The need for the Governors to have a permanent place to live in Britain’s colonies brought about King’s House. The official residence of Governors of Jamaica has always been called King’s House even during the reign of Queens.
The location of King’s House changed three times. It moved from its location in Port Royal in 1690 to Spanish Town in 1762, the former capital.
When the capital of Jamaica changed to Kingston in 1872, the Governor at that time, Sir John Peter Grant, who served as Governor from 1866 to 1874 chose Somerset Pen, now known as King’s House Lands to build the new King’s House.
The government bought the property for six thousand pounds. It was ideal, because the Governor resided in the Lodge while a new King’s House was built around it. The remodelled King’s House cost eight thousand pounds and the process of remodelling took two years. This King’s House remained until 1907 when it was destroyed by earthquake…Read More
Alongside plans for nationhood in 1957 were discussions for an official residence for the Prime Minister of Jamaica. It was proposed that the Mona Great House be purchased but that proposal was not pursued. Vale Royal, the former residence of the Colonial Secretaries, was identified by the Government as an appropriate residence and was refurbished for that purpose in early 1962.
The Government changed with the General Elections in April 1962 and the new Prime Minister decided that Vale Royal was not a suitable residence for the Prime Minister of Jamaica as it was too small and could not accommodate overnight guests.
On December 11, 1962, the House of Representatives approved Vale Royal as the official residence of the Minister of Finance. On February 10, 1963, the House approved a Resolution for the construction of a residence for the Prime Minister of Jamaica at a cost of Fifty Five Thousand Pounds (£55,000 or J$110,000). Thirty (30) of the 187 acres of King’s House Lands were allocated for the House, which would be located at 6 Hope Road, Kingston 6.
Hope Botanical Gardens
In 1881, two hundred (200) acres of Hope Estate was purchased by the Government to establish an experimental garden. Fifty (50) acres of the land was devoted to the development and distribution of new varieties of sugar cane, and ten (10) acres for planting teak, Liberian Coffee, Trinidad Cocoa and pineapples.
During the last fifty years Hope Gardens has been through periods of care and neglect. During the period of care the Garden became a place for pleasure, recreation, sightseeing and picnicking. The Garden is especially enjoyed by visitors including students from the nearby universities, who seek a quiet place to relax and study.
Adjoining the Hope Botanical Gardens is the Hope Zoo which has many animals from several parts of the world. The Hope Botanical Gardens and the Hope Zoo are located on Old Hope Road in the parish of St. Andrew.
St. Andrew Parish Church
The St. Andrew Parish Church was founded in 1664 and is one of the oldest churches in the country. It was founded some four years after Britain established civil administration following conquest of the island from Spain. It is named after the apostle Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.
Until the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in 1870, St. Andrew Parish Church was the only Anglican Church in the parish and had therefore responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the parishioners.
The first two church buildings were constructed some distance away from the current site but these were destroyed. The first church on the present site dates from the 1680s but it was destroyed in the 1692 earthquake. Rebuilding commenced that same year and the structure was completed in 1700. This building was extensively renovated and enlarged in 1879 and since then several additions have been made. This was necessary because of a growing congregation as well as the damaging effects of hurricanes. In 1907 another major renovation was undertaken as a result of the major earthquake that same year.
The Church has some of the oldest and beautiful monuments and memorials of any Church in Jamaica. Stained glass windows, installed after 1879, are an important part of the memorials of the church. The present organ, the fourth in the church’s history, was installed in 1978. The cemetery is one of the oldest in continuous use in the island and many prominent persons associated with the history of the Church are interred within its boundaries.
The St. Andrew Parish Church was declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust on April 3, 2003.
One of Jamaica’s most celebrated historical landmarks The Devon House Mansion is the architectural dream of Jamaica’s first black millionaire George Stiebel. Stiebel was among three wealthy Jamaicans who constructed elaborate homes during the late 19th century at the corner of Trafalgar Road and Hope Road, which fittingly became known as the Millionaires Corner. Daniel Finzi and the Verleys were the other families that resided in the area, however, both homes were eventually demolished to make way for development ventures including the construction of Abbey Court Apartments. Stiebel’s legacy lives on with the beautifully maintained Devon House, which was declared a national monument in 1990 by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
This house is a fine example of nineteenth (19th) century domestic architecture in Jamaica. It is a beautifully restored mansion and major source of attraction and place of relaxation.
The magnetic appeal of Devon House is not just in the beautifully restored rooms, with their antique furniture and lovely decorations, but also in the shops selling Jamaican craft items, and the restaurants serving authentic Jamaican food. It is a major source of pride for many Jamaicans.
The Hope Estate was named after its first owner Major Richard Hope – one of the officers in Cromwell’s army which took Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655.
Later, the property fell into the hands of Roger Elletson whose family owned it for some time. In 1752, a private bill was passed “to enable Thomas Hope Elletson, Esquire to take sufficient quantity of water for turning mills for grinding sugar, out of the Hope River.” Work commenced on this soon after the passing of the bill. Near the end of the aqueduct is a plaque inscribed: Hope Aqueduct A.D. 1758
The brick structure which is really a channel supported by columns with arches between them, runs north to south and is still used today by the Water Commission. The Hope Aqueduct was declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust on January 6, 2005.
Jamaica College Buildings
During the 18th Century when Jamaica prospered as a sugar colony, several large donations were made for the funding of schools. The objective of these bequests was usually to provide free education for the poor of the parish to which the benefactor belonged.
Jamaica College has its origin in a bequest of Charles Drax, a planter of the parish of St. Ann.
Drax in his will dated 1721, left money to establish a charity school in St. Ann. After much delay and legal proceedings, the money was handed over to the St. Ann Vestry. In 1802, the sum of £5200 was applied by an Act of the Legislature to the endowment of the School, which, since 1789, had been conducted by the Vestry of the parish by the Drax Free School.
During the governorship of Sir Anthony Musgrave in 1879, provision was made by law for the Jamaica Free School, under a new name, the Jamaica High School, to come under the supervision of the Jamaica’s School’s Commission. This law also authorised the relocation of the School. Initially, the Barbican Great House in St. Andrew was rented for the School which was removed from St. Ann on February 1, 1883. A site was eventually obtained at Hope, St. Andrew, where the School was reopened on July 9, 1885, by Sir Henry Norman, Governor of Jamaica. The first classes there took place in September of the same year.
In September 1890, a College which was known as University College, was opened in connection with the school. In 1902 a law was passed for the amalgamation of the Jamaica High School and the University College under the name of Jamaica College, by which it is still known.
Mico College Buildings
The structures are all comparatively old but have contributed greatly to the accommodation, spiritual well being, and education of teachers from the Negro population.
They form a part of the Mico College which was established as a result of funds bequeathed by Lady Mico in 1690 to her nephew Samuel, on condition that he marries one of his cousins. Samuel did not marry; however, in 1834 Thomas Fowell Buxton used the money to fund Negro Education in the West Indies. Mico College grew in size and stature and is one of the best Teachers’ Colleges in the West Indies. It has greatly contributed to the community socially and culturally.
Buxton House stands on the site of the original house, which was built in the 1890s under the administration of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. Following the disastrous 1907 earthquake and the subsequent fire in 1910, Buxton House was rebuilt in 1911 with less of the heavy Victorian character. The bell tower at the northeastern corner of the L- shaped building was donated by Buxton.
Historic Half Way Tree Court House
This Court House was built in 1807 and was approved by the Parish Vestry Committee in the following year. Members of the Vestry who met regularly at the Court House included Hon. Robert Osborn, Hon. Edward Jordon, Baron Kettlehodt, Hon. Joseph Gordon and his son George William Gordon.
The Court House was repaired in 1882 due to damage by a storm and two years later was repaired and repainted. The building was not damaged in the 1907 earthquake.
During the Second World War, the building was occupied by Imperial Censors. It was also the venue for the Second Junior Centre by the Institute of Jamaica and this was officially opened on December 12, 1941, and remained open at this site for over forty years.
The Old Court House has since been refurbished and is now administered by the St. Andrew Parish.
The old Jewish Cemetery at 1 Hunt’s Bay in St. Andrew, is an important landmark in the history of Jamaica as it is the oldest denominational cemetery on the island and is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the Western’ Hemisphere.
It was founded by the Jews of Port Royal in the latter part of the seventeenth century when a Jewish community flourished there. Port Royal was an impressive commercial centre. Jews who arrived there took a prominent part in its activities. The Jews excelled in the trade of gold and silver, and in money changing.
Those buried in the cemetery were brought by rowing boats from Port Royal. It appears that no bodies were taken to the Hunt’s Bay cemetery after the eighteenth century since the latest tomb that of Moses Ferro, bears the date 1771. In 1938, the cemetery was re-consecrated by Rabbi Silverman, a spiritual leader of the Jewish community and on that occasion Sir Edward Denham, then Governor of Jamaica, spoke of the need for the preservation of the ancient landmarks of the colony of which Hunt’s Bay was one. Today the cemetery has again fallen into disrepair. Many of the old tombs have a: trilingual inscription – Portuguese, Hebrew and English.
The oldest tomb is believed to be that of Abraham Gabay who died 6 NISAN 5432 (6th April, 1672).
Other tombs dating from the seventeenth century are those of Isaac Narbaes 1686, Esther Baruh 1689 and Rachael de Castro 1696. Many of the tombs have a rose and hourglass, symbolic of life’s fleeting hours chiselled on the stones. Others have a tree being cut down by a hand bearing an axe, while others a skull and crossbones.
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust declared the Old Jewish Cemetery national monument on July 15, 1993.
Source: The Sunday Herald May 12-18, 2002
Heritage Sites by Parish
- St. Ann
- St. Catherine
- St. Elizabeth
- St. James
- St. Mary
- St. Thomas
- Jamaican Heritage Sites