The Festiniog Poor Law Union was formed on 8th May, 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 22 in number, representing 15 parishes in the area of Snowdonia. In 1831, the census showed that the population that fell within these parishes was taken to be 11,489; around the same time, the poor-rate expenditure was 7s.4d. per head. A few years later in 1839 the Poor Law Commissioners authorised the construction of the Festiniog Union Workhouse, in Minffordd to the east of Porthmadog. The total expenditure was £3,200, and the building which was to accommodate 150 inmates. This building broadly followed the square layout, with the entrance and administrative block fronting onto the road to the south. The original building comprised of just the central two-storey five-bay section, but was later enlarged with single-storey extensions to each side. Furthermore, at sometime towards the end of the 19th century, the casual/vagrants ward accommodation block was constructed. This building included twelve sleeping/work cells where inmates slept on wire metal beds without a mattress; six of these wards where work/sleep cells and the other six were for sleeping only. As a way to earn their stay, inmates worked within the work cells to break stones to a small enough size to fit through the metal grids fitted to the external walls.
After 1930, the Union was redesignated as a Public Assistance Institution, then in 1954 became council-run home for the elderly, accommodating up to 68 residents. The site closed around 2008/9 and has sat empty since. The buildings were listed in 1990 as it represents a remarkable example of the small square pattern Union Workhouses.