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Government House National Historic Site of Canada

80 Military Road, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/06/12

Corner view of Government House, showing the rear elevation with the greenhouse, 1993.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1993.
Corner view
General view of Government House, showing the central entrance under a projecting portico, 1993.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1993.
General view
No Image

Other Name(s)

Government House
Hôtel du gouverneur
Government House National Historic Site of Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1827/01/01 to 1831/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/08/12

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Government House National Historic Site of Canada is a large, dignified mansion in the Palladian style. The two-storey building consists of a centre block flanked, to its east and west, by lower wings. The relatively plain exterior walls are of rough, red sandstone, with contrasting English Portland stone used for quoins and other details. The building stands in spacious treed grounds on a hill overlooking the harbour in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It has been the official residence of Newfoundland’s governors and lieutenant governors since 1829. Official recognition refers to the building and its grounds.

Heritage Value

Government House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1982 because:
- it was the official residence of the governor of Newfoundland until Confederation in 1949;
- like other government buildings of the era, it is in the Palladian style.

The heritage value of the Government House resides in its symbolic and functional role as an official residence and in its Palladian style architecture as expressed by its design, material and detailing. The site and setting also hold value. The house was built between 1827 and 1831 for Sir Thomas Cochrane, the first civil governor of the colony of Newfoundland, and marked the transition of the colony from a naval to civilian government. Cochrane commissioned plans from England, and the structure was built by imported Scottish craftsmen. Once Cochrane moved into the residence in 1829, it remained the official residence of Newfoundland’s governors until Newfoundland joined the Canadian confederation in 1949. After that, it became the official residence of the lieutenant governor and continues to serve as such. The building’s Palladian style remains intact and it retains much of its original interior furnishings and fittings.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June, November 1982.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the building’s continued function as Newfoundland’s primary official residence;
- its Palladian style as illustrated by its pavilion massing with prominent central section under a hipped roof, flanked by slightly lower and recessed wings, a central entrance under a projecting portico, tall end chimneys on each block, symmetrically organized elevations, evenly spaced multi-pane sash windows, and window and corner quoins;
- its original construction materials including timber, local rough red sandstone, English Portland stone trim and slate roofing;
- its centre hall plan and the original volumes of the major public spaces;
- the classically inspired interior fittings and furnishings, notably the cantilevered staircase in the east wing and the decorative plaster ceilings of the principal rooms, the skylight and columns in the entrance hall, as well as those elements symbolically associated with particular residents;
- the surrounding ditch functioning as a basement light-well;
- the siting, set-back from Military road;
- the setting of spacious, landscaped and treed grounds.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1982/06/12

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Residence
Single Dwelling

Historic

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

Royal Engineers

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

241

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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