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Monday 21 January 2019
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Hope for heritage street signs

Conservationists hope this stone sign set into the walls of the Ansa McAl building in Port of Spain, which is being demolished, can be preserved because of its historical value to the nation. Photo by Sureash Cholai
Conservationists hope this stone sign set into the walls of the Ansa McAl building in Port of Spain, which is being demolished, can be preserved because of its historical value to the nation. Photo by Sureash Cholai

HOPES remain high that historical features of the Ansa McAl building on Abercromby Street and Independence Square in Port of Spain will be preserved.

Expressing these hopes yesterday were Citizens for Conservation TT president Rudylynn Roberts and architect Geoffrey MacLean. The building was damaged by fire on February 22, 2017. The Social Development Ministry and other businesses formerly occupied this building.

Demolition work is ongoing. A portion of Chacon Street near Nicholas Towers has been blocked off and caution barriers placed along a section of Independence Square in front of the building. A significant part of the middle of the building has already been demolished, and workers were seen clearing rubble at the rear.

A pair of 19th-century signs for Abercromby Street and King Street on the building remain untouched. Roberts told Newsday it would be nice to keep these signs, explaining they have a heritage value to the country. Roberts also said the building itself was reflective of a period of development and particular style of architecture in TT, though it was not the last of its kind in Port of Spain.

MacLean agreed with Roberts about the significance of the street signs and said preserving any kind of heritage item is “extremely important,” and he hoped the owners will handle this matter responsibly.

However, he said because the signs are made of stone, it may be difficult to remove them without damaging them. He had heard a conversation about removing the signs and putting them in another location, he said, but this did not make sense and the signs should remain where they are.

Officials at Ansa McAl were unable to provide any information on the demolition or preservation of the building’s historical features.

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