President’s House in Colombo open for public from tomorrow

president_home_kandyPresident Maithripala Sirisena has decided to open the President’s House in Colombo and the Gordon park for the public including the school children.

Accordingly, the general public and the school children will get an opportunity to see the President’s House from tomorrow to June 14. The inauguration ceremony in this regard will be held under the patronage of the President at 2.00 pm tomorrow .

The President’s House in Colombo, which was used by 29 governors and six Presidents for their official duties and for residential purposes will be open to the public for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka.

Under the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling period the President’s House and its surrounding area had been designated as a high-security area.

With the current President came into power the roads in the adjacent area of the President’s House in Colombo opened for the public use.

President Maithripala Sirisena does not use the President’s House as his official residence and it is used only for special occasions including welcoming the state guests.

Hence, opening the door for a new political culture, the President has taken steps to open the doors of the President’s House for the public which had been closed to the date.

The public and the school children can obtain more information by contacting Mr. Chathuranga, Presidential Assistant Secretary, Investigations through the phone number: 077- 3086366.

This palace was built in the period of Dutch Governance. There was a white color building with a balcony faced to the sea, with a flag post in the front in the first map of Colombo drafted in the 18th century. That building currently is the President’s House.

The current President’s House is situated in the land belonged to the St Francis Church. There was a cemetery as well near this church. King Don Juan Dharmapala who was detained in Colombo was buried in this cemetery. The Portuguese Church was transferred into a Dutch Church during the Dutch period. In 1757 this building was destroyed and a new church named Wolfendhal Church was built. Sir Arthur Gordon built a park there and today it is known as the ‘Gordon Park’.

Jerald Van Angalbeek, who was the Dutch Governor in Sri Lanka during 1794-1796 later took the ownership of this land. The new building he constructed on this land named ‘Governor’s Palace’. Some reports say that Angalbeek lived there till his death while some other reports say he went back to his country. However, he had given the ownership of this palace to his granddaughter.

The granddaughter of Angalbeek was married to a British Civil Servant, Johor Melvin Lesley. Once he had to pay 10, 000 pounds to the government as a fine regarding a problem raised on a money deal done by him. Then he decided to vest this building to the government as a recumbent. British Governor Sir Fredrick North, taking this decision into consideration gave 8, 700 pounds bid for this building. As a result of this the Angalbeek palace was vested with the British Government on January 17 in 1804. But there is no evidence that Sir Fredrick North lived in that palace. His official residence was a building situated in an area, currently known as Nagalanveediya.

The first British Governor who resided in this palace was Sir Thomas Maitland. After that, this palace, which was the residence of 29 British Governors. Sir Robert Horton and John Anderson are outstanding persons among them. (Colombo Gazette)


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