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Rorke Store Registered Heritage Structure

Rorke Store, Carbonear, NL
Rorke Store, Carbonear, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

The Rorke Store is a gable-roofed wooden building located on Water Street in Carbonear, NL. Built in the 1870s, this building is an impressive and rare example of a merchant's premises in Newfoundland. The designation is confined to the footprint of the property.

Heritage Value

The Rorke Store was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1988 because of its historic and aesthetic value.

The Rorke Store has historic value because of its association with a prominent family in Carbonear - the Rorkes. The Rorkes ran one of the province's largest firms, dealing with trading, fishing and sealing. The Rorke Store was built for John Rorke, a prominent Carbonear merchant who served as a representative in the House of Assembly for 14 years. The firm operated within the family for 140 years. Additionally valuable is the long historical associations between the property and the mercantile business in Carbonear. The Rorke Store was known locally as the "Molasses Store" because it was where people could fill their molasses kegs. The Rorkes also supplied the community with cement, lime, iron, glass, paint, flour, beef and pork.

The Rorke Store has aesthetic value because of its many rare structural features. Constructed entirely of wood, this building is of a sort rarely seen in Newfoundland today. The mortise-and-tenon jointing of massive timbers within the building are reflective of a construction style not commonly seen anymore in the province. Also intact is the original slate roofing, significant because it is uncommon for a building to have retained an uneconomical slate roof after the advent of newer, more practical materials. Also, the roof is unusual in the fact that written on it using a lighter slate is the sign "John Rorke & Sons".

The Rorke Store has further aesthetic value due to its setting. Directly across from the building is the Rorke's Stone House - also a Registered Heritage Structure. This building served as the Rorke's residence during the time that they worked at the Rorke Store. Together the two buildings comprise the entire Rorke property, minus the East Store which blew down in 1999. Carbonear is one of a handful of places in Newfoundland and Labrador where a complex of such buildings has been preserved.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Carbonear - Rorke Store – FPT 1508”

Character Defining Elements

All original features which relate to the age and style of the building including:
- Wooden frame construction;
- Original windows and window placement;
- Original wooden doors and door placement;
- Slate roof with signage;
- Simplicity of exterior decoration and detail;
- Rubble stone foundation;
- Clapboard cladding;
- Timbers with Mortise-and-Tenon jointing, and;
- Location in respect to Rorkes Stone House.

Location and History

Community Carbonear
Municipality Town of Carbonear
Civic Address Water Street West
Significant 1870 - 1917
Style 19th Century Mercantile
Building Plan Rectangular Short Façade
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