The Architectural History of Liberia
WINSTON D. RICHARDS
DR. AARON SYLVESTER BROWN
GABRIEL JOHNSON TUCKER
RANCLIEFF VANJAH RICHARDS
As the colony grew, wealthier settlers, merchants, successful farmers and government officials employed architects, draftsmen and construction workers to build their mansions, townhomes and farmhouses. These houses, in the cities and towns and in the St. Paul River settlements, were constructed of stone and brick, stone being obtained from a quarry they built at Mamba Point, then on Monrovia’s heavily wooded outskirts, now a part of the city. The brick was mostly imported from America, as the settlers preferred imports to the lower quality homemade bricks
Buchanan, Grand Bassa Photo courtesy of: Matt Jones/Moved2Monrovia.com
CAD rendering of DUCOR HOTEL renovation
CAPITOL BUILDING SOUVENIR BROCHURE
CAPITOL BUILDING SOUVENIR BROCHURE 2
CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL PAVILION, completed in 1951, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Republic. Possibly designed by Howard University's Hilyard Robinson, whose numerous designs for this site were mostly unbuilt. The CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL MONUMENT in front was erected in 1947, the 100th year of independence. It was designed and built by Dr. Aaron Sylvester Brown.
DUCOR in the early 1970s
The late Fifties public building spree initiated by President Tubman with the assistance of Israel culminated in this Six Million Dollar EXECUTIVE MANSION, COMPLETED IN 1962 Photo courtesy of Matt Jones/Moved2Monrovia.com
EXECUTIVE MANSION from 1910 up into the mid-Fifties. Originally a hotel owned by A. Momolu Massaquoi and Charles B. Roberts, building was refurbished as the Mansion by Jamaican-born Liberian architect Clifford Brown. Arthur Barclay was the first president to actually reside there.
EXECUTIVE PAVILION, Ashmun Street side. Photo by tlcafrica.com
EXECUTIVE PAVILION in the 1960s
GOVERNMENT SQUARE, SITE OF CENTENNIAL PAVILION, before the Pavilion was erected.
Hartford, Grand Bassa Photo courtesy of: Matt Jones/Moved2Monrovia.com
This building, constructed in 1864, housed the Supreme Court, Senate and House of Representatives. It now houses the National Museum. Besides water damage and decades of neglect and disrepair, it has also undergone some changes to its original appearance, as shown in the next photograph. Photo courtesy of: Matt Jones/Moved2 Monrovia.com
The old SENATE BUILDING in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of: Matt Jones/Moved2 Monrovia.com
PRESIDENT J. J. ROBERTS' RESIDENCE actually looked like this in 1850
PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH was built in 1839, on the site of an earlier edifice constructed in 1822 by the passengers of the Elizabeth, first ship sponsored by the American Colonization Society. The congregation was led by Lott Carey. PROVIDENCE BAPTIST was the site of the 1847 constitutional convention and the Declaration of Independence, July 26, 1847. Photo by Ute Klissenbauer and Korto Williams
Rear of CENTENNIAL PAVILION
Islam is a major religion in Liberia, in the north, west, and in Monrovia.
Some of those old houses are remarkably well preserved; others are in varying states of decrepitude, having suffered years of neglect, abandonment and war damage. Photo courtesy of: Matt Jones/Moved2 Monrovia.com
The CAPITOL BUILDING, seat of the National Legislature, was constructed in 1957, as shown in this souvenir brochure.
The DUCOR HOTEL
The DUCOR PALACE HOTEL, dominating the Monrovia skyline from the top of Cape Mesurado, was constructed in 1964. The hotel was designed by award-winning architect Neal Prince for Intercontinental Hotels in conjunction with Pan American World Airways. Having suffered heavy shelling, looting and partial destruction during the war, the hotel was slated for renovation with Libyan assistance, until the fall of the Khadaffi regime. Photo courtesy of Matt Jones/Moved2 Monrovia.com
The EXECUTIVE PAVILION renovated in 2011. Photo by tlcafrica.com
The EXECUTIVE PAVILION was heavily damaged during the war.
The EXECUTIVE PAVILION was constructed in 1951, designed by Jamaican -born Liberian architect Clifford Brown. It was the site of an assassination attempt against President Tubman, in 1955.
The first building intended for use as the official residence of the President of Liberia was constructed in 1850, three years after independence. The EXECUTIVE MANSION was on Ashmun Street where it still stands. However, it looks very different than it did in 1850. Several alterations through the years of its use as a public library, museum, and National Bar Association law library, have drastically changed its appearance, reducing both its aesthetic and historical value. Professor Svend Holsoe: "The building was originally the private home of J. J. Roberts where he resided during his first two terms of his presidency. He then built a new home in the same block of Ashmun Street closer to CWA. Pictures of the newer home can be found, before it was torn down. After his first presidency, Roberts sold the first home to the government for $11,000 to be paid at the rate of $1,000 a year. And, as indicated above it was used as the Presidential Mansion into the beginning of the 20th century, probably through Howard's administration." The building actually served as the Mansion up to 1910, when Arthur Barclay occupied a new edifice further down Ashmun Street. Photo by Ute Klissenbauer and Korto Williams.
The MINISTRY OF JUSTICE BUILDING was originally President William V.S. Tubman's private residence. He leased it to the government for use as the State Department until the new Mansion on Capitol Hill was completed in 1962. The State Department then moved to the Old Mansion further down Ashmun Street and this building became the Department of Justice. In 1972 President William R. Tolbert changed the nomenclature to the Ministry of Justice.
The building was remodeled in the mid-Fifties to look like this. This was the Mansion until 1962, when it became the State Department. It was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1972 until 1979, during which time its former grandeur and elegant furnishings could still be seen.
The African-American settlers, free blacks from Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and other states, brought with them the Greek revival and colonial styles of the plantation houses and townhomes of the American South. Wide verandas, Greek porticos and Doric columns rendered the feel and texture of Charleston, Atlanta or Baltimore, in the middle of tropical Africa.
Prior to the country’s founding by African-Americans in 1822, the indigenous people of what was then the Grain Coast constructed their houses in the Sudanese style of African architecture. Village houses were rectangular or circular, seven or eight feet high, with conical roofs that rose to a peak in the middle. They had from one to six rooms, with the kitchen and bathroom being separate structures several yards from the house. Photo by Paul Julien, 1932 Rotterdam Photo Museum
DUCOR HALL, const 1924.