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

32 comments on “Devon House Jamaica

  1. 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!

  2. That’s a beautiful looking house and an amazing story! Imagine having to build your fortune twice!

  3. Now that I look again, it looks more peach than yellow… Must be the thought of delicious i-Scream clouding my mind. 😆

  4. The mansion was so huge and beautiful. I am browsing some other Travel Photo Thursday and it’s nice to see pretty photos there.

  5. 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 🙂

  6. What a beautiful house. I guess Stiebel did very well, even with the mishaps and misfortunes. Interesting story, Marcia.

  7. 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.

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