Virtual Tour: Vestibule and Hall
Government House is entered through a Porte-Cochère and a series of rooms (Porch, Vestibule and Hall), all of which protect it from the elements. The porch itself has grown out onto the drive over the years.
In the bright, well-windowed Vestibule are some interesting pieces of furniture. The table on which the Visitor's Book sits is part of what the Georgian period called a set of dining tables. It is one of the few remaining pieces of furniture from the original Government House in Fort Townshend. Opposite is a sofa that is part of the furniture ordered for this house in 1829.
Moving into the Hall we see, on the right, a classically-detailed mantlepiece above which is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth. Opposite is the Grinling Gibbons style plaque which lists all the Governors of Newfoundland from the time of Henry Osborne in 1729.
Above is the first of a series of ceilings by Alexander Pindikowsky, a Polish fresco-painter who, having been convicted of forgery, did part of his sentence working here and in the Colonial Building.
The crossing of the Hall and the Passage becomes a kind of sacred space for here stand the colours of the Royal Newfoundland regiment. The original colours, which were presented in World War I, are set in the niche.
Lighting the Passage is an oval gallery above which is a domed skylight. The walls and doors of the rooms above which face on the gallery are curved to enhance the effect of the space.
At the eastern end of this passage, beside the Lieutenant-Governor's Office, is a superbly delicate semi-circular staircase leading to the upper floor with masonry steps, cast-iron balusters and a mahogany rail. This was, not surprisingly, one of the features that contributed to the cost of the building; now we would say it contributed more to the elegance of Government House.