The house faces Shelburne Harbour and is one of Shelburne’s several Loyalist-era homes. Both the house and the property are included in the provincial designation.

Heritage Value

The Ryer-Davis House is valued for its association with the settlement of Shelburne and for its relatively unaltered Dutch Colonial design.

The home was built in 1784 for Joseph Bell, a local tanner, shoemaker who arrived in the newly settled community of Shelburne from New England in 1783. Bell was one of thousands of Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia, escaping the American Revolution, and arrived in Shelburne aboard the “Prosperous Armilla” accompanied by his wife, one child and a servant. The Bells’ left Shelburne in 1790, part of a mass exodus that almost left the town deserted. The house was sold to local merchant Valentine Nutter and in 1851 it passed to shipwright James and wife Jennet (Cameron) Ryer. It remained in the Ryer family until 1914 when it was sold to lumberman Arnold C. Davis and remained in the Davis family for many years.

While the interior of the house has gone through many changes, the original framing, roof line, portions of the foundation and rounded stair case remain. Other historic elements such as the fine work around the windows and doors also remain. The gambrel roof section of the house was probably built first and the gable section was added circa 1789. Recently a sympathetic restoration of the house was undertaken that returned some missing original elements, including eave returns and wooden six-over-six windows.

The Ryer-Davis House is one of the oldest in Shelburne and stands as a reminder of Shelburne’s Loyalist history.

Source: Province Heritage Property file no. 76.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Ryer-Davis House include:

- one consistent roofline visible from front elevation;
- one-and-one half stories;
- rear and side elevations showing gambrel and gable roof lines;
- all original and historic interior elements including trim, floors, fireplaces and stairwell;
- partial original foundation;
- remains of original beehive oven;
- original roof sheathing with Roman numerals;
- asymmetrical front façade;
- six-over-six wooden windows;
- location within the original township of Shelburne.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Property Program files, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS, B3H 3A6.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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