The first storey building in Nigeria is located in Badagry Lagos. But it is not surprising at all that this structural achievement had Lagos as its birthplace. For Lagos was the abode of the colonial masters as far as suitable location was concern.
Badagry is located on the bank of inland lagoons, a system of creeks, waterways that are navigable to Lagos and Porto Novo. And it is also reputed as the birth place of christianity in Nigeria.
The origin of the first storey building in Nigeria is rooted in the rise of Christianity as prompted by twenty three freed slaves who were resident in Freetown, Sierra Leone and wanted to return back to their home country Nigeria.
In November 1839 these freed slaves would write a petition to the Governor of Sierra Leone, and through the letter beg that Her Majesty, Queen Victoria of England, be graciously disposed to assist them in returning to their home country (Nigeria) and consequently help establish for them a colony in Badagry.
The governor transmitted their petition to Lord John Russell, the British Secretary of Foreign Affairs. whose response was, “we cannot send them without giving them security and protection which implies expense. But they can go if they wish to go”.
Some of these returnee slaves would eventually journey to badagry as planned while others ventured into Abeokuta and Lagos.
A year after returning back, one of the returnee’s by the name James Fergusson would send a letter to the superintendent of the Methodist Mission in Sierra Leone, requesting that missionaries be sent to them urgently.
On 24 September 1842 (a date that is now considered as the origin of Christianity in Nigeria) Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman, was deployed from his station in Cape Coast.
On the same day, he was taken to the famous Agia tree where the Christian gospel was first preached in Nigeria.
The arrival of Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman would inspire the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S) to send their own missionary by name Rev Henry Townsend that same year and both missionaries would observed the first Christmas service in December 25, 1842 under the famous Agia tree.
The arrival of Townsend and his report back to his superiors would lead to the arrival of another wave of missionaries consisting of Reverend and Mrs Henry Townsend, Reverend and Mrs C.A Golmer, Reverend and Mrs. S.A Crowther and their two children, Mr Marsh, a Catechist with his wife and two children, Mr Philips, a schoolmaster, Mr Willoughby, interpreter, and his family, four carpenters, three laborers and two servants. They all arrived on the 17th January, 1845. Reverend Samuel Annear of the Methodist Mission provided them accommodation till Chief Wawu and Chief Padowu Mobee were able to locate a piece of land for the C.M.S.
That piece of land would later house the first storey building in Nigeria.The very erection of this historical structure involved the services of the laborers who relied heavily on imported materials from Sierra Leone.
After completion, Rev Henry Townsend described the building thus “The House is strong and convenient and will prove very comfortable”. He also asserts that “the House is built of sound African wood principally of what we call brimstones. It is Ten feet raised from the ground on Twenty-six stout and durable trees and on nine other smaller trees. It is 44 ft long and 26ft wide. It is estimated to cost £325”.
This same building is where Rev Ajayi Crowther translated the Bible from English language to Yoruba.