About Devon House
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.
Devone House Today
The Government of Jamaica became aware of plans to demolish the Devon House Mansion, and stepped in and stopped the negotiations by placing a restriction order on the property under the National Trust Act. The Daily Gleaner of August 27, 1965 reported:
“The Hon. Edward Seaga has served an Interim Preservation Notice on the building known as Devon House..the finest 19th century residence remaining in the island. In addition to the main building there are out buildings which are older than the main structure and containing some of the finest ovens and other brick work of the period. The Interim Notices are served by the Minister under the law when he considers that a monument is in danger of destruction, removal or damage and remains effective for a period of 21 months…steps are then taken during the period to ensure the preservation of the building.”
An English Architect Tom Concannon undertook the restoration of the Devon House Mansion as a matter of urgency. Concannon has worked on the restoration of other notable national monuments such as the Naval Hospital in Port Royal, Rose Hall Great House in St. James and old buildings in Jamaica’s old capital Spanish Town. Devon House was officially opened on January 23, 1968.
Sources: The Jamaica Archives, the Institute of Jamaica, the National Library of Jamaica, the Gleaner, Ian Randle Publishers Limited publisher of Devon House Families by Enid Shields.