KSAMC could rename intersection near Devon House 'George Stiebel Square'
A view of Devon house from the garden at the rear of building. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

THE Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) is considering a proposal to rename an intersection near Devon House in St Andrew the George Stiebel Square.

According to a notification from the KSAMC, the proposal is to name the intersection of Hope Road, Waterloo Road, and Trafalgar Road in St Andrew in honour of Jamaica's first black millionaire, who built Devon House.

According to the KSAMC, the honour is being bestowed on Stiebel, a gold mine owner, shipper, and farm owner who shared a refund of some $16 million when the mine in Latin America was capitalised. He returned home to share the wealth in purchasing new vessels, two sugar plantations, a wharf at Church Street in downtown Kingston, and properties at Great Salt Pond and Minard's in rural Jamaica, among a number of other investments.

The KSAMC said Stiebel made numerous contributions to the municipality and was an outstanding Jamaican.

A section of the garden on the property which is a green space used by thousands daily, including people who visit to get a cone or cup of the now-famous Devon House ice cream.

The corporation said that as part of the stakeholders and public consultation process within its confines, a town hall meeting will be held on Thursday, August 17 in its main office at Church Street and Tower Street in downtown Kingston starting at 5:00 pm.

The board of directors of Devon House has already defined Devon House as "one of Jamaica's most celebrated and historic landmarks", and as a beautiful blend of Caribbean and Georgian architecture, "furnished with an expertly curated collection of Jamaican, English, and French antique pieces and reproductions".

It added: "The mansion overlooks a vast expanse of perfectly manicured and lush, green lawns, and Stiebel's legacy lives on with the beautifully maintained Devon House", which was declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust under the instructions of late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, as minister of development and welfare with responsibility for cultural affairs.

Stiebel, who lived through 1821-1896, was a Jamaican trader and entrepreneur who became notoriously known as the "black millionaire", shipping between North and South America. He was made a Companion to the Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Victoria before he died on June 29, 1896 at Devon House with none of his relatives close enough to him.

Front view of the Devon House mansion (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Stiebel left school at age 14, starting out as a carpenter before using assistance from his father to purchase two ships and set up a sea transport system between North and South America. After his ship sunk off the coast of Venezuela in 1856, he returned to Jamaica a wealthy man in 1873, with millions of dollars when the mine was capitalised.

Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew was named after Jeanie Lucinda Musgrave, who was the wife of Sir Anthony Musgrave, then Governor of Jamaica from 1877-1883. She also founded The Lady Musgrave Self-Help Society in 1879 on Church Street.

It was alleged that Lady Musgrave was envious of Stiebel success and had shown a preference for her route to and from downtown Kingston to circle Devon House. However, this has never been confirmed as an issue between the two families.

The governor's wife had founded The Lady Musgrave Self-Help Society on Church Street in 1879 to assist poor and middle class Jamaican women of all colours.

Secretary general of the United Nations António Guterres (right) in conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (left), and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange at a dinner hosted in his honour at Grog Shoppe at Devon House, St Andrew, in May 2023. (Photo: JIS)

The JNHT said Stiebel's legacy lives on with the beautifully maintained Devon House, adding that Devon House has since evolved from being home of Jamaica's first black millionaire to being synonymous with fun, family entertainment, and recreation, where guests can tour, shop, dine, and relax.

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior writer

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