Refurbished Seville Great House now open to tours
LOCATED on the North Coast of the island, New Seville, in St Ann, is said to be the place where one of the first encounters among the peoples of the Americas, Africa and Europe, took place.
The 301-acre property, on which the Seville Great House/Heritage Park is situated, still has relics that tell a story about the people who inhabited the island hundreds of years ago.
The Great House/Heritage Park, home to some of those relics, is itself a monument of historical value. It is owned and operated by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT).
Refurbished recently at a cost of some $37 million, the Great House is again open for visits and tours daily.
Operations manager at the Seville Great House and Heritage Park, Claudette Anderson, says that the refurbishing work — which started in 2010 — was completed last November.
"It (refurbishing) was very extensive. We (replaced) all of the roof and the flooring. We installed air-condition units, which were never there before, and installed fans. With the help of the Spanish Foundation, we did a whole new state-of-the-art exhibition, which includes DVDs that show simulations of what the property looked like when the house was first built," she says.
"It was a collaborative effort by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the Spanish Foundation," Anderson adds.
She notes that the Spanish Foundation made a special contribution towards the exhibition that is mounted.
A guided tour of the facility — which costs US$15 for an adult tourist and US$6 for a child and J$800 and J$300 for locals — lasts for about 45 minutes.
According to Anderson, the trained tour guides give visitors a brief history and overview of the facility, which is a museum within a great house.
"So, you get a tour of the inside of the Great House, which is the museum, and a tour of the outside of the Great House, and that would include replicas of the African House and the Taino Village, along with the graves of the past English owners," she points out.
Anderson says that visitors, particularly students, have expressed delight at the re-opening. "A few schools came in and saw what we have done and they are really excited and want to come again," she adds.
The operations manager says that there are long-term plans to further improve the facility, and to include other ruins and relics across the main road in the tours.
"I would like to encourage all Jamaicans to visit the Great House, as this was the first place that four of our main cultures met — the Taino, the Africans, the Spanish and the English. This was where Christopher Columbus was shipwrecked for one year in 1503 to 1504, and this is where the Spanish established their first capital town," she points out.
"This is our birthplace where we all came together as a nation for the first time. So, I would like to urge all Jamaicans to come out and have a look at what is here," she adds.