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White House

Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1M, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/10/23

Exterior view of front facade, White House, Portugal Cove/St. Philips, NL.; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2006
White House, Portugal Cove, NL.
Interior view of central fireplace showing seating area, White House, Portugal Cove/ St. Philips, NL.; HFNL 2006
Interior, White House, Portugal Cove/ St. Philips
Exterior view, White House, showing side facade with linehay at rear.; HFNL 2006
White House, Portugal Cove/St. Philips

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/10/27

Statement of Significance

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 is designated because of its architectural significance and historical and cultural values.
The building has architectural 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 building has historical value because of its age, being 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 building is culturally significant 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 unnumbered property designation file, Portugal Cove - White House

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.



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

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer



Michael White

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

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

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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