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‘History’ falling apart

Heather-Lynn Evanson

‘History’ falling apart

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IT’S ONE of the more aesthetically pleasing historic houses on Upper Bay Street with its distinctive awnings, its wooden fret work and iron railings, but it’s beginning to fall apart.
And the owner Vashti Hinds is appealing for help before more of the decades-old home hits the ground.
The property, Clifton, at No 1, Clifton Terrace, Bay Street, St Michael, is on the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest within the area of Bridgetown and its historic Garrison.
It is located obliquely opposite the Yacht Club and is four properties away from the entrance to Chelsea Road.
But on Monday, a piece of the roof in the verandah fell, prompting Hinds to make a national plea for help with the restoration of the property.
Hinds, who is in her 70s and who has lived in Bay Street since the early 1980s, said she bought the house in 2000.
Her husband, she added, was now “incapacitated” and she looked after him.
“Right now we are unable to manage and it’s deteriorating very badly. I was calling around to see if I could get some assistance with having it repaired and so far I was not successful,” she explained, adding she lived next door to the property.
Hinds admitted she did not know the actual age of the house, but had been told it was over 100 years.
An apartment at the rear is rented but the ground and first level of the main house were empty, she said.
She said the house had previously been inspected and plans were supposed to have been submitted to Town and Country Planning, but she had heard nothing about it.
“We can’t handle it anymore,” she confessed.
Hinds’ plight has highlighted the problems faced by homeowners of historic properties, some of whom struggle to maintain the buildings.
It was earlier this year that another architecturally-pleasing wooden house, this one at the entrance to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in Christ Church, also fell into a state of disrepair with an entire side collapsing.
But owner and managing director of NOMIS Ltd, Simon Coles, said maintenance and restoration could be done to such buildings once a budget had been established.
“You can get it done, it just takes a little bit longer so it’s a little more expensive,” Coles admitted, whose company is now restoring the historic Mottley House on Coleridge Street, The City.
“But sometimes it can be cheaper to restore than it is to rebuild from scratch. Sometimes there are still savings to be made with the structure you are preparing,” he told the Midweek Nation.
In addition, he stressed there was no lack of artisans to repair the intricate fretwork associated with such buildings.
“I have found a lot of tradesmen in Barbados who can do that work,” he said, adding there was no need to look overseas for such skilled workers.
“It’s always a mixed bag with tradesmen. Here you’re looking at Bajans, you’re looking at Guyanese, you’re looking at Vincentians, St Lucians. It’s always a mixture of guys who are looking for work and they are skilled tradesmen.”
In addition, because of the slowdown in the construction industry, those tradesmen and craftspeople were more available now than before, he said.

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