Saturday, February 3, 2024

Hillary House Ball – Preserving Our Heritage

By Matt Maddocks. On Friday October 19th, 2012, a Hillary House Ball fundraiser is taking place at The Mansion in Aurora. This event is being held in support of Hillary House, Aurora’s only Nationally recognized Historic Site, and listed as one of Canada’s best examples of Gothic Revival architecture.

I’ve been to Hillary House a few times, and each time I do, I take in still more of its beauty and charm. You step back in time when you enter, not only because it’s an old building, but because it has largely been left intact. Many of the furnishings and household items have been preserved almost as if the residents only just stepped out, but never to return. Although intact, Hillary House has certainly not been left to wither. Structural maintenance and repair has been an ongoing process since the early 1980’s when the Aurora Historical Society took ownership.


Hillary House represents a significant part of Aurora’s history, not only for its architectural significance in its Gothic Revival style, but also the fact that it was home to three generations of medical practitioners, during a time when developmental medical research took us from leeches to penicillin. Dr. Robert Hillary, for whom the house is named, had served on village council, was Surgeon-Major of the 12th York Rangers, and participated in Aurora life through contributions to the agricultural fairs, leading the village orchestra, and delivering lectures and readings at the Mechanic’s Institute. Dr. Hillary took ownership of the house in 1876, and his descendants went on to live there for another ninety-nine years.

So to the fundraiser. The maintenance and upkeep of this significant heritage building takes money, and there aren’t many sources available. The Provincial and Federal governments contribute some monies, but most of the funding relies on grant applications which are never guaranteed. The money raised through the upcoming Hillary House Ball will go to help preserve and protect this gem, an important aspect of Aurora’s history.

If you can and would like to attend, please contact the Aurora Historical Society. By contributing to Hillary House Ball, you’ll be doing so knowing that your donation will be “just what the doctor ordered” for the continued health and well-being of one of Aurora’s lovely old grand examples of our rich history.

Matt Maddocks
Aurora, ON 

[1] Dining Room, Hillary House, September 2012, Photography by Matt Maddocks.


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