Gingerbread Houses, Jamaica

With so many Jamaican homeowners embracing modern design, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see gingerbread houses, especially ones that seem relatively new. Gingerbread houses probably came to Jamaica around the turn of the century.

My friend and I spotted this gingerbread house in Trelawny. We had spotted some lovely green bananas and stopped to buy a bunch. The house was directly across the street from the farmer and the minute I saw it – it was such a delight to see – I forgot why we’d stopped in the first place.

After he cut the bunch we decided on, I asked the farmer who asked the resident who graciously allowed me to take a photo. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the owner and couldn’t tell me much about the house, like the year it was built, for example. We guessed it to be about 50 years old.

Gingerbread houses

Another day, another drive, this time in Westmoreland. I was surprised by the number of houses I saw that had gingerbread designs.

Similar in design as the one above, this sand-dashed house has sash windows, French doors, and detailing on the eaves. Sand dashing is a process that is used to retard fire in homes made from timber.

Residential Styles:
Similar style, Westmoreland

This eye-catching house sits on the side of a hill and at a bend in the road. We had to drive slowly on the way back so I wouldn’t miss it. We called but no one came to the door and a really high gate kept us out. I was a little bummed that I couldn’t get closer but I managed to put my camera on top of the gate, and extended the lens so I could get this shot.

Residential Styles, gingerbread house
Colorful house surrounded by tropical plants

A house like this, with its wooden shingled roof, is rarely seen these days. Wooden shingles are attractive to look at and keep the home cool but are the most expensive roofing material on the market. In addition, the shingles offer no protection from fires and are very labor intensive to install. Eventually, owners exchange them for corrugated zinc, which is less expensive.

Residential Styles
Victorian house with wooden shingles

Devon House and the shops on the property have some of the most beautiful gingerbread designs. When I took these photos last July, workers were replacing the wooden shingles on the shops in the background.

Gingerbread houses, Jamaica
Shops at Devon House


Linking 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.

25 comments on “Gingerbread Houses, Jamaica

  1. I really love homes that are indicative of the locale and these gingerbreads are just that colorful, whimsical and just so Jamaican…fantastic

  2. And there I thought I was going to have a mouthwatering post about edible gingerbread houses. Still interesting to see these places and all the detail. The corrugated iron doesn’t have quite the look of the shingles but it makes sense to use the stuff.

  3. We have houses exactly like these where I live. They are called Queenslanders here, although they can be found out of Queensland. A Queenslander is always timber, on stilts (high or low) and with a Verandah. Sometimes as families grow the verandah will get walls added. Then we say it is built-in. Although it gives extra room it cuts down on the original idea of the verandah to keep the house cool. Isn’t it funny to think of the exact same thing on the other side of the world?

  4. Love your photos of these houses, and they so remind me of the old weatherboard houses which are predominant in Western Australia especially in the little country towns. So similar with the verandahs, stilts and wooden structure. Really interesting to read about Marcia, thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. I admit this wasn’t what I was expecting when I saw gingerbread houses on your title 🙂 But, I love how these houses are so colorful and charming. I hope you spot many more sprouting in Jamaica.

  6. What cute houses. No wonder they are called gingerbread houses! We have some similar houses in Queensland called Queenslanders! They are usually made of timber, raised off the ground and have a verandah at the front…very similar to you gingerbread houses.

  7. Those are cute little houses and look very cozy, Marcia! I like cozy. Why are they called Gingerbread Houses? I enjoyed this as always 🙂

  8. Hi Marcia, these gingerbread houses are certainly charming. It’s nice that some people still opt to construct with this design up to this day. They remind me of the gingerbread houses in Oak Bluff, Marha’s Vineyard, MA.
    I particularly like that house on the hill surrounded with tropical plants. You did a good job shooting it from outside the gate. I also like that house with wooden shingle roof.

  9. Its good to see the older styles still in place. It looks so beautiful. I too love looking at the old doors and windows in my native village, its such a refreshing change from what we see in cities. Have a good day Marcia 🙂

  10. That they are, Sophie. Gingerbread refers to the carved wood that’s used just below the roof, on doorways, windows and verandahs. They’re also called “Painted Ladies” in the US. They’re all Victorian.

  11. Thanks, Arti! I agree with you. It’s refreshing to see these because some of what passes for modern, especially in the city, is just hideous glorified boxes. Hope you have a great day as well.

  12. You’re right, Mike, they do look cozy.
    Gingerbread or Painted Ladies are from the Victorian period. Back then, people would carve designs into the wood and use that as decoration, as you can see just below the roof. Sometimes it’s also on doorways, windows and verandahs. In the US, they’re also called “Painted Ladies” because of the vibrant colors they used to paint the houses. Whether they’re known as gingerbread houses or Painted Ladies, they’re all Victorian.

  13. I love these houses with the wide verandahs to keep out the heat – they
    remind me a bit of what we call “Queenslanders” and the old houses in
    I always enjoy going on travels with you through your camera Marcia. Thanks!
    Have a great weekend.

  14. Thanks, Jill, I always enjoy going along with you as well.
    I like that – Queenslanders. We’ve all been influenced by the architecture of the Victorian period.
    Hope you have a good rest of the week!

  15. I find it really cute. These gingerbread houses seemed cozy and would be ideal for a small family. You don’t normally see these kinds of houses in the city.

  16. So true, Pamela. I found these in the rural parts of Jamaica.
    Thanks for stopping by. Your bike tours look cool. One of these days I’ll make it to Aruba and take one.

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