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White House Registered Heritage Structure

White House, Portugal Cove, NL.
White House, Portugal Cove, NL.
White House, Portugal Cove, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

The White House, built between 1800-1830, is a two storey hip roofed house located in Portugal Cove, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The White House was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1986 due to its aesthetic, historic and cultural value.

The White House has aesthetic value as a noteworthy example of construction techniques employed by Irish settlers to Newfoundland. Of particular note is the large open fireplace or inglenook contained within the structure, a very rare example of Irish vernacular construction in the region. Made of stone, the thickness of the three walls range from 0.61 metres to 0.91 metres. These walls are approximately 1.83 metres high, with the rear wall measuring 2.59 metres in length and projecting side walls measuring 1.83 metres in length. The flagstone hearth floor covers 4.74 square metres. An open fire would be placed on this floor and two benches, which could seat upwards of ten people, were built onto the projecting walls.

Built sometime in the early nineteenth century, the White House has historic value because of its age and because it is one of the older intact structures in the region. Irish Studies scholar John Mannion has suggested that the house was built for the immigrant family of Michael White of County Wexford, Ireland in the early 1800s. Given the date of construction, the original owners would have been among the last wave of Irish immigrants to the island but continued to employ the construction techniques of earlier Irish settlers to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The White House has cultural value as it evokes a certain sense of time and place. Aside from the obvious functions of providing a cooking space and a source of heat, large open fireplaces - like that in the White House - were a place in which socialization occurred and cultural values were disseminated. As wood and oil stoves were introduced to rural areas, inglenooks became less common but kitchens continued to be centres of socialization and enculturation.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Portugal Cove - White House – FPT 1611”

Character Defining Elements

All those elements that reflect the Irish vernacular method of construction, including:
-large open fireplace (inglenook);
-number of storeys;
-hip roof;
-wooden roof shingles;
-location of porch on centre front facade;
-narrow clapboard;
-corner boards;
-window size, style, trim and placement;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors;
-chimney style and off-centre placement; and
-dimensions, location and orientation of building.

Location and History

Community Portugal Cove
Municipality Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's
Civic Address 131 Beachy Cove Road
Construction (circa) 1800 - 1830
Builder
Michael White
Style 19th Century Vernacular
Building Plan Square