Jamaica Great Houses
Great House, or
Plantation House, was the seat of authority on an estate. It was the
of planters, or attorneys who acted for the absentee owner. The size
of the house was a good judge of the success of the owner or the
These houses were usually two
buildings with a base of brick, cut stone and mortar. The top floor was
usually made of wood. Variations of this archetype included one-storey
constructed of wood, cut stone or Spanish walling or wattle and daub;
or two-storey building made of brick, wood or cut stone.
style generally reflected that of the
owners former place of residence, which in many
was England. Consequently, Georgian Period (1720-1760) inspired the
from which the Jamaican Georgian (1760-1830) evolved. Important
architectural features of the Great Houses included wide wrap-around
verandas, jalousies, and sash windows to accommodate the Caribbean
The Great House is
arguably the most prominent and
symbol of the plantation era. The Jamaica National Heritage Trust has
declared several of these houses National Monuments, as they serve to
highlight the importance of the plantation era by their contribution to
Cherry Garden Great House
Cherry Garden property was originally a sugar estate. Colonel Ezekiel
Gomersall was the first owner. After Gomersall's death the property was
passed into the hands of his second wife and nephew Ezekiel Dickinson.
For many years the Dickinson family owned the property. After
emancipation the property was administered by Joseph Gordon who came to
Jamaica from Scotland as an attorney for a number of absentee owned
sugar estates and later purchased several of them. He was the father of
George William Gordon, National Hero of Jamaica.
In 1845, George William Gordon bought the property. He
expanded the acreage by purchasing adjoining lots. Gordon lived at
Cherry Garden until he was arrested and later hanged for his alleged
role in the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865.
The house as it now stands is largely the work of Oscar Marescaux
who bought the property from Gordon's widow in the late 1860s.
Marescaux was a powerful local banker. He extended and roofed the front
and back patios and improved the interior with mahogany facings.
The main building, which is the Great House, is an
Jamaican Georgian structure, two storeys in height. Its architectural
features would suggest that the date of the construction is during the
The main entrance boasts a double bifurcated stair that
to an entrance portico, which is above an open cellar. This portico is
supported by four 4" (100mm) cast iron columns with ornate capitals,
while the floor is that of marble titles. This marble finish also
extends to the entrance steps. The design concept made provisions for
ventilation and illumination, in that the main walls boast a series of
jalousie windows, which are punctuated by intermediary casements. These
jalousie windows extended from the chair rail level up to the underside
of the wooden beams or joist supporting the floor level above.
Parish: St James
surrounding Rose Hall and its infamous owner, Annie Palmer, also known
as "The White Witch of Rose Hall," is one that has fascinated
generations of island natives and visitors alike. It is a story with
all the elements of an engaging novel: a beautiful heroine, unrequited
love, black magic and revenge - all set in a gracious old plantation
tucked amid the green hills of Jamaica.
One of the most impressive buildings on the property, the Great House,
was built in 1770 by John Palmer and his wife, Rosa. After the couple
passed away in 1790, the property went through many hands until finally
ending up the residence of John Palmer's grand nephew, John Rose
Palmer. In 1820, John Rose Palmer married, Annie, a beautiful but
feisty English girl. Little did he know that his young wife possessed
"black magic" powers that would eventually lead to his demise. During
her reign as mistress of the plantation, Annie did away with two more
husbands and countless lovers.
Of course, the meting out of such undeserved cruelty had its price: in
1831, Annie was found dead in her bedroom at The Great House. To this
day there are those who claim to see her ghost wandering the halls of
the Great House.
|Invercauld Great House
In 1889, when Black River's port was one of the most important in
Jamaica, a Scottish merchant imported most of the materials for the
construction of this white-sided manor house.
Located on High Street, Invercauld is a fine example of late Jamaica
Georgian Architecture. It is a reminder of Black River’s prosperity a
century ago, when logwood and shipping brought wealth to the town.
Built over 115 years ago, it has been restored and is presently used as
a focal point to a hotel.