The President's House is one of the most gracious pieces of architecture to be found in the city of Port of Spain. Set back amidst the lush green foliage and colourful tropical plants of the Botanic Gardens, its elongated facade is a tasteful mix of neo-Renaissance archways and fine Victorian detail.
Built in 1876, the house stands on land that was once a part of the Peschier family's Paradise Estate. In 1818, Governor Sir Ralph Woodford purchased part of the estate to create the Savannah; a portion was also earmarked for the Botanic Gardens and the Governor's House.
The Great House on the estate was remodelled in 1819 and by 1820 the new house was built. This building was situated a little in front of the present site of what is now the President's House and continued in use until 1867 when it was destroyed by fire, but re-erection was delayed by the Governor of the day.
During this period, 1867-1876, a building known as "The Cottage" was used as the Governor's Residence. This was formally the house of the estate manager. In July 1876, the foundation stone was laid for a new government house at St. Ann's on the present site. It continued to be the residence of the Governor of Trinidad and Tobago until 30th April 1958, when it became the residence of the Governor-General of the Federated West Indies, Lord Hailes.
The Federation came to an end on the 31st May 1962 when the building was vacated by the Governor-General who returned to England. Trinidad and Tobago attained Independence on 31st August 1962. On 4th September, the building was declared open as a Museum and Art Gallery by H.R.H. The Princess Royal.
On the 13th July 1960 Sir Solomon Hochoy was appointed the first local Governor of Trinidad and Tobago. In December 1965, Sir Solomon Hochoy moved back into the old stone mansion, which had been once more reconverted into the official residence.
On his retirement in 1973 Sir Solomon Hochoy was succeeded by Sir Ellis Clarke as Governor-General. On the 1st August 1976, when Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic, (the occasion is observed on 24th September), the Governor-General's House (subsequently designated "The President's House") became the residence of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago with President Ellis Clarke as the first President. He was followed in 1987 by His Excellency President Noor Hassanali who was inaugurated as President of the Republic on 19th March, 1987. He was re-elected in 1992 and he and Mrs. Hassanali continue to occupy The President's House. On 19th March 1997 ANR Robinson was inaugurated and is due to move into office on 19th March 1997.
Built on a super structure of iron and steel, the elegant stonework of the facade is local blue limestone from the Picadilly and Laventille quarries. The roofing is of Welsh Dutchess slates. The arched doorways and loggias are Italian in style, while the cast iron columns and filigreed railings offer examples of the finest Victoriana.
Inside, the house is spacious and dignified, with its red-carpeted Grand Staircase, the famous Long Room and Dining Hall, and the Great Hall or Sitting Room which is used for ceremonial occasions and which can seat over 200 persons. In addition to being the President's private residence, the House is used for swearing-in ceremonies, national awards ceremonies and diplomatic receptions. The President's Office is housed in a separate building on the grounds; the President's personal and Public Service staff have their offices there.
The President's House is set at one end of the Botanic Gardens, facing the Savannah near the St. Ann's roundabout. The public has always had access to these gardens, a privilege they continue to enjoy.