Guest house

The Mount Mansfield Guest House, 1826-1954


The Mount Mansfield Guest House, 1826-1954

Sunday 31 January 2021

The accommodation industry in Jamaica has a long history, growing from a few lodging houses and inns in the 1800s to a plethora of hotels, resorts, guesthouses, timeshares, rooms guest houses, condominiums, cottages and inns, among others. – Jamaica Tourist Board, 2014 [Clarke, Mayo, Cornwall – Case Study of Lodging Operations in Jamaica]

Some of you may have a vague memory that your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents spent their honeymoon at the Mount Mansfield Guest House, or had lunch or tea there afterwards. midday. It was the Terra Nova of its time. For others, do you remember that a parent might have worked there?

Many people still remember or have heard of the Blue Mountain Inn on Gordon Town Road. From 1954 to 2005 it operated as an exclusive inn and gourmet restaurant. Local and foreign dignitaries, including a member of the British royal family, dined there.

I doubt, however, that there are many people who know or remember that the building, which the Blue Mountain Inn occupied, possibly existed before 1826. Short-term visitors in a picturesque and healthy setting.

From the 17th to the 19th century, a visitor to Jamaica, if he was not staying in a house or military barracks, had to try his luck by finding suitable accommodation in the taverns, inns and shelters available. Many were often on the shabby side. In 1830, it was reported that there were approximately 1,400 shelters and hostels across Jamaica. The most famous was Ferry Inn, built in 1684.

In its day, the Mount Mansfield Guest House, according to reports, maintained a very good reputation for the quality of its facilities and services. Seven miles from Kingston, at the entrance to the coffee foothills of the Blue Mountains, it was at a higher elevation, which made it cooler. This elegant and spacious house was set in lush gardens with established trees and a river flowing through the property.

Mount Mansfield was originally part of the Maryland Coffee Estate established in 1809 by Sir Edward Hyde East. It has had several owners over the years.

The house appears in the 1826 Jamaica Almanac with Charles Grant (deceased) listed as the owner. Grant was associated with Abbey Court, Ferry Pen and other properties in Kingston and St Andrew. In 1829, the occupier was represented as Jos Antonio Abad Iznaga y Borrell, a defender of Cuban independence and refugee. It is believed that Iznaga was assassinated by Spanish agents in Jamaica in 1827. The owner, in 1830, was Levy Hyman, who owned Hyman’s Delight in St Andrew.

In 1844, Benjamin Alberga is listed as the owner. The old Alberga bridge nearby could have been named after this family. The Alberga brothers went bankrupt in 1878 and their properties in Jamaica were sold at public auction in London, England.

Susan Rebecca Burton 1835-1887

Reports from 1886 show that Susan Rebecca Burton, “a woman of color”, was the owner of the Mount Mansfield Guest House. The Burton family also ran St Thomas’s House on Hanover Street and Park Lodge on Windward Road, which was previously the stately home of Custos Dr Lewis Q Bowerbank.

General James Mann, a civil engineer, who came to Jamaica in 1867 to take up the post of director of roads, lived in Mount Mansfield from 1867 to 1886 when he returned to Great Britain. A The Gleaner The news informs that Burton of Mount Mansfield joined with other supporters in bidding farewell to his guest and his family. She is mentioned in the travel diary of Anna Brassey (Lady Brassey) In the trades, the tropics and the roaring twenties: 14,000 miles under the sunshine in 1883. His pensions were also mentioned in The English in the West Indies by James Anthony Froude, published in 1888.

Burton and its accommodation, meals and hospitality have received high praise. She and her family, as “hoteliers”, were well known and respected in Kingston and St Andrew. She died suddenly in 1887.

Promote tourism

As the Great International Exhibition was to be held in Jamaica in 1891, it was recognized that there were not enough hotel rooms to accommodate the expected visitors. This was seen as an opportunity to promote tourism. Quality guesthouses, like Mount Mansfield, could only accommodate a few people. Jamaica’s Hotel Act of 1890 was passed to make it easier to build large hotels, like Myrtle Bank and Constant Spring (now Immaculate High School). The year after the Mount Mansfield Guest House exhibit goes on sale.

The 1910 Kingston Commercial Directory has John Tapley of Nathan and Company (King and Barry Streets) as its owner. This was after the earthquake of 1907, leading up to the period of World War I (WWI) and the Spanish Flu. It was a difficult time for the shelters.

Onwards until 1927 and Nellie Jones was the owner and manager. John Osbourne Mayes appears to have been his business partner. In a competitive atmosphere, the guesthouse was continually advertised to attract customers for long and short stays, honeymoons, dinners, drinks and other social gatherings at moderate rates.

Nellie Jones also rented other properties and sold various items. It was the time of the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression. Economic challenges were severe in Jamaica, resulting in the social unrest of 1938. In the 1940s, the years of World War II, the sole proprietor was listed as John Osbourne Mayes. Interestingly, Jones and Mayes were married in 1938. The then manager Gordon Black was very popular and Mount Mansfield survived.

In 1953, Stanley Dent, hotelier, who created and managed the Sans Souci Hotel in Ocho Rios, came out of retirement and purchased Mount Mansfield. He kept Gordon Black as his manager. The guesthouse was closed for renovation and reopened in December 1954 as the Blue Mountain Inn. The name was officially changed in 1956. The Mount Mansfield Guest House therefore ceased operations after perhaps 130 years. The house entered a new era as the elegant Blue Mountain Inn and Restaurant, where Princess Margaret dined during her visit in February 1955, and many people still remember their romantic evenings there.

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