Saturday, 9 July 2022

President's House (Colombo)

Colombo President's House
The historic President's House (Sinhala: ජනාධිපති මන්දිරය, ක‌ොළඹ; Tamil: சனாதிபதி மாளிகை, கொழும்பு) is located next to Gordon Gardens premises at No. 10 on Janadhipathi Mawatha, in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Presently, it is the official residence and workplace of the Sri Lankan President.

History
The building was constructed by Johan van Angelbeek, the last Dutch Governor of Sri Lanka from 1794 to 1796, spending his personal wealth (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018). In 1804, the English took over the building and converted it into the official residence of their Governor (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Since then, the building was known as the "King's House" and the "Queen's House" until it became the "President's House" when Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972 (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The building
Although this was the Dutch Governors' residence the present building has no visible feature of Dutch architecture (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). It is assumed that the building was remodelled in Neo-Classical architecture during the British Period [(1815-1948) Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016]. As per historical records, the building has undergone a number of renovations in 1822,1831,1852,1855,1856,1931 and 1935 (Manathunga, 2016).  Many changes and alterations were done to the building in 1831 by Robert Brownrigg, the Governor from 1812 to 1820 (Manathunga, 2016). After the renovations in 1852 by Governor George William Anderson (1850-1855), the building was used as a rest house for the members of the British Monarch and other dignitaries (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The Gordon Garden
The residence is on a 4-acre property with a garden laid out by the British Governor Sir Arthur Gordon in honour of the Queen during the golden jubilee (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). It had originally been a  public park until 1980 when it was made a part of the President's  House (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The Royal – Thomian cricket match in 1881 was held on this premises (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

Incidents
President's House Protest
On 9 July 2022, thousands of ordinary protestors Stormed and Occupied the President's House for the first time in history demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. This was a part of the series of protests called "#GoHomeGota", that erupted throughout Sri Lanka in 2022 against the Rajapaksa administration.


References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.11-12.
2) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. pp.16-17.
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.18.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 16 July 2022

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