Devon House Revisited

I’ve written about Devon House but only recently returned to do a tour of the Georgian style house, which is located in Kingston. Devon House was built in 1881 for George Stiebel on a property that was known as Devon Penn.

Devon House, a Georgian mansion built in Kingston in 1881
The fountain

Popularly described as Jamaica’s first black millionaire, Stiebel, the child of German and Jamaican parents, was a carpenter, shipper and gun runner. He struck gold after he invested in a mine in Venezuela and made a fortune, returning to the island a rich man. Stiebel got involved in politics and business, bought 99 properties — it was illegal to own 100 or more – and built Devon House.

Devon House lower vestibule
Vestibule
Partial view of the upper vestibule at Devon House
Vestibule with wing backed and planter’s chairs

The house features classical Georgian lines – simple form, detailing and symmetry. It was built entirely of brick and wood with high ceilings, carved transoms over elegant doors, and ample louvered windows that circulate air efficiently throughout the house. The furniture is a mix of Jamaican, English and French antiques, and reproductions. The large 35-foot ballroom is, without doubt, the mansion’s showpiece with its Broadwood piano, Wedgwood ceiling and English chandelier that Stiebel bought.

Devon House, the Palm Hall featuring painted murals on walls
Palm Hall, with partial view of the living room
Formal dining room at Devon House
Dining room with Chippendale dining table

Stiebel married Magdalene Baker in 1851 and had two children Sigismund, named after his father, and Theresa. When he died in 1896, the mansion passed to Theresa, then Theresa Jackson, the only surviving child. It was later sold to the Melhados in 1922, then to the Lindos, who lived there until 1965. Devon House was turned over to the government of Jamaica. Today, the mansion, which sits on 11 acres, is known as one of the premier destinations in Kingston to enjoy culture, art and heritage, the lush grounds, and its very popular “I-scream” (ice cream).

Master bedroom with canopy bed at Devon House
Master bedroom
Partial view of the master bathroom at Devon House
Part of the master bathroom
A room for games at Devon House
A room for games
A sewing room with fainting couch at Devon House
Sewing room with fainting couch
Wedgwood ceiling and English chandelier at Devon House
The 35-foot Devon House Ballroom with Broadwood piano

The mansion has been restored several times, the latest in 2008. Many of the old buildings from Stiebel’s time are still in use. For example, the Grog Shoppe was the horse and carriage stable and blacksmith’s shop; the Courtyard Shops were servants quarters, and the current Devon House Bakery used to be the kitchen. When I visited recently, workers were replacing the wooden shingles on these buildings.

The welcoming entrance to Devon House
Entrance to Devon House
The expansive lawn at Devon House
Devon House lawn

Devon House Particulars

Tours run on weekdays only with the last tour at 4:30 p.m.

Cost: $10, per person, includes ice cream.

Devon House is located at 26 Hope Road in Kingston.

 

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

29 comments on “Devon House Revisited

  1. Beautiful tour Marcia, I loved all the detail work of this home, but really I could enjoy the whole day just lounging in one of those chairs in the veranda with a good travel book!

  2. Wow, I’d lvoe to live in this house! It’s beaiutiful. I like that it;s not stuffy for an old house. It looks so warm that it seems like people still live there. Siebel’s from-rug-to-riches story is interesting. I find it fascinating how much properties he amassed. Does he have other homes like this somewhere in Jamaica?
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  3. You’re welcome, Mary. It was interesting getting a peek into the way the wealthy lived back then.
    The ballroom was very impressive. It wasn’t difficult to imagine the parties that took place there.

  4. Stiebel was an astute businessman, owning all those properties. The mansion was the jewel in his empire.
    Going to Devon House for ice cream is the thing to do, it’s a hit with people of all ages.

  5. So do I, Michele. I’m not surprised that your kids don’t.
    It’s definitely an impressive ballroom. I had no idea that Wedgwood did ceilings until I saw it here.

  6. I think you’d be quite comfortable there, Leigh.
    Apparently, women’s corsets were so tight, they could hardly breathe and they fainted a lot.
    Yes, the ice cream is a lovely touch.

  7. It definitely looks like there is more than a bit of culture and heritage to be found in this property. It’s good to know that after being sold several times the Jamaican government owns and can take care of it now. What a great cultural jewel.

  8. He was quite an interesting man, for sure. From the research I’ve done, this is the only house and property from his collection that remains. The others have been sold.

  9. It is, Richard. The government prevented its sale to developers but I haven’t found anything that confirms its sale to the government. I assume it might have but can’t say for sure.
    Thanks for your visit.

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