Situated on a hill that overlooks the downtown basin and heart of Amman, Darat al Funun’s buildings are the backdrop for the city’s history and the stage on which some of its most significant events unfolded.
Nimr Pasha al Hmoud, the mayor of Salt, a prominent Jordanian city, began construction of the Main Building in 1918. The building lay adjacent to a sixth century Byzantine church that was built over a Roman Temple. The two-story building served as the official residence of the British commander of the Arab Legion, Colonel F. G. Peake, until 1938. In 1921, T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, lived at this house for three months, as referenced in Major C. S. Jarvis’s Arab Command: The Biography of Lieutenant-Colonel F.G. Peake Pasha (p. 70, 83). In 1939, the building was leased to the Jordanian government and served for a short while as the Prime Minister’s office. In 1939, the building was leased to the Jordanian government and served for a short while as the Prime Minister’s office. From 1939, when Glubb Pasha became commander of the Arab Legion, until 1956, when the commandment of the Arab Legion was Arabized, the house was used as a club for British officers. In 1956 it was converted into a private school, the Arab School for Girls. The building was abandoned from 1978 until 1992 when the Shoman Foundation bought it, and restoration started.
The exhibition showcases the historic renovation and preservation of the archaeological site and the condition of these buildings, with never seen images by architect Ammar Khammash, and how these heritage homes were transformed to become the home for the arts that they are today.
Image: Darat al Funun's Main Building overlooking downtown Amman, 1920s.