Home / Accueil

White Elephant Building Registered Heritage Structure

Makkovik, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2000/12/02

Exterior view of front facade, White Elephant Building,Makkovik, Labrador, circa 2004.; 2004 Virtual Museum of Labrador
White Elephant Building (Makkovik, Labrador)
Exterior photo of the White Elephant Building under restoration, September 2002.; HFNL 2006
White Elephant Building under restoration
Historic postcard of the first Moravian Church in Makkovik, transported from Germany in 1896, and destroyed by fire in 1948.; HFNL 2006
First Makkovik Moravian Church

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/01/18

Statement of Significance

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 has been designated as a Registered Heritage Structure because of its historical and aesthetic value.

The White Elephant Building has historical 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 the 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 designation file M-034-004, Makkovik - White Elephant Museum.

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.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type



Special or Training School

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street St. John's A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places