Discover Cacique | Government House
In 1973, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and a brand-new black, gold and aquamarine flag was raised in its place. Forty-four years of independence from the crown but The Bahamas continues to hold dear many of its colonial relics.
In the last #DiscoverCacique post, we took a look at the Elbow Reef Lighthouse - the only surviving hand-wound kerosene lighthouse left in the world. In this episode, we are closer to home in downtown historical Nassau, taking a peek at Government House, residence of the Bahamian Governor-General, and once upon a time the seat and symbol of colonial governance.
The ten-acre site for Government House was purchased from Richard Fitzwilliam by The Crown in 1800 for the princely sum of £4,000 pounds, now roughly equivalent to $130,000 Bahamian dollars.
Completed in 1803, the design of this splendid Georgian mansion, which sits like a festive pink wedding cake atop Mount Fitzwilliam, was inspired by American colonial architecture of the Southern United States and Carolinas. Every detail - from the stone foundation to the columns that guard the main entrance speaks to its neoclassical inspiration and abundant southern charm.
HOME TO HISTORY
Government House has been home to many British Governors and Bahamian Governor-Generals. The 1803 structure was badly damaged by a hurricane in 1929, leading to extensive repairs and remodeling (1932), and lavish redecoration during the notorious Duke of Windsor’s time as governor (1940–45) (Source: Lonely Planet). The latest Governor-General who calls Government House her home is Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, wife of the late Sir Lynden O. Pindling, the first black Prime Minister of The Bahamas.
It's important to note that, although Her Majesty The Queen is Head of the Commonwealth, she does not actively participate in the governance of the Commonwealth countries. After Independence, British Governors no longer presided over the lands, so the position of Governor General was created in its stead. Governor Generals act as an extension of The Queen and preside over ceremonial, social and legislative responsibilities. Entertaining foreign delegations and honorary visitors in the well-appointed Government House and lush grounds is all in a day's work, as is appointing the Bahamian Prime Minister.
Sitting 'pretty in pink' atop Mount Fitzwilliam, Government House is the centerpiece of Downtown Nassau's architectural charm. Bold, white columns guard the entrance and support a pink neoclassical pediment, while the iconic white staircase cascades towards George Street, abutting at the swaggering statue of Cristopher Columbus (erected 1830). The sweeping verandas and porches are the perfect place for dignitaries to hobnob in the warm tropical breeze and lord over picturesque views of the harbour.
A ROOM FIT FOR A QUEEN
Inside Government House, the Grand Ballroom takes center stage with ornate drapery, light fixtures and the crest of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth topping a stage which has played host to history. For us at Cacique, the Grand Ballroom is the perfect canvas for designing one-of-a-kind experiences and it has been our honour and privilege to design several such events in our 20 years as The Bahamas leading destination management company.
At Cacique, we love to tell stories about the characters and places that coloured the rich tapestry of our Bahamian history. For more information on Historic Experiences with Cacique, to arrange a visit of Government House, or chat about Government House as a venue for your event, feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to the next story! ;)SS