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Waterloo
Guest House History

The Waterloo property has been so named from at least 1826, when a house
and other buildings were left in the will of Mary Hook, whose father Duncan
Hook had been a wealthy merchant in Black River.
The property was named after the Battle of Waterloo which took place in
Belgium in 1815.

Waterloo was the first private home in Jamaica to be lit by electricity, installed
in 1893. It also had what was probably the first indoor swimming pool on the
island. This was located to the left of the house (viewing from the front). The
pool was eventually filled in.
The property was acquired by John William Leyden, whose grave lies at the
back of the property. Leyden came to Jamaica from Britain as a young man in
the 1830s. He was a smart businessman, and by the time of his death in 1889
he was one of Jamaica’s richest men, having made most of his fortune right
here in Black River.

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John Leyden’s three sons (who were Jamaican born, not English, and not white, as many have said) inherited the property. It was the sons who had the electricity installed. The Leydens were racehorse breeders. It is said that the stables at Waterloo were tiled and cooled by electric fans. After the Leydens, the house was owned by the Iver (formerly Isaacs) family, then the Levy family, who operated Waterloo as a guest house. Dr. Ferdinand Stewart, great-grandfather of the present owners, bought the property in 1939. The Stewart family has therefore been in possession of Waterloo longer than any of its previous owners. Mrs. Lynette Stewart, wife of Dr. Ferdinand Stewart, operated a private school of renown at Waterloo for many years. The school was named Black River High School. The year of construction of the present house is uncertain. Some say it was built in 1819, others say it was built in the 1860s or 1870s.
The inclusion of 
Waterloo in Mary Hook’s will does suggest that there was a dwelling house here in the early 1800s, but whether this is the same house we know and love today, we can’t say for sure. But we can be certain that this lovely property by the sea has carried a proud name in Black River for the last 200 years! Waterloo has been designated a Heritage building by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
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