Little is known to the general public about the picturesque old house at the corner of Lord and Paradise Streets in San Fernando. But as some of its structures come down, the Greater San Fernando Area Chamber of Commerce is appealing for its preservation.
Chamber president Kiran Singh told Guardian Media that the house, which features 18th-century Gingerbread and Victorian architecture, neighbours St Joseph’s Convent, St Gabriel’s Girls’ RC School and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, to name a few of the city’s historical landmarks.
When Singh and San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello visited the house on Friday, parts of the roof were missing along with doors and windows. The chamber is now lobbying to stop the demolition.
“From a Chamber of Commerce perspective, the bottom line is money, profits. That is what we hear from the general public, from the community. But what we must remember is that we also have a social responsibility, a humanitarian responsibility and an architectural responsibility to the city that we represent,” Singh said.
“This structure represents old San Fernando, the original development. You will not see a house like this for generations and miles. It was a landmark in the city of San Fernando and it sits next to St Joseph’s Convent, the church is across the road.
“We are right next to the Harris Promenade in San Fernando, so it certainly is a landmark that we want to preserve. The Chamber of Commerce stands ready to support the initiative of preserving this site, which should be on a heritage portfolio.”
With many of the old architecture replaced with modern buildings, Singh said the house is one of a few reminders of San Fernando 100 years ago. Although work began, he said that with proper engineering, restoration is possible.
Acknowledging the historical value, Regrello said he would also like the house to be restored and preserved. From his information, he said a company purchased the property and last year proposed to construct a multi-story car park, a plan that he does not object to.
“The information I have, as it advances in this state of demolition, is that a private company acquired this property. I do not have all the details but they acquired it and it seems to be above board from what I saw. They are going forward with a plan. I think it is a car park. One of the options is a car park,” Regrello said.
“When you consider that hub of activity which we have here right now, where a family court will be built there, it may not be a bad venture for a car park. However, I will have to get more details because a lot of San Fernandians are concerned about this. I will like to know what is happening.”
However, he said what happens to the house remains the prerogative of the owners.