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National Trust: Save historic houses, Mille Fleurs is ‘eyesore’

By SEAN DOUGLAS Sunday, February 16 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Anneliese Pedro and Hetty de Gannes discuss 'Bull Ceramic 1966'. The piece was displayed at the Central Bank's Money Foyer on Thursday in the remembra...
Anneliese Pedro and Hetty de Gannes discuss 'Bull Ceramic 1966'. The piece was displayed at the Central Bank's Money Foyer on Thursday in the remembra...

Officials of the National Trust have dubbed historic house, Mille Fleurs, an “eyesore” as they lamented State inaction to save a slew of national architectural treasures.

A statement by Trust head, Dr Kumar Mahabir, also expressed great concern about a lack of restorative work on The Red House, President’s House, Stollmeyer’s Castle and Whitehall.

“The Council of the National Trust is greatly concerned about the apparent lack of progress being achieved by relevant institutions regarding restoration works to be carried out on some of this country’s national architectural treasures,” said the statement. The Trust highlighted concerns about Mille Fleurs, one of the Magnificent Seven around Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

“The condition of this national heritage property has become critical, to the extent where the building is now in imminent danger of collapsing unless immediate steps are taken to arrest the situation,” lamented the Trust.

“The Trust views with horror the continuing dilapidation of this heritage property. Mille Fleurs has decayed to the point of being described as a ‘public eyesore’ and urgent remedial action is needed to prevent a recurrence of a situation which occurred when another historic property, President’s House, collapsed a few years ago.” This intervention is needed to avert the embarrassment to the Government and people of this country should this building collapse, said the Trust.

The Trust has requested the Ministry of Works to seek a status report from the Projects Manager at Udecott on the state of these projects.

Mille Fleurs was built by renowned builder/architect, George Brown, in 1904, as a gift for Dr Enrique Prada (who went on to become Mayor of Port-of-Spain from 1914 to 1917) from his wife who bestowed the name on the structure. It was subsequently owned by Joseph Salvatori, then George Matouk, and then the Government which used it for the Carifesta V headquarters in 1991. In 1988 it was listed as a Monument of the Greater Caribbean by the organisatyion of American States (OAS). The Trust has listed Mille Fleurs as a “grade one” building under the National Trust Act, meaning no change must be made to it.

The Trust lamented the “advanced stage of deterioration” of Mille Fleurs. “It is therefore imperative that urgent action be taken to return this national treasure to its former glory.”

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