National Trust of Guyana

Castellani House (National Gallery of Art)

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Location: Vlissengen Road, Georgetown

Classification: Community

Period/ Year Built: 19th century

Historical Background / Description:

Officially known as the National Gallery of Art, Castellani House is a 19th century colonial structure that was designed by notable architect, Mr. Cesar Castellani. The building is located on Vlissengen Road, Georgetown, east of Bourda. The original building is believed to have been constructed sometime during the period 1878-1882 and was a two-storey building. 

The structure was built as the official residence of the Government Botanist, the first of whom was Mr. George S. Jenman who took up residence in 1883. Sometime after 1889, the ground floor was used as offices for the staff of the Director of Agriculture, while the upper floor was used for residential purposes. 

In 1942, a third floor in some areas was added, causing a change in the roof’s design. In 1965, additional changes were done to the building by Guyanese architect, Mr. Hugh Mc Gregor Reid. In the same year, Prime Minister of British Guiana, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham took up residence at the building until the time of his death in 1985; during this period the building was known as “The Residence”. It was not until May 24, 1993, that the structure had a new formal use as the permanent home of the National Art Collection and was officially addressed as Castellani House. Features of this three-storey timber structure include its wide overhangs, rotating louvered windows and tower.