State House of Kenya: Little Known Facts About The House on a Hill
Despite being the official residence of the head of state; after independence, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta did not reside at the statehouse but instead preferred to stay in his...
The Statehouse of Kenya which was built in 1907 for the then-governor Sir Edward Gregg, during the colonial period has a rich history that is not known by many. It has since become a residence to the heads of state after independence.
The house which is more than a century old was built on a hill because the white settlers loved trees and wide boulevards and also feared floods, therefore Sir Herbert Baker, who was contracted to design the building chose the hilly area around Arboretum that offered stunning views.
It was known as the government house during the colonial era as it served as the official residential home for governors of Kenya. However, after independence the former head of state, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta did not reside at the statehouse but instead preferred to stay in his Gatundu and Nairobi home, he only used the statehouse to transact official business during the day.
This is because he feared that the building had ghosts of white settlers which he feared would harm him if he slept there and the croaking sound of frogs around the state house made sleeping there uncomfortable for him.
Well, contrary to the popular myth and rumors that the current head of state, President Uhuru Kenyatta was born in the statehouse, the myth is not true as Kenyatta was born on October 26th, 1961 and by then, the British governor was still occupying the building.
Statehouse was designed by British architect called Herbert Baker, who was the fourth child of a British farmer, Thomas Henry Baker.
He borrowed ideas from other cities like Washington DC, Paris, Cape Town, and New Delhi to design Nairobi. His other iconic designs include Kenya Railways, the High Court building (now Supreme Court). He also takes credit for designing structures in South Africa such as Union Building in Pretoria, St.Andrews College, St. John’s College, and Grahamstown.
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