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HEATHER-LYNN’S HABITAT: Call to restore 1850s building

Heather-Lynn Evanson, [email protected]

HEATHER-LYNN’S HABITAT: Call to restore 1850s building

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IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW it was an 1850s listed building when you pass the now nondescript-looking property opposite Sugarcane Mall on Roebuck Street, then you probably would never realise it.

But one of the vocal people on heritage and conservation, Peter Stevens, is adamant that it can be restored and saved.

What was called the Defreitas Shop dates back to the mid-19th century and was one of the few remaining buildings to exhibit the traditional five-door front façade.

However, the owners of the building removed the traditional hipped roofs last September, before removing the doors, bricking up three of them, and replacing the remaining two with modern glass doors. The stone work was stripped and then plastered over.

“Basically, the original building has been completely obliterated [but] it’s there,” Stevens said.

He said the Barbados National Trust had received no request to change the building, but insisted that the building could be restored.

“It’s not like the building has been destroyed even though a lot of things have been destroyed – like all the original doors,” he said.

“Unless they have been kept somewhere in the back I will have to assume they are lost. They would all have to be replicated. The plaster that was on it may have been replacement plaster anyway but it was unnecessary to remove it.

“And specifically how it was decorated, we now have to use photographs to restore it. But the building can be restored but it has been significantly damaged and that always hurts authenticity.”

Stevens said even if the building had to be “re-skinned”, the structure was still historically sound.

President of the Barbados National Trust, Dr Karl Watson, said photographs of the construction work in progress were sent to the authorities but the Trust was still awaiting a response.

“It’s indescribable,” he declared.

Heather-Lynn’s Habitat spoke briefly to Deputy Chief Town Planner George Browne, who said he was in a meeting and promised to return the call but had not done so up to the time of publication. Efforts to reach Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins were unsuccessful.