Safety First

Friday, May 21, 2010

Barbados National Trust Dismayed

In keeping with our ongoing concern for the preservation of the little that's left of Speightstown's rich architectural heritage, today we republish here in full a hard-hitting letter to the editor of the Barbados Advocate from the Barbados National Trust drawing attention to continuing destruction of buildings of historic and/or architectural interest in our local area and around the island :

Destruction of buildings a cause for concern


The Barbados National Trust wishes to express its dismay and considerable regret following two recent demolitions of buildings which once graced our landscape.

Carmen (Lewis Drug Mart), formerly located in Rockley, was a splendid example of early twentieth century Barbadian vernacular. It had been lovingly restored some 15 years ago and was in top shape. It was a structure of character, one of the Barbadian survivors on a strip of road now undergoing a rapid conversion to some faux approximation of a Greater Miami streetscape. The bill board depicting its proposed replacement shows a rectangular, box-like structure which can be found any where, any place. Its total lack of architectural credibility does nothing to justify the demolition of Carmen and more importantly, nothing to contribute to our national identity and national pride.

In Speightstown, which has so much potential for development as a late 18th century port town, the building fabric is being slowly but surely eroded. The latest victim of this ongoing and shortsighted philistinism is the destruction of what was arguably one of the best examples of a Georgian townhouse to be found in Speightstown. This structure, previously located on Church Street, was allowed to fall into disrepair but was still salvageable. It contributed to the charm of Speightstown and like Beauty and the Beast, contrasted sharply with the tasteless, modern structure on its left. Today, it is a gravelled parking lot.

The Barbados National Trust stands firm against the bland homogenization which is replacing originality and those who seem bent on destroying any and everything which stamps us as different and unique. To this end, we have been working closely with Town & Country Planning, architects and owners to insure that developments at historic sites proceed in a manner acceptable to all involved. We invite all who have questions or concerns regarding their historic properties, their status within the law and their options for development to contact the Trust at our Wildey headquarters where we will be happy to assist.

Without this type of commitment, we are destined to lose our once vaunted leadership role in the Caribbean in the area of conservation and preservation. It is not in our culture to renounce our position as shepherd and revert to being one of the faceless bleating sheep in an anonymous flock.

The costs associated with any such voluntary renunciation of leadership will be high. There are the psychological costs associated with a loss of identity and a lack of social and ethical standards. There are also economic costs, as we deliberately grind away our uniqueness that brands us as Barbadian, a distinctive place, a place of value, one worth visiting. There are no appreciable long-term benefits to Barbados morphing into the Costa del Sol or Miami. Quite the contrary. There are serious long-term economic losses and costs associated with our head-long rush to abandon the structures of our past and replace them with dubious architectural concoctions of little merit. Tourism is highly competitive and there must be some lesson to be learned from the fact that our competitors in the Caribbean and elsewhere are busily engaged in conserving and retaining their past, whereas we are hell bent on throwing out the baby with the bath water.


Click here for original Barbados Advocate article.
Click here for our earlier related post - Assailants Of Our Heritage

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1 comment:

  1. Sam lords is the same-an iconic building that has just been left to fall into disrepair.the government and developers need to get their heads together to stop the neglect and destruction of important buildings on the civilised country to my mind lets its heritage and history fall by the wayside like this.