Oral tradition has it that Lane House was built in the 1830s by Irish immigrant Augustin MacNamara. This would make it the oldest built structure in Tilting.
The original house was constructed in a salt box style, a form of vernacular construction featuring a two-room ground floor plan with back linhay. This style was common among first-generation settlers. An ingenious spiral staircase connects the storeys, its construction similar to that of a wooden barrel. MacNamara was a cooper and it is possible that he transferred this knowledge to the design of the staircase. The second owner, Aneas Dwyer, raised the second storey, utilizing a centre hall plan. To compensate for incongruity in terms of window placement, trim board and decorative clapboard was employed on the ground floor to create a central stylist element. This combination of housing styles speaks to the skill of the builder (oral tradition reports that Dwyer completed the renovations in one day) and the impulse in many parts of Newfoundland and Labrador to recycle and redesign older homes.
In restoring Lane House, an attempt was made to demonstrate an ability to preserve some of the features of the original structure. Deteriorating asphalt shingles on the roof were replaced with wooden shingles. All clapboards, trim, soffits, and eaves were replaced, and inappropriate windows were replaced by historically-correct two-over two on the ground floor, and a unique one-by-one on the second floor. These were all constructed of wood in traditional patterns by James Youden of St. John's.
Inside the house, the semi-circular winding staircase had fallen into decay. It was repainted and its rail restored. The handrail collides with and intersects the ladder to the attic. According to architect Robert Mellin, "The builder could have simplified construction by compromising one of these two elements, but he chose to demonstrate his skill and carefully wove the two together." The attic revealed the transformation that had occurred in the late 19th century with the raising of the roof. To show this evolution, distinctive trim work was designed for the gable-end of the structure, which shows the original roofline of the building.
Lane House was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1994. It was restored by the Tilting Expatriates Association with the assistance of a grant from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. Robert Mellin donated architectural consulting assistance during the planning and restoration process.
Artifacts and exhibits have been collected, and the house is now open to the public as a museum during the summertime. It is presently maintained by TRACS (Tilting Recreation and Cultural Society). It stands as a testament to the dedication of a group of volunteers who wish to preserve and commemorate their community's history, and presents the best of our culture to visitors, so that they may understand our culture and way of life. The building also received the 1997 Southcott Award for excellence in heritage restoration, an award granted by the Newfoundland Historic Trust.
Also view the Lane House Registered Heritage Structure on the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador web site. The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site has on its site only a portion of the registered heritage structures in Newfoundland and Labrador. To view a complete list or search for a particular structure visit the Heritage Foundation's Property Search page.