blank [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

Lost and almost-lost Buildings

‘In need of some work…’

blank [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

Old houses mended, cost little less than new, before they’re ended.
Colley Cibber

Conservation and heritage are relatively new concepts on St Helena…

This page is in indexes: Island Structures, Island History, Island Detail

Lost and almost-lost Buildings [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

Go to: Porteous HouseTeutonic HallLongwood New HouseThe Heritage SocietyRead More

Conservation and heritage are relatively new concepts on St Helena, as can be seen by the fate of the balcony on Jackson’s Chemists. Many fine buildings were lost to the ‘White Ants’(Termites). Other buildings have been allowed to deteriorate, or have been unsympathetically replaced. Here are some examples.

Note that this page features buildings that have been, or seemingly will be lost forever. Buildings which were thought lost but have been, or are being restored, can be found on our Saved Buildings page.

Porteous House

Location map:
Location Map: Lost and almost-lost Buildings (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

Porteous House was a fine Georgian mansion in Jamestown, just up the street from Castle Gardens. Napoleon Bonaparte stayed there for his first night on St Helena, as did the Duke of Wellington some years later (in the same room, by all accounts!).

For much of its life, Porteous House served as a boarding house. Built towards the end of the 18th Century, it was the home of the East India Company’s Head Surgeon, John Charles Dunn, until 1811, when it was bought by William Balcombe, and quickly sold again to Henry Porteous, the Company’s Botanic Gardener. On his death in 1819 it remained in the Porteous Estate under its Trustee, Thomas Baker, who let it to Andrew Eyre as a boarding house until it fell, almost inevitably, into the hands of Saul Solomon as his ‘hotel’. After his death shares were offered in it, but not successfully it seems as the Colonial Treasurer, John Gabriel Doveton, bought it and sold it on to Robert Pooley, the commercial agent who later became US vice-consul (1872-76). By 1863 he had sold it to George Moss, the French vice-consul, partner in the firm Solomon, Gideon and Moss. In his history Gosse gives a photograph of George and Isaac Moss taken on 10th February 1863, sitting in the garden behind the house with Baron de Rougemont. The front of the house is shown in views of St Helena published that year by JE Fowler, taken from a photograph by Barrackmaster John Isaac Lilley - the 1st image below. Two years later, on Sunday 2nd April 1865 “the finest house in Main Street” was reduced to a fire ravaged shell by an unknown arsonist.

It remained a burnt-out shell - 2nd photo below - until demolished in 1937. In the Crallan report of 1974 it is listed as a vacant plot - 3rd photo below.

In 2001 local businessman Rodney Buckley got planning permission to re-develop the site. It was intended that the new building would “incorporate as much of the detail of the original including the coping and corner edgings{4}, including mostly Georgian-style windows but with large ‘Picture Windows’ at the front. You can judge for yourself how much the new building looks like the old - 5th photo.

Old Porteous House, 1860s (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Old Porteous House, 1860s

Old Porteous House, 1900 {1} (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Old Porteous House, 1900{1}

Old Porteous House, 1914 [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Old Porteous House, 1914

Vacant plot, 1980s (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Vacant plot, 1980s

Under construction, 2001 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Under construction, 2001

Current building (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Current building

On 31st March 2005 the new building was sold to SHELCO{5}.

Why is this building here, and not on the Saved Buildings page? Because, in our opinion, New Porteous House is not a restoration of Mr. Porteous’ original house. It is a modern building built with modern materials which happens to occupy the same space, and share the same name as the original, but has nothing of the elegance of the building it replaced.

Teutonic Hall

Location map:
Location Map: Lost and almost-lost Buildings (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

Previously known as Mason’s Stock House, Teutonic Hall was the property of wealthy landowner Miss Polly Mason. The Mason family were probably the largest landowners on the East of the Island. Teutonic Hall was usually referred to during the time as Miss Mason’s. This may be the house Chaplin claims that Governor Hudson Lowe considered renting for Napoleon at £100 a month. It was later sold to Georg Wilhem Janisch, originally of Hamburg, who renamed it Teutonic Hall{6}

In the 20th Century it seems to have been rented. In 1937 it is shown as being occupied by one Victor M Day, a stamp collector. In 1951 the occupier is listed as a Brigadier Wallace. In 1965/6 it was occupied by two Belgian naturalists, here undertaking a survey of the island’s endemic invertebrates.

Teutonic Hall is a listed building, but is now little more than a shell. The Government of St Helena has no powers to force its owner to maintain or restore it, and does not have the powers of Compulsory Purchase in the national interest.

c.1970 [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
c.1970

Distant view, c.1970 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Distant view, c.1970

c.1972 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
c.1972

2005 [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
2005

2010 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
2010

2012 [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
2012

Interior, 2013 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Interior, 2013

In 2015, in response to a 2013 Blog posting by John Tyrrell (originally about Wranghams) the following comment was received from someone claiming to be the owner{7}:

Have just come across this blog on period houses on St Helena.

I am the owner of Teutonic but now reside in the UK.

Unfortunately time and weather have not been good to it and is well beyond repair.

However in earlier days there were grants from the St Helena Heritage Society{8} on the island in which I applied for, being turned down because I was at the time working on Ascension Island and so no entitled to any grant as earning a fair wage on Ascension Island.

Other houses grade listed at the time and after all had the grant to help with the work needed even someone who at the time was not an islander managed to get the grant. And guess what the person who is I believe still a member of the St Helena Heritage Society{8} wants to purchase the property…

So now you know why Teutonic is in such disrepair! We have plans but not for the old house it is to far gone.

More about Teutonic Hall on John Tyrrell’s Blog.

Longwood New House

Location map:
Location Map: Lost and almost-lost Buildings (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

When Napoleon Bonaparte was moved to Longwood House in December 1815 he instantly disliked the building. It was, let’s be fair, rather less grand than the palaces with which he was familiar.

A new house was planned to be built for him, the necessary materials arriving on 17th May 1816, but due to many delays building of the new house only began in October 1818. It was completed before Napoleon’s death but he never occupied it. Built of yellow sandstone, it was located some hundred metres to the northwest from the old house. Interestingly, the Records{9} for 9th September 1821 report that a large part of the Great Wood Wall at Longwood had been scavenged to build the New House. Repairs to the wall were ordered!

For some years one of its rooms was used as a Church and quarters were provided for the Chaplain. It was also used as a place of recuperation for invalids from India. But a proposal to use it as a ‘Young Ladies Boarding Seminary’ came to nothing.

Governor Dallas moved to Longwood New House in 1832 because of the smell from the drains under Plantation House (his family contracted what was probably typhoid), and remained there for the rest of his term. The incoming Crown Governor, Maj-Gen George Middlemore appears to have re-occupied Plantation House so presumably by then the drains had been fixed.

In 1858 the Napoleonic properties, Longwood House and Napoleon’s Tomb were sold to the French Government, though Longwood New House as not included in the sale and remained Crown property. Major Nicolas Martial Gauthier de Rougemont, the first Curator of the Properties with the title of Commander of the Imperial Residences of St Helena, rented Longwood New House from the Crown and spent a lot of (French) money in the late 1850s trying to turn Longwood New House into a suitably palatial home for himself on the island, devoting to it 90% of the appropriations allocated to the maintenance of the whole of the properties. However in 1861 he informed Paris that cracks had already appeared in the walls “built without foundation”. On 23rd January 1867 the commander gave the keys of Longwood New House to the vice-consul of France, George Moss and, after a stay of almost nine years, departed for France.

Nobody else seems to have occupied Longwood New House, despite its wonderful view over Deadwood Plain. In 1934 it was declared “too large to maintain” and it was demolished in 1949, being replaced by a Dairy{10}.

W R Smith, 1823 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
W R Smith, 1823

1857 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
1857{a}

Fowler, 1863 [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Fowler, 1863

1860s (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
1860s{b}

1920s {2} (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
1920s{2}

Rear view, 1920s (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Rear view, 1920s

Here are some 1914 photos from the National Archives{c}:

From the west [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
From the west

North Side [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
North Side

From the South East [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
From the South East

From the Old House [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
From the Old House

Room on North Side [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Room on North Side

East Wing Room (1) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
East Wing Room (1)

East Wing Room (2) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
East Wing Room (2)

Bathroom {3} (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]
Bathroom{3}

The Heritage Society

Heritage Society Logo [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

These days the St Helena Heritage Society{8} lobbies for the preservation and protection of St Helena’s history, though with limited financial resources it can only do so much.

Read More

For more about our historic buildings consult The Historic Environment Record.

HER image [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

closinghumourimage [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]

Laugh at funny lostbuildings humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:Lost and almost-lost Buildings]


Credits:

{a} John Melliss from ‘Views of St Helena, By John Melliss, published in 1857

{b} John Isaac Lilley, our first photographer?, 1861-1866.

{c} National Archives on Flickr™{11}{12}



Footnotes:

{1} Easily dated because the soldiers are escorting the incoming Boer Prisoners.

{2} Roof only visible, centre front. Old house on hilltop, right.

{3} The crack in the bathroom wall can be clearly seen.

{4} St Helena Herald, 27th July 2001.

{5} St Helena Leisure COrporation.

{6} His son, Hudson Ralph Janisch, became Governor of St Helena in 1874, in which office he remained until his death in March 1884 at the age of 59. He remains the only person born on the island to have served as Governor.

{7} Naturally we cannot verify this.

{8} Founded November 1979 and operators of the Museum of St Helena.

{9} The St Helena Records is a collection of documents dating back to the earliest days of St Helena, held in the Government of St Helena Archives. The Archives can be accessed in person or via email - see our Family And Friends page for more. You can search the Records on our Chronology page.

{10} Which itself closed in the 1990s and is currently being re-purposed as a business park.

{11} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged

{12} Images are labelled ‘No known copyright restrictions’.



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