Rorke’s Stone Jug is a Georgian style, rubble stone, two-and-a-half storey building located on Water Street in Carbonear, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Rorke’s Stone Jug was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985 because of its aesthetic and historic value.
Rorke’s Stone House is particularly notable as a rare 19th century example, outside of St. John’s, of a mercantile premises built entirely of stone. Construction started in 1860 to replace the premises that had been lost in 1859 to a massive fire that destroyed much of Carbonear and the building was completed in 1863. Rorke’s Stone House is a large Georgian style building that stands two-and-a-half storeys and is made of stone cut on Kelly’s Island in Conception Bay. The building also has a steeply pitched roof with peaked dormers which originally had a slate roof. The lower floor is characterized by large shopfront windows. This floor was used for mercantile operations selling dry goods, the second floor was used as the Rorke family living quarters, and the third floor was reserved for servants and apprentices, an arrangement that was typical of mercantile premises of the time in Newfoundland. Two large timber warehouses located across the street (one of which blew down in a windstorm in the late 20th century) stocked a large variety of consumer goods. Of the Rorke Premises it was said, “you could buy everything from a needle to an anchor.”
One of the few stone buildings still standing in Newfoundland, and the only one in Carbonear, the Rorke House is a landmark building in the community. It is located in a heritage district within Carbonear, and is directly across the street from the Rorke Store, another Registered Heritage Structure.
John Rorke, who owned one of the most successful business firms in Newfoundland in the 19th century, was born in Ireland in 1807 and came to Newfoundland at age 17 to work as a clerk for a local firm run by his uncle. By age 23 he started his own business and married Mary Tocque, daughter of another prominent local merchant. He was heavily involved in the Labrador “stationer” fishery and dealt in the fishery, sealing, ship building and mercantile businesses, along with international commercial trade with the West Indies and Europe. Between 1839 and 1920, the Rorke firm had 48 ships registered ranging from 50 to 150 tons. John Rorke was influential in constructing the railway between St. John’s and Hall’s Bay. Rorke represented the District of Carbonear in the House of Assembly for 14 years, and in 1879 became a member of the Executive Council. On his retirement he had the title “Honourable” conferred upon him by Queen Victoria. John Rorke died in 1896 and the business passed to his sons. The Rorke firm continued to be run by various members of the family until the 1970s, when it finally closed after 142 years.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Carbonear – Rorke’s Stone Jug – FPT 1507”
Character Defining Elements
All those architectural features that speak to the age and construction of the building in the Georgian style, including:
-rubble stone construction;
-two-and-a-half storey building;
-steeply pitched roof;
-second floor divided into 8 bays;
-6/6 wooden windows;
-peaked dormers with 6/6 wooden windows;
-large, wooden showcase windows on ground floor;
-gable end chimneys, and;
-building height, dimensions, and massing.
All those features which speak to the building’s landmark character in the community, including:
-location on the main street close to the waterfront, and;
-proximity to Rorke Premises across the street.
Location and History
Town of Carbonear
232 Water Street
1860 - 1863
Rectangular Long Façade