Overview

There is a long history connected to this residence, especially since it has been the prime minister’s residence. The residence dates back to 1830, being a private villa of British civil servants and merchants. In 1856, the then owner Philip Green introduced the name “Temple Trees” because the villa was surrounded by many temple trees. Since that time the residence is better known by this name. The building was bought by the British Government of Ceylon for its colonial secretary. Since the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948 it has been the residence of the prime minister, the first being D.S. Senayake. It is a monumental, imposing building. Not all prime ministers took their residence in this villa; some preferred their own private house as their residence and used the Prime Minister’s House only in case of official events. The residence has been the center court for domestic problems. In 1962 it was the focus point for a coup attempt, which failed. The first female Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike was brought to this place after an assassination attempt was uncovered in 1971. During the civil war between the government and the LTTE the Prime Minister’s Residence was the place from where the military actions were planned; it was guarded at that time as a fortress, while the surrounding streets were a no-go area.

 

 

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