Many of the buildings in the residential district of Germain Street were constructed in the latter part of the 19th Century or early 20th Century as all the older buildings were destroyed in the Great Saint John Fire of 1877. Designed by notable Saint John architect H. H. Mott, Lady Alice Tilley had this residence built in 1888 for her and her husband, naming the structure “Carleton House”. This two-storey brick building with a mansard roof and bay windows is an excellent example of Second Empire residential architecture from the re-building phase in Saint John.
Carleton House is also recognized through its association with Lady Alice Tilley. Alice Starr Chipman was born in 1845 at St. Stephen, the eldest daughter of Zachariah Chipman, a ship owner and merchant, and his wife Mary Eliza DeWolfe. On 20 October 1867 Alice married Samuel Leonard Tilley as his second wife. Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley was a former Premier of New Brunswick, as well as a Minister of Customs and Minister of Finance, Sir Tilley left active political life in 1885 due to failing health. He accepted the position of Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick for the second time and settled in Saint John. After his death in 1896, Lady Tilley continued to reside at Carleton House for over twenty years.
An active member of the National Council of Women since its beginning in 1888, she held the first organizational meeting of the Saint John Council of Women at her Germain Street residence in February of 1895. Active in the promotion of several charities and largely responsible for the establishment of the Victorian Order of Nurses in Saint John, this council was only one of many benevolent societies that Lady Tilley participated in throughout her life.
In honour of her philanthropic work, Lady Tilley was selected for admission to the Grand Priory of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John in 1912 and became a “Lady of Grace”. She remained at her Germain Street residence until her death in 1921.
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