The brick-and-timber house was originally known as Hibbert House, named after Thomas Hibbert, reportedly one of four members of the House of Assembly who in 1755 engaged in a bet to build the finest house and thereby win the attention of a much-sought-after beauty (he lost the bet). In 1872, when the capital was moved from Spanish Town to Kingston, the house became the seat of the Jamaican legislature and remained so until 1960, when Gordon House was built next door.
Since 1983, Headquarters House has hosted the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, which has its offices in the former bedrooms and an extension. Visitors are welcome to visit the rest of the building, including the former debating chamber on the ground floor, holding portraits of Jamaica’s national heroes and a piano in the corner, which was used to compose Jamaica’s national anthem. Upstairs is a lookout tower of the type commonly built by the wealthy merchants of yesteryear to espy incoming vessels.