Doors of an august abode open – from Queen’s house to President’s House

Doors of an august abode open – from Queen’s house to President’s House

Doors of an august abode open – from Queen’s house to President’s House

Written by Lahiru Fernando

10 Jun, 2016 | 10:18 pm

Many buildings from different eras still exist in Sri Lanka. Among them is the majestic President’s House in Colombo, which is the official residence of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. And now, the doors of the historic President’s House

The First Map of Colombo

The First Map of Colombo

located at Janadhipathi Mawatha, Fort, Colombo, has been opened for public viewing.

The President’s House plays an important role in the history of the country, being used as a Shrine during the Portuguese rule and then as a church during the Dutch era. The building is also included in the first map of Colombo which was drawn in the 18th century.

When Dutch Governor Johan Gerard van Angelbeek constructed a new building at this premises, it was named the Governor’s House. After that the British conquered the country and ruled the island for the next two centuries, during which, the building was transformed to become the official residence of the British Governor to Sri Lanka and was known as the “Queen’s House” until 1972.

President's House - Stairs

The Stairs

Since its construction, the building has housed 32 governors and seven presidents, all of whom added their own touches to the abode.

When using the staircase, it is a custom for the president and visiting foreign heads of states to use the right side of the staircase while the others use the left.

The first Sri Lankan ruler to reside at the house was Sir William Gopallawa. He took residence after he was sworn in as the first President of Sri Lanka. Thereafter, the name was changed from the “Queen’s House” to “President’s House”.

President's House - Fan

Carvings on the beams used to affix the electrical fans (British Era)

Also steeped in rich history is the Banyan Tree which grows in the house’s garden. It was planted by then-Governor Sir Joseph West Ridgeway to honour the 25th anniversary of the ascension of Queen Victoria to the throne.

A number of priceless works of art can be seen at the President’s House, including the carvings on the beams, used to affix the electrical fans during the British era, which showcases a local touch of culture.

President's House - equipmentAmong more belonging to the British era are the equipment and utensils used during functions.

The President’s House will be open to the public until Tuesday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

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