With Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy and the 7th largest in Africa by GDP, entering its 60th year since becoming a Republic and celebrating Jamhuri day, a walk down memory lane is a great way to memorialize the history of this country.
Kenya gained independence on the 12th of December 1963 with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta becoming the Prime Minister and later became President in 1964.
And what better way to do this than by paying homage to the country’s architectural history?
In this article. we will look at some buildings that are more than 60 years old.
Due to their impeccable construction work, these iconic buildings have stood the test of time. And their architectural grandeur will continue to wow us as long as they stand. These buildings are a symbol of the times past and serve as reminders of what great craftsmanship looks like.
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- What Are Some Well-Known Structures or Monuments in Kenya That Have Been in Existence For More Than 60 Years?
What Are Some Well-Known Structures or Monuments in Kenya That Have Been in Existence For More Than 60 Years?
Here are some iconic buildings in Kenya older than 60 years old with significant historical backgrounds;
Karen Blixen Museum
The Karen Blixen house is located in Karen Nairobi. This house was built in 1912 by Swedish Engineer Ake Sjogren. Karen Blixen and her husband, Baron Bro Von Blixen Fincke, bought the house in 1917. When they divorced, her husband moved out while she lived there until 1931 before returning to Denmark.
The Karen Blixen Museum gained popularity after the release of the movie ‘Out of Africa’ based on Karen Blixen’s autobiography.
Kenya National Archives
The Kenya National Archives building was built in 1965 and established as an Act of Parliament in Kenya that same year. It houses 40,000 public historical records and archives from the pre-colonial era. The ground floor of the building houses African artifacts that were collected in the 19th century under the Murumbi Gallery collection.
The building once played host to the National Bank of India and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
The building is a main landmark in Nairobi and a popular point of reference for people giving directions or meeting with people who are not familiar with the city. It is a few meters from the Tom Mboya statue that was erected a few meters from where he was assassinated.
The Nairobi Gallery building is located on the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Uhuru Highway roundabout next to Nyayo house. It is considered a national monument. The gallery was built in 1913 and was initially the Old PC’s office.
It was commonly known as the ‘Hatches, Matches and Dispatches’ building because it was used to house birth, marriage, and death certificates.
The gallery is currently used as a museum and houses contemporary art from Kenya and other African countries. It has six rooms that are used to house different art collections.
It also has a Murumbi collection named after Joseph and Sheila Murumbi, avid African artifacts and art collectors. The couple then sold their collection to the government in 1976.
Jamia Mosque is the most popular mosque in Kenya. Syed Maulana Abdullah Shah established the Jamia mosque as a prayer center in 1902.
The mosque was constructed between 1925 and 1933. It was the center of the Muslim religion in Kenya pre-independence.
There is no question that the architectural design of Jamia mosque is iconic. It features twin minarets and three silver domes. It is considered a central prayer location and is frequented by Muslims from all over the country. It is a prime prayer location for most Muslim business owners or employed persons in the CBD.
Nairobi National Museum
The Nairobi National Museum was built in 1929. It is the main museum in Kenya and the headquarters of the National Museum of Kenya. It is frequented by individuals interested in the extensive collection of Kenyan art and artifacts that showcase the country’s history and culture.
The museum also houses fossils discovered in Kenya and other mementos showcasing Kenya’s nature. It boasts a collection of human fossils from different stages of human evolution.
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All Saints Cathedral
This Anglican church is one of the oldest churches in Kenya. The Cathedral was built in 1917 for colonial Christians, and only whites were allowed in until 1963 when Kenya gained independence. The church is built in a British Gothic style, featuring two massive stone towers similar to medieval England architecture.
Mai Mahiu Catholic Church
Mai Mahiu Catholic Church, also known as Italian Prisoners of War, built the ‘Travelers Church during the Second World War. The prisoners of war built the church while working on the Mai Mahiu Road. The prisoners of war were not allowed into the Anglican British church, seeing as they were catholic. As a result, they decided to build their place of worship.
This church measures 15*8 feet and is pentagon-shaped and has the title of the smallest church in Kenya with only four benches. It is beautifully decorated using Latin inscriptions and symbols. It also features glass-stained windows, and its front doors are engraved in Latin words.
Kipande house is on the corner of Kenyatta Avenue and Loita Street in Nairobi’s Central Business District. It was built in 1913 and named Kipande since identification cards were to be applied for and issued at Kipande’s house.
The house was used to register Africans working or running businesses in Nairobi. After Henry Belfield, Kenya’s governor between 1912 and 1917, issued the directive. Kipande House was Nairobi’s tallest building until 1935 when the Nairobi city hall was built.
Nairobi Post Office
The Nairobi post office is located along Kenyatta Avenue. It was opened in 1907 and is commonly known as the General Post Office (GPO). The Nairobi post office used a visual notification system to let Europeans living in Kenya during colonial times of letter and parcel arrival.
McMillan Memorial Library
Image by PATRICK MEINHARDT/AFP via Getty Images
The McMillan Memorial library was opened in June 1931 by the then Governor Sir Joseph A. Bryne in honor of Sir William Northrup McMillan. The McMillan family built the library. The library houses over 400,000 books and periodicals dating back to 1901. It was initially opened as a white-only library, which changed after Kenya gained independence.
Lord Egerton Castle
Lord Egerton Castle is located in Njoro, which is 25.4 kilometers from Nakuru. The castle was built between 1938 and 1952 by Lord Maurice Egerton. The castle sits on a beautiful property with huge canopy trees and mature gardens.
The story goes that Lord Egerton built the house to impress his bride-to-be but failed and spent the rest of his life at the castle in misery.
Treetops Lodge is located in Mount Kenya National Park. It has a Mugumo tree growing through it, and it initially featured three bedrooms with an 8-bed capacity. The Lodge was built in 1932 by Major Eric Sherbrooke for his spouse, Lady Bettie.
Queen Elizabeth gained the title of Her Majesty the Queen at the Treetop Lodge in 1952 after her father’s passing. The lodge was burnt down in 1954 by Mau Mau rebels during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising. The lodge was reopened in 1957 with an increased bed capacity of 14.
Kenyatta House, named after Jomo Kenyatta, is in Maralal, Samburu. While the exact construction date of the Kenyatta house is unknown, the house was used to detain Mzee Jomo Kenyatta by the British colonizers. The three-bedroomed bungalow housed Kenya’s first president after he was transferred from Lodwar prison as negotiations for independence were ongoing.
It is believed that the third President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, was born in this house.
Parliament buildings were modeled after the Big Ben Clock from the United Kingdom. The buildings were built in 1954 as legislative buildings for the British parliament.
This building currently houses the members of parliament as well as the senators.
Nairobi City Hall
Nairobi City Hall was constructed in the 1950s. It was the tallest building in Nairobi for years due to the clock tower standing at 165 ft high. The building was expanded in 1981 when the 13-story annex was constructed.