“Why isn’t mummy here?”
This is a question that often comes from the tiny lips of four-year-old Danielle Ramsoomair.
An old Art Deco-style house on Queen’s Park West was demolished last weekend to make room for a private car park, which is intended to be used by contractor Junior Sammy when he visits the neighbouring property he now owns — the historic Boissiere House. President of Citizens for Conservation Rudylynn Roberts said the demolished house represented a period of architecture in Trinidad which needed to be recognised.
Even though the building was not as beautiful as other historic houses, it had merit, she added. “We were sad to see it go. Suddenly you just saw all these trucks there,” Roberts said by phone on Tuesday. Another member of the group, Geoffrey MacLean, said because the demolished house was not a particularly decorative style, it was perhaps less noticed than the more elaborate examples of T&T’s heritage.
“This actually would be the second similar building to be recently demolished in this area, which would include the building at the corner of Stanmore Avenue and Queen’s Park West,” he said via e-mail. Roberts and MacLean agreed maintaining the buildings of different styles around the Savannah would be an important aspect of Trinidad’s historic preservation. “We need to have another look at houses like that and if there are any in fairly good condition we should try to preserve them,” Roberts said.
She said perhaps it was time to re-group and look at what could be done to save similar houses. When contacted, Marlon Green of the National Trust, said the house was never on the inventory for properties of interest. “It was not on the list and it was not at all considered,” he said, adding that the trust had no history records or information about the building. MacLean estimated it was built between 1930-1935. He said one of the positives about the building being demolished was it gave people a better view of the adjacent Boissiere House.
“(Conversely) adding additional space to the Boissiere House minimises any intrusion of the site and indeed allows greater visibility of the structure, an important aspect for public interest,” he added. When asked about the Boissiere House next door and the ongoing renovations, Roberts said she was pleased to see the way the restoration of the house was going, and the new owner was being sensitive to its integrity.
“From her observations,” she said, “they are being very careful and trying not to destroy anything. It’s looking quite nice.” The T&T Guardian understands the house was purchased as a surprise gift for Sammy’s birthday and since then work on the house has been ongoing, apparently to restore it. Roberts said she had spoken to Sammy directly and said he was proud to own it and had given assurances he would not do anything to damage the integrity of the house.
“Citizens for Conservation are very happy. They’ve done a lovely job.” Asked what the building would be used for Roberts said she did not know but was not worried. “They have taken so much care up to this point, I don’t believe anything will be done to destroy the fabric of the house.”