Daily Gleaner, March 20, 1977
As one observes the new Kingston now emerging at the Waterfront one nostalgically tries to recall what landmarks remain of old Kingston.
What have we in Kingston? There is a building known as Headquarters House which stands at the corner of Duke and Beeston Streets. From 1875 until 1962 the year of Jamaica's Independence this building housed the Legislature of the country. Within the walls of this building the foundation of modem Jamaica was laid. It witnessed the changes in the constitutional process and saw participation of the people in the election of their representatives become a reality.
These walls have echoed the eloquence of representatives of the Crown and of the people, many of whose names still hold high places in Jamaica's records, for a period of 87 years, 13 years short of a century. This building withstood the terrible Earthquake of 1907 and was spared by the numerous destructive fires which have razed the city.
This imposing structure of an old mansion built of brick and timber was erected somewhere about 1750 by Thomas Hibbert, a prominent merchant of the day, a Member of Assembly for St. George and Portland and Speaker of the Assembly in 1756. It is said to have been built as a result of a wager between Hibbert and three of his friends to see which of the four could erect the most magnificent home. This alone remains of these buildings - Jasper Hall built in Higholborn Street, Bull House in North Street, Harmony Hall m Hanover Street, have all long since been destroyd
The Home became known as "Hibbert House" and in November 1755 when the Assembly was sitting in Kingston it adjourned "to the dwelling house of Thomas Hibbert, Esq., Member of this House, where he and Colonel Lawrence, another member of this House are indisposed, there to proceed to business" and the House met there for seven! days.
It is known that in 1814 the the War Office purchased the building from the widow of Dr. Solomon DeLeon of Kingston and it became known as "General's House" or "Headquarters House" and served between 1814 and 1872 as the headquarters of the Military Command. It was purchased by the Government in 1872 for £5,000 and became the Office of the Colonial Secretary at the removal of the Capital from Spanish Town to Kingston.
In 1875 Headquarters House was made the seat of the Legislature and the Legislative Council Chamber was located on the ground floor. In 1962 the seat of Government was removed to Gordon House, across the road from the old Parliament. Since then Headquarters House has accommodated the Ministry of Local Government now removed and has remained vacant until recent occupancy of a section of JAMAL.
It now appears that this building, the main treasure of Kingston's old architecture and history is being [brought] back into the mainstream. It is hoped that the hideous air-conditioning pipes which have defaced the external features for many years will be removed in the restoration that it so richly deserves.