The Magnificent Seven Houses are mansions located next to each other on one side of Maraval Road while the other side is the Queen’s Park Savannah in northern Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. They are within easy walking distance of the zoo and botanical garden I have previously written about. The Magnificent Seven were built between 1902 and 1910 on land that was previously used as a government stock farm and are listed as heritage sites at the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. Starting at the corner of St Clair Avenue and Maraval Road the Magnificent Seven are:
Queen’s Royal College was begun 11 November 1902 by Daniel Meinerts Hahn, a former student and the chief draughtsman of the Public Works Department, who designed the German Renaissance style building, which includes a chiming clock and lighted clock tower. The school was designed with a tropical interior and has hand painted murals in the classrooms. The six classrooms and lecture hall were meant for up to 500 people. (see photo above)
Hayes Court was built as a residence for the Anglican Bishop to Trinidad. The French Colonial style house was completed in 1910 after an anonymous gift was made to pay for the construction. The design incorporates contemporary Scottish cast iron elements in decorative beams and columns for the veranda, which wrap around all but the west side of the house. On the western façade of the building are traditional Demerara windows. The mansion was designed by Taylor and Gillies and named for Bishop Thomas Hayes, the archbishop from 1889 to 1904.
Mille Fleurs was built by Dr Enrique Prada in 1904. The French Provincial house was built by George Brown of the Trinidad Trading Company. The Pradas lived in the house until 1923, when they sold it to Joseph Salvatori. It remained in the Salvatori family until the daughter, Mrs Pierre Lelong, sold it to George Malouk in 1973. He in turn sold it to the government of Trinidad and Tobago in June 1979.
Ambard’s House is named for the French architect, Lucien F Ambard, who designed and built the French Second Empire style house. Constructed in 1904 he used wood from the his family’s estate in Erin for the rafters. He also imported Scottish cast iron elements, Italian marble, and French tiles for its construction. Lucien Ambard lost the house to the Gordon Grant and Company in 1919, when he was unable to make the mortgage payments. It was inhabited by an American, William Pettigrew Humphrey, and his family from 1925 to 1940. The house was purchased from Humphrey by Timothy Roodal and it has stayed within the family with his granddaughter, Dr Yvonne Morgan and her family now living there.
Archbishop’s House is the official residence of the Archbishop of Port of Spain. It was built in 1903 by Patrick Vincent Flood, the Fifth Archbishop of Port of Spain. The building, designed by an Irish architect in an Indian Empire architectural style, had a chapel and sacristy on the first floor and a porch that wraps around the building. On the east façade, there is a porte-cochère with a wide bay and six additional, narrower bays. The west side has nine bays, and there are six bays on the south and north façades. Like many of these buildings, the construction was completed in 1904 by George Brown of the Trinidad Trading Company.
White Hall is the largest residence on the road. It was built by Joseph Leon Agostini, a cocoa planter, based upon his design plans. The house’s Moorish Mediterranean inspired architecture is due to his family coming from Corsica. Construction began in 1904, by James Moore of Barbados, and it took six years to complete. The three-story building has an exterior built using white limestone from Barbados and the interior had four reception halls, a library, drawing room, wine cellars, large galleries, and six-bedroom suites with modern bathrooms. Some believe that the Agostini family never lived in White Hall, because the cocoa industry, which was strong when construction began, collapsed while the house was being built and it was foreclosed in 1910. An American, Robert Henderson, purchased the house and his heirs, the Seigert family, possessed the house until World War II, when it was commandeered by the United States Forces as the Air Raid Precaution headquarters. After the war it was used as a public library, National Archives, Government Broadcasting Unit, the Office of the Prime Minister, and by visiting foreign dignitaries.
Stollmeyer’s Castle is a Scottish Baronial style residence and is the oldest house in the area. It is named for Charles Fourier Stollmeyer, who hired the Scottish architect Robert Gillies to design the house, which is said to be patterned after a wing of Balmoral Castle. The house was commandeered by the United States Forces, who called it “The Castle”, during World War II. After the war, it stayed within the Stollmeyer family until 1972, when it was bought by an insurance executive, Jessy Henry A Mahabir. Seven years later, the government of Trinidad and Tobago bought the house and it is use by visiting foreign dignitaries.