The historic 115 year old Whitehall building, one of the Magnificent seven around the Queen’s Park Savannah will from Monday, again be the office of the Prime Minister.
Dr. Rowley made the announcement at a reopening ceremony yesterday as the Office of the Prime Minister took delivery of the newly renovated Whitehall from the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), which had managed the extensive repairs and renovations.
At the handing over ceremony on Thursday night Dr. Rowley said “Today we accept from the contractors and the UDeCOTT staff, Whitehall, which the staff is beginning to move into and over the weekend they will continue and the Prime Minister will work here for the first time next week. Next Monday, the Prime Minister will come here to work for the first time in a very long, long time”.
The last Prime Minister to work in the building was the late Patrick Manning, whom Dr. Rowley succeeded as leader of the ruling People’s National Movement in 2010. It was during late Prime Minister Manning’s last tenure as Prime Minister, that the Office of the Prime Minister was relocated St Clair Avenue, St Clair in 2009, due to leaking roofs and fragile floors and other infrastructural issues which deemed it uninhabitable at that time.
Following the collapse of the cocoa industry the property, which was originally owned by a wealthy cocoa family, was sold to American businessman Robert Henderson. Whitehall was then given its name after the coral stone from which it was built.
By the beginning of the Second World War, Whitehall had been commandeered to be used as security headquarters. It was later used as a cultural centre by the British Council, as well as to house the Trinidad Central Library, Regional Library, National Archives, the Trinidad Art Society and the Government Broadcasting Unit.
In October 1954, it was formerly purchased by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Restoration work was completed in 2000 and was occupied by the Office of the Prime Minister until 2009.