BY HAROLD AYODO
It is a lavish home constructed over 100 years ago, demolished, translocated and re-built, brick by brick, exactly like it originally was.
Ewart Scott Grogan constructed the famous house along Riverside, Nairobi in 1905 and Sir Northrup McMillan bought it in 1910. Since then, Grogan House has changed ownership among the wealthy and is currently owned by Dr Bonnie Dunbar. Grogan House translocated to Karen and rebuilt to look exactly like the old house.
Grogan House translocated to Karen and rebuilt to look exactly like the old house.
The whole complex was commonly referred to as Shamba ya Bwana Simba (the Lion’s Den), according to excerpts from Lost Lion of Empire, E Paice.
"Historians are fascinated by the lodge’s rich history and the life of Grogan who left a mark in Kenya," says Dunbar.
Grogan was nicknamed ‘Kenya’s Churchill’ while the Kikuyu referred to him as Bwana Chui (Mr Leopard) because of his accomplishments. He distinguished himself in both World Wars, fighting behind enemy lines in German East Africa.
Gertrude’s Children Hospital
Grogan established the first timber industry in the country and a deep-water port in Mombasa in 1925. He also built the leading hotel in East Africa — Torr’s, ‘The Carlton of East Africa’ — and the first children’s hospital (Gertrude’s Children Hospital) named after his wife. How Grogan and Gertrude married is another interesting story. It is said he married her after impressing his father-in-law with his famous Cape Town to Cairo trek.
Back to the Grogan Lodge, It was sold to Sir Northrup McMillan in 1910, the same settler who founded the coffee plantation.
"Northrup was an American (Canadian parents) married to an American Bostonian, Lady McMillan who founded the first national library in Nairobi," says Dunbar.
When Sir Northrup McMillan died, he was buried on the slopes of Oldonya Sabuk and his wife Lady McMillan inherited the McMillan House.
The Grogan House, on the other hand, was inherited by Lady McMillan’s lady servant and companion of many years whom she had brought with her from Boston.
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