Welcome to Georgetown and Guyana, on behalf of myself I do wish you an enjoyable stay. I am Teri and I will be your guide for this City Tour. This tour will take you to some of the more well-known and architecturally significant buildings in Georgetown.
GENERAL HISTORY INTRODUCTION
The Guyanese are pluralistic, ethnically, racially and religiously diverse peoples. There are six major groups of people – indigenous Amerindians (who came to Guyana by way of Mongolia, centuries before Westerners reached these shores), Africans, East Indians, Chinese, Portuguese and Europeans. The Europeans are essentially Spanish, Dutch, French and English. Most of the Africans, East Indians and Chinese were either enslaved or indentured servants who worked on Sugar plantations.
The major religions are Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. The Amerindians generally maintain their traditional beliefs based on tribal practices. Guyana has a population of approx. 750,000.00 with a zero population growth, due mainly to migration. There are however approx. half a million Guyanese living as expatriates mainly in the United States and Canada. Although English is the official language, an English based Creole is widely used.
Originally, it was one of the larger plantation owner’s residences. Taken up the Government in the 1950’s, it became Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s residence from 1953-1957. He was Premier of British Guyana in 1961 to 1964. Dr. Cheddi Jagan was also opposition leader for 28 years and final became the president of Guyana in1992-1997. It has been totally refurbished and is now the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre.
Formerly Kingston, now Austin House, Residence of the Bishop of Guyana. This fine timber building dates back to the late 1842. Named after Guyana’s first Anglican Bishop, it is said that Bishop Austin’s nine children amused themselves by throwing object at passers -by; Rather than correct them, the tolerant Bishop moved the house further back from the street.
Many buildings in Georgetown have what is called Demerara Shutters similar to what you see on the windows’ of the Bishop’s House.
The flat section at the bottom of the shutter would have a block of ice placed on it, the breeze would then blow though the shutters and over the block of ice, thus providing a primitive means of air conditioning for the building.
Built for Mr. Sandbach and later acquired by the Booker conglomerate which dominated the sugar industry. This was for a long time owned by Bookers Bros.; Plantation owners in British Guiana. The British Government as the residence of the British High Commissioner purchased it in the 1960’s to Guyana. In 1987 it was acquired by Guyana Government to be the residence of the Prime Minister. In its early day the tower was used to give notice of ships approaching the Georgetown Harbour. Legend has it that the Directors of Booker would watch the ships come in from his window, and that Captains, aware of this, would ensure that the port side of their ships were always well painted.
This is the Official residence for the President of Guyana. The State House dates back to 1858 it was the residence of our Governor; Governors’ General and until 1980, of our first President, Arthur Chung. State House was formerly known as Government House dates back to 1858. It was the residence of the Governor General and in 1970, the country’s first president Mr. Arthur Chung resided there. This building is a collection of additions but there are a few distinctive characteristics such as the Georgian six paned windows and the ‘Demerara windows.’
Next to the State House, this is a center for research into Guyana’s Amerindian communities. Named after a Dr. Walter Roth a British doctor and geologist who was posted to Guyana in 1909 and developed by its first curator Dr. Denis Williams. It displays Relics and artifacts of Guyana’s nine indigenous people.
The Cenotaph, dedicated to Guyana’s soldiers who died in service during the wars of 1914 – 1918, 1939 – 1945. The Government built the marble monument, about 4.5m tall through public subscriptions.
On the day of the 9th anniversary of the declaration of war with Germany Saturday, 14 August 1923, Governor Graeme Thompson unveiled it. Mr. E. G. Wool ford, Chairman of the War Memorial Committee, handed it over to the acting Mayor Joseph Gonsalves, as its future custodians on behalf of the city of Georgetown.
The National Library, previously the Public Free Library was built in 1909. Andrew Carnegie; a Scottish born American industrialist and philanthropist provided financing for the construction and furnishing of the building. The building once housed the Economic Science, Anthropological and Historical sections of the Museum. It began with 5700 books, and 1500 members and one librarian. In 1951, the Museum was relocated to its present site and the Library took over the entire building.
It is said to the world’s tallest freestanding wooden building at a height of 143 feet. The current structure is the third Church and second Cathedral of St. George’s erected near this site. The first Church was razed to the ground, the second collapsed due to weak foundations and this; the third one was built in 1892.
This is the main Anglican Church in Guyana, and is constructed from design by Sir Arthur Bloomfield, with the very strong Guyanese Greenheart wood and beautiful English Oak. Over the top of the Alter you will notice a Candelabra donated by Queen Victoria, which was later electrified. Also to note are the intricate stained glass windows and the many scrolls on the walls depicting a great part of Georgetown’s early history.
The monument commemorates the 1972 Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned countries when it was held in Guyana, 8 – 11 August, 1972.
The monument was unveiled by His Excellency, Mr. Arthur Chung, the first President of Guyana in honour of the founders of the Non – Aligned Movement: President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of India and President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia; the leaders who initiated the conference of Afro- Asian countries. The four busts on the concrete plinth represent the four founders of the movement Nasser, Nkrumah, Nehru and Tito.
There are made of bronze and the other of a plastic material. Just in front of the monument is a pool from which rise four jasper rocks. These were taken from the Ireng River in the interior of our country. This area of the city is called the Company Path Gardens.
Another building designed by Cesar Castellani and built in 1887 of Tudor architectural influence. The open verandahs flank its eleven courtrooms on both sides and the registries of the Supreme Court occupy the ground floor. The statue of Queen Victoria was vandalized during the 50’s and 60’s (note the missing hand and nose) and was banished to the rear of the Botanical Gardens after Independence was granted from England.
The statue was re-instated its original position at the High Court upon the visit of the Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Elizabeth 2nd in 1994.
One of the oldest Churches in Georgetown, St. Andrew’s Kirk was designed by Joseph Hadfield. Work on the structure’s foundation began in 1811. Due to financial difficulties it was acquired by Scottish Presbyterians and was completed and formally opened for service on 28 February 1818.
At this location, the first Brandwagt or signal station in Georgetown was located. Georgetown was originally known by the French as La Nouville Ville and by the Dutch as Stabroek.
The two guns in the grounds are from the Crimean War. It was in these grounds in 1966 that the Duke of Kent on behalf of Queen Elizabeth 2nd handed over Guyana to govern itself.
Half of Stabroek Market is built on land, which has been re-claimed from the river. There has been a public market in this area since 1792, but the present building dates from 1842, it was expanded in 1881.
The Stabroek Market was built of cast iron and shipped over from Holland where it was made. The structure was originally intended for Georgetown’s train station. During Colonial times, the ‘powers that
be’ and elite forbid their children from visiting the market for fear of them being indoctrinated with ideas from the lower classes.
Nowadays Stabroek is a hub of activity where almost anything can be bought. I do hope you enjoyed this short tour with me. There are lots more interesting places to visit. Should you require a longer more detailed tour of our beautiful city, please do not hesitate to contact a local tour operator.
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