An oasis of calm amidst the chaos of Pettah
Built to last
The high roofed, red-tiled, 17th century mansion with an intimidating row of thick columns was the official residence of the Dutch Governor Thomas Van Rhee from 1692-1697. Everything about the building indicates that its architects built it to last a very long time. Easily one of the only and best-preserved Dutch era buildings in Pettah, and still retaining much of its original charm, you feel like you’ve entered another world and time as soon as you walk through the doorways. Its display of ancient artefacts, ceramics and weapons isn’t huge, but still quite interesting. The collection of headstones is really worth a look. Climb the creaky stairways that lead upstairs and find yourself in huge rooms filled with antique furniture, that feel as old as the building.
New life for old building
After the governor’s residence moved to a more prestigious location in Fort, the building had many different lives: a teacher training college, an orphanage and then a post office in the early 20th century. It suffered major damage in the 70s and would probably have been demolished if not for the ardent efforts of local conservationists. It’s been closed for renovations since 2016 with no clear date on when it will be re-opened to the public.