Let’s not trample our heritage
I write to express my concerns about plans by a group of overseas-based Jamaicans to host a series of parties on the grounds of the historic Devon House as noted in the January 10 edition of the Jamaica Observer.
As you may be aware, Devon House is the former home of the late George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire and part of the country’s historic architecture built in the native Jamaican 19th century Georgian style, inclusive of authentic Jamaican intricate fretwork designs, and is protected by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Additionally, Devon House is located in a residential section of St Andrew, and I am aghast at the cacophony of night noise this will create for residents on top of the damage that may result to the beautifully manicured grounds. As one of the few green spaces remaining in the capital, I am concerned, as I am sure most well-thinking Jamaican’s are, as to what sad fate awaits this historic site if these party promoters are allowed to proceed with their plans for their so-called Elite Weekend in Mach of this year.
Further, with a proposal by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation to name the intersection of Hope, Waterloo, and Trafalgar roads “George Stiebel Square” pending public discussion, such an assault flies in the face of this deliberation and would be an affront to the memory of this great Jamaican.
For those who are unaware, Stiebel’s building of this mansion was such an affront to the racist wife of the former English governor, Lady Musgrave, who could not bear to ride past it, that an alternative route had to be created, hence the genesis of Lady Musgrave Road. As the heirs of this great man we cannot likewise detract from his memory by turning his home into a dance hall.
Only recently Prime Minister Andrew Holness, speaking at the book signing of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett at Devon House, spoke to the need for Jamaica’s tourism to move beyond sea, sand, and sunshine by building a larger Brand Jamaica reflecting the country’s great heritage of struggle and achievement. Stiebel’s great monument is one such example.
We should not let ourselves down and squander our heritage on the altar of expedience.
Councillor, Whitehall Division
Former mayor of Kingston