Devon House reflects a variety of influences, as does the city in which it's located, the vibrant, English-speaking Jamaican capital Kingston. The preserved home, filled with treasures from another era, has been preserved and carefully restored. Today, this national monument in Jamaica is open for tours. Whether you want to add some culture to a spring break vacation or peek into the past, a visit will be a fascinating addition to your plans.
Devon House Image: Jamaica Tourist Board
Once was the home of a man from humble beginnings who found a great fortune, Devon House was built in 1881. George Stiebel, whose parents were a Jewish merchant and housekeeper, prospered from investments made in Venezuelan goldmines. In the second half of the nineteenth century, he purchased properties all over Jamaica. On 53 acres purchased from the Saint Andrew Parish, he constructed his dream home and filled it with fine furnishes, paintings, rugs, and other luxuries. Jamaica's first black millionaire was one of three wealthy residents who built grand homes at the intersection of Trafalgar Road and Hope Road. This area, known as Millionaires' Corner, is only a few miles from Hellshire Beach and the scenic Kingston Bay.
The story of how Devon House in Jamaica became a house museum is more recent. By the time the Jamaica National Heritage Trust declared it a national monument in 1990, Devon House had been open to tours for 25 years. After the final owner, a widow, decided to move to New York City, plans were drawn up to turn the land into condominiums.
The government stepped in and hired the English architect who had worked on restoring other cultural treasures including the Naval Hospital in Port Royal and the Rose Hall Great House in Saint James. After it was declared a national monument in Jamaica, the house continued to welcome visitors. In 2008, an extensive improvement project wrapped up, refreshing the landscaping, overhauling the irrigation system, and improving the infrastructure.
Tours of Devon House in Jamaica allow you to see what grand estates looked like during the colonial era. This particular design has been called Jamaican-Georgian, with a combination of formal symmetry and island elements. The furniture and antiques reflects Caribbean, Jamaican, English, and French influences. You'll see the influence of the islands with the bright colors, light-filled rooms, and tropical landscaping.
Devon House is Jamaica has established itself as a fine place to shop and dine. After walking through the house, you can stop for an ice cream cone, visit the bakery, taste local cocktails, and enjoy a tasty Caribbean-style lunch. Places to shop include Rum Roast and Royals, which carries a variety of locally-made and grown products like coffee, jellies, and liqueurs. Other shops specialize in art, home décor, apparel, and accessories.
This national monument in Jamaica is a part of a city with deep historical roots. Kingston alone boasts nearly 30 national monuments, while the neighboring communities of Saint Catherine and Saint Andrew add approximately another 20 monuments to the list. On a walking tour that includes Devon House, you can see an array of historical treasures with a 1.5-mile radius, including the African Caribbean Institute, the Ward Theatre, the Supreme Court, National Heroes Park, and Coke Methodist Church.
Kingston is also known for its thriving nightlife, fusion restaurants, golf, and the former home of Bob Marley that's now a museum. You'll also have the chance to enjoy time at the beach. A short boat excursion to Lime Cay, an uninhabited island, will lead to one of the best beaches in Jamaica. This secluded beach is a favorite place for soaking in the sun and going snorkeling among coral reefs and underwater caves.