Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 15th 2013 Contents B3
Boissiere House, a quaint 109-
year-old cottage on the western
side of the Queen s Park Savan-
nah, is much loved by artists and
heritage preservation activists and
has been the subject of many
newspaper articles, including two
in the New York Times within the
last five years.
It s on the National Trust s inven-
tory of heritage buildings---but is
not yet legally protected from dem-
olition and significant alteration.
Ann Marie Aboud, the represen-
tative of the family who owns
Boissiere House, said no one has
to worry that they will demolish
it. Her reasoning, though, would
check any sighs of relief coming
"Why would we want to demol-
ish the building? The building
demolishing itself," she said. "The
building is falling apart by itself.
Nobody has to do it."
Time, car emissions and vagrants
have taken a severe toll on the
unoccupied house, said Aboud.
"Demolition by neglect" is the
term used to describe what happens
when heritage buildings are allowed
Heritage activists had been agi-
tating to get Government or wealthy
private donors sympathetic to their
cause to buy Boissiere House---
which is being offered at an asking
price of $20 million---but these
attempts have so far gone nowhere.
The family themselves clean the
house and do spot repairs, but it s
not enough to arrest the building s
decline. Right now they re con-
structing a brick wall around the
house to replace a fence that had
been partially built of wood and
kept falling onto the property next
"The wood would rotten under-
ground and then the whole fence
would fall on the people building,"
She s frustrated that more help
isn t forthcoming to save a building
many profess to love.
"All these guys only talking, talk-
ing, talking, but nobody s doing
anything to help," she said. "They
should have a special fund: If you
want to save this house send $2 or
send $5. Contribute."
Selling the house is proving dif-
ficult because prospective buyers
are wary of the legal restrictions
that will soon be attached to it, said
This is without adding the effort
typically involved in restoring and
maintaining a heritage building. It
can be a costly and trying process,
requiring specialist expertise and
Expensive job to maintain
Deacon Patrick Laurence, chair
of the Catholic Diocese s Arch-
diocesan Building Commission, a
panel of architects, lawyers, engi-
neers and other professionals who
guide the maintenance of church
property, said it was "wonderful"
that many of the institution s build-
ings were considered heritage prop-
erties. But he stressed the challenge
of maintaining buildings that have
been around from as far back as
the 19th century.
"The materials that were used
then and the materials that are used
now are not the same. Not only are
they different, they re not compat-
ible," he said. "The older buildings
[use] lime mortar. Because lime
mortar is not readily available every-
where, it has to be imported at great
The headache doesn t end there.
"Because it s lime mortar you
cannot use the modern emulsion
and oil paints. You have to use a
special type of paint that allows
the walls to breathe," said Laurence.
"So although it s very well and good
to have all these designated historic
sites, it s a very expensive job to
The maintenance of Archbishop s
House---which, like the Anglican
bishop s residence, Hayes Court, is
one of the Magnificent Seven build-
ings around the Queen s Park
Savannah---has sucked up "several
million dollars" in the last two years
alone, said Laurence.
The Anglican Diocese has been
struggling for years to keep Hayes
Court from deteriorating but the
expense has limited its efforts. Dou-
ble doors like the ones now being
eaten by termites were replaced a
few years ago, taking care to retain
the look of the original.
"Those six doors cost $65,000,"
said Bishop Calvin Bess, who over-
saw this and other refurbishment
efforts. "Things were done, but we
didn t have enough money to do
as much as we would have loved
to have done."
Other countries with heritage
protection laws help private owners
in a variety of ways, including
grants, loans on favourable terms
and tax relief.
The Catholic Diocese received $2
million from the Ministry of Works
last year to help refurbish Arch-
bishop s House, and the construc-
tion materials the church imports
are exempt from customs duties.
CONTINUES ON PAGE B4
In this conclusion of the story about the conservation
of our architectural heritage, a series which we began
last week, ERLINE ANDREWS discusses the phenom-
enon of "demolition by neglect."
the art is
and oils ---Page B22
Artist Richard Bridgens' lithograph
of the Cathedral of the Immaculate
published in the 1830s.
Restoration work on the northern side of the Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception, Port-of-Spain, is close to completion but there is still no
projected date for finishing the entire project.
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