The newly-restored and renovated old Cabildo Building, Sackville Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday was reopened as the Cabildo Law Museum. The building, a national heritage site, which had been in a state of disrepair in the past, was restored by the Office of the Attorney General, whose Cabildo Chambers offices are annexed to it.
While addressing a small gathering at the opening yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the museum would serve to chronicle the development of T&T's legal system as well as detailing the history and work of past attorneys general. He said the restoration works were financed using surplus funds from his office's budget allocation. The cost of the project has been estimated at a little over $300,000. The work was co-ordinated by the Historical Restoration Unit of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.
Ramlogan said: "History does not only show you where we have been but it maps where we are going. Many people pass by this building and do not recognise its special significance." He said the idea to restore the building was supported by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who also served as attorney general. He said It was an important part of T&T's Spanish heritage as it served as a registry and a town hall during the country's era of colonisation by Spain. The use of the Cabildo as a form of local government in Port-of-Spain was gradually phased out in the mid-1800s during British colonisation.
"As we celebrate the golden jubilee of our Independence it would be unfortunate not to honour one of the relics of our past. Here stands one of the symbols of our multi-cultural society and heritage," Ramlogan added. The building, an example of Spanish architecture, has been outfitted with hardwood floors, ceilings and doors which were constructed with local lumber.
The intricate and elaborate furniture which adorn the rooms of the small one-story building was handcrafted in California, United States, by a Mexican who specialises in Spanish-styled furniture. At the centre of the building is a shaded courtyard which features a sculpted fountain, specially chosen to resemble one which was installed in the building when it was constructed.
The museum is expected to feature documents and manuscripts originally stored at the building but were removed after its use had declined. Spanish ambassador, Joaquin De Aristegui, who spoke at the ceremony, pledge his government's support of the project. De Aristegui said his government had commissioned a book which would give a detailed historical account of Spanish history in T&T and also around the Caribbean.
The book is expected to be launched on Spanish National Day on October 12. De Aristegui also said digital replicas of several rare maps and documents relating to T&T, which were stored in the Spanish museum, would be donated by the Spanish Government to local museums. The Cabildo Law Museum is expected to be open to the public next month after a curator is recruited to manage it.