In December 1917, when General Allenby entered the Old City of Jerusalem on foot through the Jaffa Gate, British rule over Palestine began.
The British, who governed first by military government, and then later by Mandatory administration (until Israel’s independence in 1948), set up their administrative centre for the country in Jerusalem. During these years, Jerusalem began to transform from a provincial town of the Ottoman era to a modern administrative, political, religious, and cultural centre.
Building activity began almost immediately and Jerusalem expanded to the north, south, and west. The British determined the municipal zones, commercial areas, density of construction, use of materials and height of buildings. Perhaps their most influential contribution to the character of architecture in Jerusalem was a municipal ordinance which remains in effect to this day requiring all new buildings to be faced with stone, lending a certain romantic quality to the buildings.
Israeli journalist Lili Eylon, notes that; “While much of the public building in Jerusalem was initiated and financed by Jewish organizations, the British constructed Government House (the residence of the High Commissioner), St. Andrew’s Church, the Central Post Office and the Government Printing House.” (Lili Eylon, Focus on Israel: Jerusalem-Architecture in the British Mandate Period, (MFA, 1999