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Devon House Jamaica

Devon House is a Georgian style mansion that was built in 1881 for George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire. Though having a German Jewish father, Stiebel’s mother was black and in photographs, he appears to have more of his mother’s color. Stiebel was born in 1820.

When he was 20, Stiebel’s father, Sigismund, gave him start up money to buy a ship which he used to transport cargo between North and South America. Eventually, he acquired two more ships and became involved in the lucrative gun trading. This landed him in jail in Cuba.

Several years later, Stiebel lost everything, except the money he had secured in his money belt, when one of his ships went down near Venezuela with him on board.

Devon House, Jamaica

Devon House, Kingston Jamaica

Stiebel remained in Venezuela and rebuilt his fortune returning to Jamaica 15 years later a wealthy man from his investment in a gold mine.

He purchased nearly 99 properties (apparently, at the time, it was illegal to own 100) including two sugar estates and a wharf at Church Street. His gold mine, however, made him very wealthy. He began building Devon House for his wife, daughter and son-in-law on 51 acres that included wells, a racetrack, tennis courts and swimming pool at Devon Penn. The house had a library, sitting room, sewing room, ballroom, gaming room, and verandahs on different floors.

Its location, at the corner of Trafalgar Road and Hope Road, became known as Millionaires Corner for the three millionaires – George Stiebel, Daniel Finzi and the Verleys – who built mansions there. Of the three, Devon House is the only one remaining.

Devon House, Kingston Jamaica

Devon House, Kingston Jamaica

Stiebel died in 1896, his only daughter Theresa in 1922. Following her death, the house was purchased by the Melhados, then purchased and restored in 1968 by the Government of Jamaica. Devon House, now a historical landmark, is decorated with French, English, Jamaican and Caribbean antiques and reproductions. The ballroom boasts the original English chandelier that Stiebel had bought for the room. The Wedgewood style ceiling is original to the house.

Today, Devon House is known as a venue that promotes Jamaican art, culture and food. It is also well known for its “I-Scream,” which comes in 27 flavors including guava, sweetsop, mango, coconut, pineapple, chocolate and Devon stout.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner


  1. Muza-chan says:

    Beautiful, I love Georgian style houses 🙂

  2. That’s quite a history of Jamaica’s first black millionaire. It sounds to me like this guy would have been interesting to sit down and have a meal with. He sounds, shrewd, intelligent and persistent.
    And as for the house – it’s lovely!
    Leigh recently posted..A Surprisingly Delightful Visit to Dinosaur Provincial ParkMy Profile

  3. interesting piece of Jamaican history–love cultural blog posts like this one. Lovely photos 🙂

    – Maria Alexandra
    nomadic translator recently posted..European Halloween traditions and festivalsMy Profile

  4. What an interesting story. I love the house too! In fact, I want to live there 🙂
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..Beer & Gossiping during Medieval Times!My Profile

  5. What a beautiful place and a fabulous story. He had a pick-yourself-up-and-try-again attitude. Jamaica is full of characters.
    Narelle recently posted..Talking about Triple PMy Profile

  6. Average Traveller

    That’s a beautiful looking house and an amazing story! Imagine having to build your fortune twice!
    Average Traveller recently posted..Capture the Seasons Travel TipsMy Profile

  7. Interesting story, and a beautiful landmark.
    Nancie recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday — October 11, 2012 — A Bangkok MomentMy Profile

  8. Looks like a nice place to live!
    Dick Jordan recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: “Window Shopping”My Profile

  9. What a beautiful shade of yellow… I love that home. The I-Scream sounds wonderful. I would love some too. 😉
    ElizOF recently posted..Reflections: A Moment Of Happiness…My Profile

  10. Isn’t it? The Stiebels apparently lived there for 10 years and had many, many parties.
    Both Stiebel and his son-in-law were active in politics.

  11. Now that I look again, it looks more peach than yellow… Must be the thought of delicious i-Scream clouding my mind. 😆
    ElizOF recently posted..Reflections: A Moment Of Happiness…My Profile

  12. I’ve gone there several times, to shop, to eat ice scream and each time, it just blows me away.

  13. He was one determined person. I probably would have given up the first time.

  14. You’re so right, Narelle. We seem to know how to do that very well.

  15. It’s certainly a prestigious address, Debbie. I hope you’ll let me come have tea.

  16. Glad you like it, Maria. Thank you!

  17. He was all of those things, Leigh. I was surprised to read how determined he was.
    I’m glad his house still stands.

  18. Thanks, Muza-chan. We’ve got quite a few of them here.

  19. Danyelle Franciosa says:

    The mansion was so huge and beautiful. I am browsing some other Travel Photo Thursday and it’s nice to see pretty photos there.
    Danyelle Franciosa recently posted..Allkind Joinery Brisbane – Upholding a Proud TraditionMy Profile

  20. I love these Georgian style architectural Jamaican treasures you’ve posted. What a beautiful house and an even more interesting story of its owner. It looks so grand and stately I would love to do a tour inside. I’m looking forward to reading your tour inside in a future post unless I missed it 🙂
    Mary recently posted..Las Vegas with Kids: 5 Free and Fun Attractions on the StripMy Profile

  21. Cathy Sweeney

    What a beautiful house. I guess Stiebel did very well, even with the mishaps and misfortunes. Interesting story, Marcia.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Featured Museum: A Dalinian ExperienceMy Profile

  22. What a fascinating story and a beautiful house! So nice that the government has purchased it and made it a national landmark rather than letting it fall into disrepair or have someone purchase it and remake it into a modern house.

  23. He certainly did, Cathy, not just in business. He was appointed custos of Kingston, a largely civic and influential position. Yup, he did well.

  24. Like you, I’m definitely glad that the government stepped in, Lisa, or we probably wouldn’t have had the house and this fascinating story.

  25. Hahaha, must be, Elizabeth. You’re right, it is more peach.

  26. I agree, Elizabeth. It is a beautiful home. I can just imagine the parties.
    Each time I’m in Kingston, I have to go there for I-Scream.

  27. Thanks, Mary. Devon House certainly has an interesting history — can’t wait to do a tour.

  28. I am back after a short hiatus! What a wonderful story and the building looks great. Have a nice day Marcia 🙂
    Arti recently posted..Meiji Jingu Shrine In Tokyo: A Walk In PeaceMy Profile

  29. Welcome back, Arti. Hope you had a good time.
    You’re right, this is a great story — I was impressed by George Stiebel’s determination.

  30. It is, Danyelle. Thanks for stopping by from TPThursday.

  31. What a wonderful and fresh palace. Thank you for posting this kind of story.
    Danyelle Franciosa recently posted..Allkind Joinery Brisbane – Upholding a Proud TraditionMy Profile

  32. You’re welcome, Danyelle. Glad you like it.