This majestic timber building exhibits features of Victorian Architecture. The Victorian style is tied to a specific time (era) in history when Queen Victoria ruled Britain from 1837 to 1901. This era saw tremendous changes worldwide, particularly in architecture, resulting in a variety of styles emerging, each with its own distinctive features. Styles that were prevalent during the Victorian era include Colonial Revivals, Gothic and Greek Revivals, Italianate, Second French Empire, Queen Anne, among others.
The Prime Minister’s Residence exhibits features of the Italianate style of Architecture. This style began in England around the mid 1800s as part of the Picturesque movement, a reaction to the formal classical ideals in art and architecture which was very popular for about 200 years. It was inspired by the rambling, informal Italian villas of northern Italy, well known for their small towers, irregular floor plans and decorative detailing. The Italianate style had much artistic freedom in its design and ornamentation especially at eaves, porches, windows and doorways.
Typical features of an Italianate building are: square, L or T-shaped floor plan, two or three storeys high topped with a squared tower or copula, low-pitched roof and windows are usually tall, narrow and often arched or curved at the top.
The eaves around the copula or tower are decorated with brackets, either paired or single. The projecting eaves of the main roof also carries decorative brackets.
These are common features of the Prime Minister’s building, having an L-shaped plan and an accentuated tower decorated at the eaves with well-crafted timber brackets. These brackets are very much noticeable at the western façade as well just below the main projecting roof. The tower it should be noted is unusual as it does not have a ‘widow’s walk’ which is a local feature on buildings of this nature allowing views of ships leaving and returning.
Another distinctive feature of this three storey timber structure is the double glazed rounded sash window with decorated hood just above, supported by timber brackets. This type of window can be seen very prominently on the western façade of the building.
Other unique features are: the bay window on the ground floor on the western side of the building, open L-shaped porch at the northern and eastern façades and Demerara windows, a ubiquitous feature of colonial timber buildings in Georgetown. These windows can be seen in many variations, each uniquely crafted, having distinct ornamental characteristics. In this case, it comprises a top-hung louvered shutter behind which is a six-paned Georgian sash window. The entrance porch roof is supported by beautifully turned timber posts and joined by arches.