The African Heritage House, overlooking the Nairobi National Park, is on sale.
The picturesque house, designed and built by American Alan Donovan in 1989, is a combination of mud architectures from across Africa that houses over 6,000 rare and precious items collected over half a century.
An advert posted on Knight Frank does not indicate specific prices, but Donovan says the house that sits on 7.7 acres on the edge of the park might cost US$3 million (KSh322.8 million).
But why is Donovan selling the gem?
Donovan came to Africa 50 years ago, in March 1970 to be specific, as a young man in the company of other explorers. Originally, Donovan just wanted to experience Kenya and not to settle down. But a visit to Turkana changed everything, he saw a place of rich culture, collecting some artefacts in the process and therefore the birth of the house.
He held his first exhibition of art and material culture from the Turkana and other peoples of Northern Kenya in October 1970. It was then he met Joseph Murumbi, the first Vice President of Kenya, and Africa’s most notable private collector.
Together, with Murumbi’s wife, Sheila, they opened African Heritage, the first Pan African gallery on the African continent, in 1972.
Now an ageing Donovan feels like it is time for another African art and culture enthusiast to look after the house.
“I am too old now and need to find someone who will look after the priceless items. I may go to another house in the vicinity and continue with my Pan Africa studies,” the 80-year-old former American aid worker told The Standard.
In January 2016, African Heritage House was declared a national monument.
“The sale should not affect the national status of the house as long as the new owner does not make alterations in the design and will follow in my footsteps and my co-founders, former Vice President Joseph Murumbi and his wife Sheila, in preserving, protecting and promoting African heritage,” says Donovan.
Africa’s most photographed house
Today, African Heritage House is referred to as Africa’s most photographed house. It was the first house in Africa to be featured in the prestigious US Architectural Digest in November 1996.
Over the years, African Heritage House went on to appear on the cover of Marie Claire and hosted a photo shoot for the St. John Collection for Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.