President of the Barbados National Trust Peter Stevens affixing the plaque to Arlington House. (Picture by Heather-Lynn Evanson.)
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Arlington House has its plaque.
The familiar blue and white Barbados National Trust plaque, denoting the 18th century, three-storeyed building as of historic and architectural interest, was affixed to the Speightstown, St Peter structure after a ceremony held last Saturday.
President of the Trust, Peter Stevens, who spoke at the ceremony, described the building as “one of those jewels” which was restored in a ten-year period.
He revealed that bigger things were in store for the former ship chandlery and residence.
“We want to make sure that we see that Arlington House goes forward and remains progressive,” Stevens told the specially invited guests.
“So I think what we are going to see, over the next couple of years, is exactly what is happening here, and the museum as it exists exactly right now will grow and become much more open to the community,” he predicted. “It will be more welcoming, more people will be able to come in; it will be more casually usable.”
He noted the proposed feature would hark back to the building’s former days, when the ground floor level functioned as a shop, with the owners residing on the upper floors.
“I think what we really need to do is try and get back to something like that, when downstairs is much more usable for a broader range of interests.”
But, said Stevens, the successful future of Arlington House was inextricably linked to the success of Speightstown.
“We really want to make sure Arlington House becomes a feature in Speightstown and actually services the town and is not just something which is hidden away.
“It does feel like Speightstown is on the cusp of a wave right now. And I have said it before, the National Trust here in Speightstown is not solely interested in what happens at Arlington House. We are interested in that the entire town benefits from the development. Arlington House will only succeed, ultimately, if the rest of Speightstown succeeds. That is our view,” the president declared.
Trust general manager Miguel Pena said the ceremony was also to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Arlington House as an interactive museum.
He revealed the house, constructed in English medieval style, was acquired by the Government of the day and turned into a health clinic.
It was threatened with demolition until the National Trust intervened in early 2000s and convinced the powers that be to save it.
Site manager Edwin Sampson led the guests on a quick tour of the property after, regaling them with the history of the house and Speightstown as well. (HLE)