On Saturday afternoon the public is
invited to the official reopening of a
building that, from its stately perch
on the Belize City foreshore, has
witnessed many of the major events
in Belize's colourful history. News
Patrick Jones managed to beat the
crowd with an advanced tour.
Patrick Jones, Reporting
Walking through Government House is like stepping back
centuries in time. Built in 1814, the structure has
strength. And while Governors named Despard, Burns, and
Garvey have long vacated the premises, the new occupants
are giving Belizeans a previously unavailable peek into
sanctum of this once off limits institution. Director of
of Culture, Lita Krohn, says that by studying what went
we can learn much about where we may be headed.
Lita Krohn, Director, House of Culture
"Yeah, because it's our history. Whether it's good, bad,
it's your history. Some people are offended by the
that's what happened. Perhaps if we're mindful of maybe
colonialism and its evils, then we don't want any
neo-colonialism and its evils, or the domination of one
over another group. The fact that later on Marcus Garvey
visited here in the 1920s, Cassius Clay visited here. So
of us will be able to visit. Upstairs it's recital and
those places. Downstairs you pay a minimum to go and see
The displays will include an artful mix of past and
photographs and other items that are inextricably linked
nation's development from colony to nationhood.
"This is a historic exhibition. And we have how
House was built, some documents about Government House,
built in 1815. Although one of the documents says 1815
the picture says built 1814. There is a little
We have shots of refurbishments from way back then, this
not the first refurbishment. We have a shot of the whole
Belize City, cycloramic bird's eye view of Belize British
Honduras 1899. Barry Bowen's print shop was kind enough
donate that to us. And then we have shots of government
house before hurricane '31, after hurricane '31, before
Hurricane Hattie, after hurricane Hattie. We have Keith;
tree broke down the front façade."
Plate ware for big dinner parties. It has the insignia of
queen, all over it: Elizabeth Regina, E.R. Wine glasses,
glasses, port glasses, dessert, coffee, little egg
suppose ice cream, something for cake, of course the tea,
important aspect of English colonialism, all the silver
trappings of tea and diner. Very nice."
The adjacent wall will feature photographs of past
administrators and governors, along with newspaper
of historical events.
"A treaty was the treaty of Belize 1853 and other very
important meetings took place. This one was in 1884. Here
have the tour of a governor in the districts, Benque
Alan Burns on a visit to Punta Gorda. We found this in
archives, first family of the land; this is Garvey,
Garvey. He is very well known for having been the
devaluation. There he is, which 1949, which spurred the
beginning of the People's Committee and then the People's
United Party as a result."
But the history of Belize is not only the story of
"We're trying to present here visual arts of Belize from
2003. So we'll have like Teryl from early artist. This is
Carr, Nelson Young, Walter Castillo, Norris Hall. There
is a Lita
Krohn, Manuel Villamor, Michael Gordon, Percival Cain,
great Belisle, Rachel Heusner."
And these are only on the ground floor.
"Everyone is impressed with this beautiful, one gorgeous
staircase, mahogany. So all this has been refurbished."
"This is a part of the original décor of the building?"
"Yeah, yes it is. This used to be a bedroom; I am not
which one used to be master, which one was not. This is
multi-visual room, air conditioned for press briefings,
conferences. The room next door is a conference room that
will be rented."
"Do you think that giving Belizeans access to this
some of the major decisions made here, do you think that
help us appreciate more or Belizeaness?"
"Any part of history, whether it's slavery, enriches us.
we know about our country, the poorer off we are
For example, I just found out that emancipation
were held in this garden. The Mosquito Kings that were
crowned in the 1850s, 1825s, around then from St. John's
Cathedral, they held their receptions here. So there is
of things that if these walls could speak they'd be
telling us a
lot of things. And that just enriches you. It doesn't
have to be a worshiper of colonialism to like this
Patrick Jones, for News 5.
Visitors to Government House pay a five dollars fee.
Schools that make advanced bookings enter for free, and
students with I.D. pay two dollars. Krohn says the money
goes towards the upkeep of the building. The renovations
to the House of Culture were carried out at a cost of
hundred thousand dollars by the Mexican firm of Bufete
Delta under the supervision of Strukture Architects of
Belize. Saturday's public opening begins at one, with a
traditional Taiwanese puppet show at four-thirty.