THE Government has invited Cubans with expertise in restoring historic buildings to help with the work being done on this country’s heritage sites.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced this last Wednesday during his address at the handover of Stollmeyer’s Castle to the Ministry of Community Development.
Rowley said the Cubans had been asked to help with work at the Red House, which he expected to be finished on time and within its $441 million budget.
On Stollmeyer’s, Rowley said he was confident a day would come when all the treasures of this nation would be restored for the people.
“I anxiously await the completion of the Red House, which I was told is on time and within budget and I am confident that work will commence at President’s House this year.
“President’s House is not about who lives there but about the people of T&T. Some time in the middle of next year, the President’s House will be where this building is, restored.”
Asked about the use of Cubans, Urban Development Corporation of TT chairman Noel Garcia said the TT Government had asked the Cuban Government for help in the repair of Mille Fleurs, in addition to the Red House, because it was very dilapidated.
Mille Fleurs was in such disrepair in February 2016 that Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said, during a tour of the site, it was likely to be demolished.
Two years later, Garcia said Government had not yet provided an allocation to restore the building, but estimated it might cost close to $10 million.
“We have an allocation of $10 million for President’s House and a $47 million allocation for this financial year. We have an allocation of $200 million for this financial year for the Red House and I anticipate we would complete that project during the next financial year, which will be in December 2018.”
Garcia said the final phase of the Stollmeyer’s Castle restoration costs about $16 million.
Stollmeyer’s Castle, also called Killarney, is one of Port of Spain’s most popular architectural treasures along Queen’s Park West, known as the Magnificent Seven.
The most recent restoration work on Killarney, built in 1902 and acquired by the State in 1979, began in 2009.
The architectural work was done by Bernard McKay and supervised by conservation architect Rudylyn Roberts.