Bleak House Registered Heritage Structure
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Description of Historic Place
Bleak House is a two-and-a-half storey, wooden house that was built around 1826-27 for Fogo merchant, John Slade. The house is a representation of a 19th century merchant house and has been home to three of the most prominent merchants in the history of Fogo, NL. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Bleak House was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985 for its historic, aesthetic and cultural value.
Bleak House has historic value for its association with the mercantile trade in Newfoundland. Built around 1826-27 for prominent local merchant John Slade, Bleak House has been home to three of the most influential merchant families in the history of Fogo. The Slade family ran a highly successful merchant business in both Twillingate and Fogo. Furthermore, John Slade (manager of the Twillingate premises) represented the Fogo-Twillingate district and became the youngest MHA (Member of the House of Assembly) in Newfoundland history at the age of 23. The Slade family lived in the Bleak House until the mid-19th century when the house was sold to Slade’s former bookkeeper, John Owens. Owens married advantageously and built a successful business for his family in Fogo. In 1897, with the death of Owens, the property was bought by Owens’ partner, Henry Earle. Earle and Company was the most successful merchant business in Fogo and Twillingate from 1902 until 1967, when the fishery collapsed. Today, through the historical associations with the Slade, Owens and Earle families Bleak House stands as a testament to the success of the merchant business in Fogo during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Bleak House has aesthetic value as it is an excellent example of a 19th century merchant house in rural Newfoundland. Bleak House is the physical manifestation of the distinction between the merchant class and the fishing class in rural Newfoundland. The architectural style is more elaborate than that of the traditional vernacular architecture of rural Newfoundland during this period. Many of the original architectural features are clearly indicative of a style native to West Country England, the home of John Slade. Furthermore, the appearance and size of the house in the context of the community is a testament to the importance of the families that lived there.
Bleak House has further aesthetic value due to its environmental setting. It is located atop a small hill overlooking the town of Fogo and this location is indicative of the importance and influence of the merchant families who lived there. It is highly visible on the landscape from both the land and sea.
Bleak House has cultural value as it is a remnant of a past way of life, evoking a sense of a time gone by. The merchant life has faded from Newfoundland culture and merchant houses are some of the only remaining reminders of the influence that merchants had on the development of rural Newfoundland.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Fogo - Bleak House – FPT 1538”
Character Defining Elements
-prominent location of house within community;
-2-storey centre bay on front façade;
-window placement and style;
-steep gabled roof;
-decorative use of clapboard on the bias;
-pediment at top of centre bay;
-use of traditional materials such as narrow wooden clapboard and wooden windows;
-varying rooflines and multiple porches; and
Location and History