The Great House Antigua in St Johns, Antigua, is delighted to announce its induction into Historic Hotels Worldwide, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (United States of America) for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels around the globe. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATS APP GROUP
Historic Hotels Worldwide promotes heritage and cultural travel by featuring a prestigious collection of historic treasures including historic hotels and other historic lodging spanning more than 10 centuries across the globe Pocket doors
“We are delighted to induct The Great House Antigua, a hotel built in 1670 to Historic Hotels Worldwide.” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “We extend our congratulations to The Great House Antigua, the Howell family, and leadership team for their careful stewardship and work to increase the worldwide recognition of this important heritage and cultural landmark.”
Historic Hotels Worldwide membership is exclusive to hotels, resorts, and inns with lodgings at historic sites that are at least 75 years old and offer historic accommodations.
Though it is a diverse collection, each member is required to possess one or more of the following qualities: it served as the former home, or it is located on the grounds of the former home, of famous persons, or it is a significant location for an event in history; it is located in or within walking distance to a historic district, historically significant landmark, place of a historic event, or historic city center; it has been recognized by a local preservation organization or national trust; and it displays historic memorabilia, artwork, photography, or other examples of its historic significance.
Per Gabriella Howell, Director of The Great House Antigua: “Our family-run historic boutique hotel, The Great House Antigua, is situated on a 350-year-old estate.
The longevity of the team speaks for itself, with many having been with us for decades, working to turn my grandmother’s home into a boutique hideaway for those wishing to explore more of the exquisite island of Antigua.
Joining Historic Hotels Worldwide provides us with the perfect opportunity to bring the story of The Great House Antigua to historians.
I love the cool trade winds and bird song in the early mornings, the organic meals made with love, the endless warmth and sunshine, the marvelous sunsets from the terrace, the sound of the tree frogs and the crickets in the evenings and being a part of a greater story.
I want guests to come here, switch off from their busy lives and relax. I want guests to be eager to return the moment we say goodbye.
We look forward to working with Historic Hotels Worldwide and their audience, enabling them to dip their toes into the people, buildings, artifacts, and furnishings from the past 350 years and experience the wonders of The Great House Antigua.”
The Great House Antigua is rich in history and architectural integrity. Built in 1670 using Cotswold’s stone—which was used as ballast on the transatlantic trade routes from Great Britain—the main house was originally owned by Philip Watkins, Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands.
The estate and house moved among various private owners, who first grew cotton, then sugar, at the site. The “Sailor Prince,” King William IV, visited the island extensively with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, creating parties and scandal wherever they went. Letters from the late 1700s recount the galas held in their honor.
The buff house at The Great House Antigua was altered in memory of the Sailor Prince’s arrival on the island, which was specifically redesigned to resemble the shape of a boat mast.
When royal officials granted emancipation to the enslaved people throughout Antigua in 1834, the house and grounds continued to grow sugar, although in far smaller quantities.
It was not until 1951 that the estate began to be restored following the economic downturn earlier in the century.
The person responsible for initiating its revival was a wealthy and charismatic American named Jack Peacock-Green, who had obtained the future hotel amid his greater acquisition of 26 acres that belonged to the plantation. Peacock-Green installed a secret cocktail bar in the drawing room, which hosted parties that entertained the likes of Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart. But Peacock-Green initiated an even greater restoration of the grounds. Charles McManas then acquired the site in 1968.
An American Israeli with impeccable design and taste, he owned the site next and began the restoration of the house itself.
In 1980, Captain John L. Henderson and Lady Henderson purchased the location, who restored the house and grounds to their full glory.
During Lady Henderson’s gardening, she found the handgun that had been used by the son of one of the previous owners during his service in the First World War.
Within the gardens and grounds, many artifacts dating back to the 17th century—including household china, pipes and buttons—were found. While some of the historical artifacts are still held at The Great House Antigua today, others have been donated to the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda.
Lady Henderson and her daughter, Janey, were keen collectors of historical items. When bulldozers were sent in to knock down a neighboring estate building, they raced off driving an old tractor to stop the demolition and rescue what they could, including gravestones from the early 1800s.
Parties continued throughout the Henderson’s ownership, too, with many guests from sports, politics, and film in attendance. Among the most noteworthy included Sir
Viv Richards and Richard Burton.
Following Lady Henderson’s death, the destination was converted into a boutique hotel by her granddaughter, Gabriella Howell continuing the tradition of hospitality that had long existed at the house. Starting with just four suites in the historic main house, the building increased its capacity by 100% in early 2020.
Janey carried out her masters in Georgian restoration design, which was used throughout the entire reconstructive process.
A new kitchen was developed, though the original coal fire pit still stands in perfect condition. Gabriella is currently studying her Ph.D., written on the lives of those associated with The Great House Antigua in the 1700s and 1800s.
Her research has relied heavily upon authentic historic documents from archives in the United Kingdom, United States, and Antigua & Barbuda.
The dissertation will ultimately grant those staying at The Great House Antigua the complete coverage of its 350-year story.
About Historic Hotels Worldwide®
Historic Hotels Worldwide is a prestigious and distinctive collection of historic treasures, including luxury historic hotels built in former castles, chateaus, palaces, academies, haciendas, villas, monasteries, and other historic lodging spanning ten centuries. Historic Hotels Worldwide represents the finest and most distinctive global collection of more than 320 historic hotels in more than 46 countries. Hotels inducted into Historic Hotels Worldwide are authentic historic treasures, demonstrate historic preservation, and celebrate historic significance. Eligibility for induction into Historic Hotels Worldwide is limited to those distinctive historic hotels that adhere to the following criteria: minimum age for the building is 75 years or older; historically relevant as a significant location with a historic district, historically significant landmark, place of a historic event, former home of a famous person, or historic city center; hotel celebrates its history by showcasing memorabilia, artwork, photography, and other examples of its historic significance; recognized by national preservation or heritage buildings organization or located within UNESCO World Heritage Site; and presently used as historic hotel. For more information, please visit HistoricHotelsWorldwide.com.
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