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White Elephant Building Registered Heritage Structure

White Elephant Building, Makkovik, NL
White Elephant Building, Makkovik, NL
White Elephant Building, Makkovik, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

The White Elephant Building is a one-and-a-half storey wooden building with a mid pitch gable roof. Built in 1915 by the Moravian Mission, the building is located in Makkovik, Labrador. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The White Elephant Building was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2000 because of its historic and aesthetic value.

The White Elephant Building has historic value because of its association with the Moravian Missions in Labrador. While their main objective was to introduce Christianity to the Labrador Inuit, the Moravians also made a great impact by providing medical services and education to Inuit and settler populations. Makkovik was established as a Mission station in 1896 - the White Elephant Building being the oldest remaining structure built by the Mission in the community. Constructed with the assistance of the community, the White Elephant Building was meant to serve as a boarding school, but has seen many uses over the years, serving as a dispensary, nursing home and residence for teachers and nurses. Many residents of Makkovik can trace their own personal history to the White Elephant Building as it was used by midwives when delivering babies.

The White Elephant Building has aesthetic value as it is one of few remaining examples of Moravian architecture on the north coast of Labrador. Built to serve a utilitarian function, the structure is minimalistic in its decoration and uniform in terms of design.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Makkovik - White Elephant Building – FPT 1585”

Character Defining Elements

All those architectural features associated with the vernacular design typical of early twentieth century Moravian Mission architecture, including:
-mid pitch roof;
-mock beam at gable peaks;
-number of storeys;
-narrow clapboard;
-corner boards;
-window size, style, trim and placement;
-shed dormer on right front facade;
-dormer placement and style;
-dormer window size, style, trim and placement;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors;
-location and style of porch on centre front facade;
-chimney style and placement;
-stone foundation;
-attached ladders on gable ends;
-white paint with green trim on exterior; and,
-dimension, location and orientation of building.

Location and History

Community Makkovik
Municipality Town of Makkovik
Construction 1915 - 1915
Moravian Missions
Style 20th Century Vernacular
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade
Website Link