Old Government House Museum
Old Government House Museum (284/494-4091, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $3 adults, children under 10 free), on the hill behind the Governor’s Office at the western end of Main Street, is a study of the island’s colonial past and present. The white, Spanish-inspired home was built in the late 1920s after the original Government House was destroyed in a powerful 1924 hurricane.
The building served as the home of the island’s British governor until the mid-1990s, when it was decided it was no longer up to the task. While in use, it was often referred to as Olympus by islanders because of its position overlooking Road Town and, presumably, because of the superior attitude of those who inhabited it.
After years of debate over the future of the building—and a very real proposal to tear it down—Government House underwent modest restoration and reopened as a museum in 2003. A new residence for the governor was built next to the old one.
The museum’s exhibits include historic paraphernalia, such as a guest book signed by Queen Elizabeth II and the plumed pith helmet worn by governors at parades and ceremonial occasions up until 2000. The dining and sitting rooms of the museum are set up as they would have been during earlier days. Upstairs is a library that contains an ad hoc but rich selection of books and articles about the British Virgin Islands. Other rooms are dedicated to the British Virgin Islands’ Quaker history and its stamps.
The best thing about the museum is being able to see inside this stately and singular building, an experience that will take you back in time if you let it. There are also nice views of Road Harbour from the museum’s second-floor veranda, and a small garden at the rear, where you can stroll or sit. The museum’s shop sells books, crafts, and gifts.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition