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White-Irwin House

119 Water Street, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1993/01/07

South side ell, White-Irwin House, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
South side ell
Front elevation, White-Irwin House, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Front elevation
Rear elevation, White-Irwin House, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Rear elevation

Other Name(s)

White-Irwin House
Samuel Marshall House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The White-Irwin House is a large, two-and-a-half storey Neo-Classical style house located on the corner of Water Street and St. Patrick's Lane in Shelburne. The house is one of the oldest in the town, built in 1784-85 by Loyalist Samuel Marshall. The building and property are located in the designation.

Heritage Value

The White-Irwin House is valued for its long association with the history of Shelburne and Nova Scotia and as an excellent example of the Neo-classical style in Shelburne.

Construction of the White-Irwin House began in 1784 by Samuel Marshall, a United Empire Loyalist, who had recently arrived in Shelburne, then known as Port Roseway. He was one of several thousand Loyalists to arrive in the area, settling in Shelburne to escape the American Revolution. The house was sold later in 1785 to Charles Whitworth, also a United Empire Loyalist who had arrived in Shelburne in 1782 with his wife and family. Charles made this his home until 1792.

The house was later passed to Nathaniel Whitworth White while he was still a child. Nathaniel was the son of Loyalist Captain Gideon White and Charles Whitworth's brother-in-law. Gideon was also a Loyalist and member of the Port Roseway Associates and was influential in the founding of Shelburne. He was appointed justice of the peace and later judge of probate.

Around 1840, the Reverend Thomas Howland White and his family became the owner occupants of the house. Reverend White was the Rector of Christ Church in Shelburne from 1836 to 1896. The house remained in the White family until 1908.

In 1913 the house was purchased by Robert Irwin who owned a mill, exported lumber and for a short time managed the Joseph McGill shipyard. Irwin represented Shelburne County in the provincial legislature from 1906 to 1925 and served for eight years as Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. In 1937 he was appointed Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia. The house stayed in the Irwin family until 1978.

The White-Irwin House is one of the oldest houses in Shelburne and among several surviving Loyalist homes in the town. The two-and-a-half storey home is located on Water Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the town, in close proximity to other homes of a similar age. The house has remained fairly unaltered, although at some point in its history Scottish dormers were added to two sides of the hipped roof of the main house and two on the front of the ell. The house contributes greatly to the Loyalist character of Shelburne.

Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 167, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the White-Irwin House relating to its Neo-classical style include:

- form and massing;
- wooden cladding;
- two-and-a-half storey main house;
- symmetrical five bay façade of main house;
- hipped roof at one end, gabled at the other;
- five-sided dormers located at the attic level;
- one-and-a-half storey ell with two hipped dormers;
- capped six-over-six windows on front and side façades;
- original kitchen fireplace;
- large granite water cistern and a round-headed, brick cupboard in the basement;
- prominent location on Water Street.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer



Samuel Marshall

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Property program files, no. 167, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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