SVG National Trust unveils plaque at the Carnegie Building
July 19, 2011
SVG National Trust unveils plaque at the Carnegie Building

The SVG National Trust has unveiled a plaque at the Carnegie Building, declaring its ‘protected heritage’ status, as part of its thrust to restore historical Kingstown.{{more}}

On Monday, July 18, Norma Keizer (a former executive member of the Trust) did the honour of unveiling the plaque at the site fondly known as the Old Public Library.

Chairperson of the National Trust Louise Mitchell-Joseph said: “This building has been at the centre of the intellectual and cultural life of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for over 100 years… a historical indicator of the road travelled.”

Mitchell-Joseph explained that any signage that was not in the original design of the building has been removed; and new signs relating to the Trust or Alliance Francaise will be erected separately from the building.

“Sometimes, in recognising our history, we have to peel off the layers of modernity,” she asserted.

In 2009, the Carnegie building was the first to be declared ‘protected’, under the SVG National Trust (Amendment) Act 2007. It was built in the early 1900s at a cost of £2,000 – donated by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Mitchell-Joseph said that the Trust’s next project in this ‘Save Historical Kingstown’ campaign will be the restoration of the Court House grounds.

“I’m going to be calling on all the members of the legal profession to give financial support to this process,” she said.

She also shared that she has Heritage Square, located on South River Road, in her sights for a “total transformation”.

“The status of Heritage Square right now is the antithesis of the word ‘heritage’,” she opined.

Rene Baptiste, former Minister of Culture, also addressed the small audience at the unveiling.

She commended the Trust’s efforts to restore the historical sites of Kingstown to their former glory; and in so doing, educate the public about their historical relevance.

Chairperson of the unveiling ceremony Descima Hamilton lamented the fact that too many Vincentian youth know very little about local culture and history.

“In order to preserve our heritage, we have to begin with teaching the young,” said Hamilton.

Other protected sites and buildings include St. George’s Cathedral, the Central Police Headquarters, the Court House and Parliament Building, the Botanical Garden, Peace Memorial Hall and Fort Charlotte – among others.

Eli Francis, Director of Social Development, spoke on behalf of the Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, the Family, Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Sports and Culture.

He explained that the ministry allocates $20,000 of its budget to the National Trust.

“The government has placed culture and the preservation of our cultural heritage at the forefront of national development,” he announced.

Other invited persons included Venezuelan Ambassador His Excellency Yoel Perez Marcano, Taiwanese Ambassador His Excellency Weber Shih, and Rachel Moses, general manager of the National Trust.