Tuesday, August 25

Caribbean Houses

Over the weekend I poured over the stunningly beautiful book Caribbean Houses published by Rizzoli. Author Michael Connors, a West Indian decorative arts scholar, provides a fascinating account of historically significant houses in the West Indies.

The book is divided into five chapters, one for each European heritage: the Spanish Antilles, the Dutch Leewards, the English Islands, the French Lesser Antilles, and the Danish Virgin Islands. And, with the disappearance of much Caribbean historic domestic architecture, it is wonderful to see the rich history documented in such a gorgeous book.

The colonial residences presented in Caribbean Houses represent an important historical record of the Caribbean’s material culture. I especially enjoyed learning more about blending of European styles with the vernacular island forms and decorative motifs.

A rare look into the interiors of these historic houses, complete with exotic tropical hardwoods, indigenous stone, local crafts and contemporary furnishings, Caribbean Houses is one for the bookshelf.

A detail of the Whim Plantation, showing the well-laid stonework and neoclassical column and inlaid pediment "eyebrow' above the window. Whim Plantation was founded on St. Croix in the 1740's, only a few years after the Danish purchased the island from the French and colonization commenced.

The seventeenth-century cookhouse and kitchen wing of St. Nicholas Abbey. The massive chimney, with its Dutch-influence design, is the largest on Barbados. St. Nicholas Abbey resembles mansions built in England during the same period. St. Nicholas Abbey is one of the only three surviving Jacobean-style houses that exist in the Americas.

Rose Hall, an eighteenth-century Jamaican house, is one of the grandest English island great houses. The carved mahogany woodwork displays th highest quality of craftsmanship. Rose Hall is now maintained by the Georgian Society of Jamaica.

Cinnamon Hill, another great house located behind and to the south of Rose Hill,was purchased and owned for years by Johnny Cash. It is currently being restored to its original condition and will be featured in the Georgian Society's Heritage Tour.

The grounds of Whim Plantation and the three steps of processing sugar during the colonial era: a livestock mill, a windmill and a steam engine smokestack.

The Alcázar de Colón, sometimes called the Columbus Palace, was built to house Diego Columbus, son the explorer, and his aristocratic wife, Maria de Toledo. A portriat of Christopher Columbus and his son Diego Colón hangs in the Alcázar library.

The Penha townhouse in Willemstad, buit in 1708, is the finest example of Curaçao's baroque style. The four story masterpiece of Dutch-colonial West Indian design has cartouchelike scroll gables and plaster leaf and flower ornamental motifs.

Photo credit © Caribbean Houses by Michael Connors, Rizzoli, 2009.


Belle on Heels said...

oh, thank you for posting this! i studied caribbean architecture briefly in college and even wrote a paper on cinnamon hill. i will have to run out and get this book asap!!

ALL THE BEST said...

Fantastic! You will love the book!!

Kalee said...

Wow, what stunning examples of Caribbean architecture! I especially love the Penha townhouse. Great post!

Rita said...

LOVE. wow. the yellow house! how cool, and i love that cook house from the abbey, looks very scottish, just beautiful, xx

Karena said...

Just gorgeous. I love the architecture and the style of furnishings! Ronda thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...


Great resource for my interior design library. I just love all the history great stuff!

Thanks for posting about the book. Something to put on my x-mas wish list.


mary said...

I love colonial arts and architecture--so much creative energy and innovation when compared to the more staid European origins. The colors and minimalism are wonderful. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Wow these are stunning. I can't imagine being in such a beautiful landscape AND living in such beautiful history. What a decadent luxury that would be! Truly magnificent!

Yansy said...

I love Caribbean architecture! Thanks for introducing us to this fantastic book.

Suzanne said...

& love the pictures
recently I sayed in this XVII century house turned into a hotel: checkiit out:

Renée Finberg said...

it's funny, once you have been to those places you can recognize the architecture, and the know the island.
i knew instantly which pic belonged to which island.
AAHHHHH.........wish i were in jamaica now.


Hello, really wanted to leave a comment for you because your blog is so beautiful. Time flies when you're having fun and I've really enjoyed reading your interesting posts. Your pictures are brilliant too. Thank you for sharing them and have a great weekend - best wishes....

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Elise!! That is very kind of you to say.
All the best,

Southern Aspirations said...

LOVELY! I saw this book at a little shop in Florida but didn't buy it. I must now that I've seen some images inside. Gorgeous and wonderful eye candy.

Patrice said...

What a beautiful list as an example of Caribbean architecture.I like the last photo- the Penha townhouse in Willemstad.

Great post by the way. Keep posting.

Fabulous Finds Gal said...

What inspiration! Gorgeous.

Fabulous Finds Gal