Jacaranda was built in 1840 by Chief Justice, Sir George Anderson out of ballast stones that arrived on a ship from Georgia.
Now Jacaranda is owned by the estate of the late Sir Harry Oakes. It has had a series of owners and a series of names. It has been enlarged and remodeled and modernized, but it remains basically the same today as it was over 100 years ago.
The house, first known as “Anderson House,” passed from the Anderson family to the Williams family, then to the Miller family around the turn of the century, and then finally being bought by the Oakes family who it has remained with for over 60 years.
As the years passed, its name changed from “Anderson House” to “Everton House” to “Jacaranda” but to some, it is known as “the Old Miller Place”. Mr. William Miller, who married Maud Williams, was Surveyor General of The Bahamas at the time. In 1944 the house passed for a short time back into the Anderson family when it was purchased by Sidney Farrington, great nephew of George Anderson, and his sisters.
During World War II Captain Vyvian Drury, who came to The Bahamas as ADC to the Duke of Windsor, purchased the house and it was Captain Drury who began the first extensive renovations. Where the present dining room is, was at one time the old kitchens. They were torn down in the late thirties and the new wing built.
The property was bought in 1949, by Eunice, Lady Oakes, widow of the late Sir Harry Oakes, Bt. Her daughter, Shirley Oakes Butler, took the property over in the 1960’s. It was during this period that the extensive renovation works were carried out including the designing of the stunning swimming pool, which can be seen in the famous photograph included in The Bahamas section of Slim Aarons’ book ‘A Wonderful Life’ originally printed in 1973. Frequent dinner parties were held and many famous people were entertained in these beautiful surroundings.
The house was designed in the elegant colonial style of the period and the restoration work currently underway on the property is being done to restore it to it’s form colonial glory. Today it is listed as an historic building. It sits on a rectangular shaped plot, bounded by East Hill Street to the South and Parliament Street to the East and Charlotte Street to the West.
East Hill and West Hill Street, located on either side on Government House were the social centre of Nassau until the 1970’s, when the wealthy families whom had traditionally owned and lived in these wonderful homes, set high on the ridge overlooking the Harbour, started to move West to Lyford Cay. Sadly, most of these magnificent houses no longer exist or are in a terrible state of repair.
Tragically in April 1981, Shirley Oakes had a serious car accident and died in 1986, when the house passed to her elder sister, Nancy Oakes von Hoyningen Huene. Although Nancy never lived at jacaranda, a housekeeper by the name of Mme Legros, who worked for the Duchess of Windsor, was appointed to maintain the property.
Nancy died in 2005, and the property has now been acquired by her daughter Patricia Oakes Leigh-Wood and niece Virginia Oakes McKinney, and is held within their holding company, Greshanda Properties Limited.