Keeping a nation’s history alive is no easy task. Thankfully, many of the most iconic spots in our nation’s capital have either recently undergone repairs, or are on the brink of having their renovations completed.
First on the agenda is a stroll through Woodfood Square, which has stood in the nation’s capital since 1797. In the middle of the 20th century, the square became a gathering point for the populace, and it was here that Dr. Eric Williams, the nation’s first prime minister, would deliver illuminating lectures on leadership, constitutional reform, and the importance of good governance. One of the key features of this popular spot is a recently renovated fountain depicting the Greek goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros.
Right on the border of Woodford Square sits the Red House, the seat of parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, and a stunning example of colonial architecture. The Red House is no stranger to repairs, after having to be rebuilt after it was destroyed by a fire in the 20th century, and is a living testament to much political intrigue and turmoil. Current restoration of the building is now entering into its final stages and soon the magnificent structure will once again be opened to the public.
As you head out from the heart of downtown and move towards the stunning Queen’s Park Savannah, you will be able to witness the Magnificent Seven, a collection of unique and dramatic colonial style buildings which line the western side of the park. Among these, two have recently undergone extensive renovations, restoring them to their former glory and ensuing their lasting place in our nation’s built heritage. The oldest of the bunch is Castle Killarney, formerly known as Stollmeyer’s Castle, a historic house said to be modeled after a wing of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeen, Scotland. The magnificent structure was partly crafted from blue limestone found in the hills of Laventille, Trinidad, and many skilled local labourers, also from Laventille, were employed in the construction of the building. Although closed for many years, this unique building now often opens its doors to the public for tours and viewings, and is also host to numerous events, film viewings, and art and cultural exhibitions.
Right next to the castle, stands Whitehall, built over a century ago by Joseph Leon Agostini. The building, which was inspired by architectural styles popular on the island of Corsica, has served many purposes throughout its lifetime including office to the nation’s first prime minister, as well as a military base for the United States Army during World War II. Originally named Rosenweg meaning ‘the way of the roses’ for the soft pink wash used to colour the exterior, it was eventually renamed Whitehall, owing to the brilliant white imported Bajan limestone from which its walls are built. There are those who say that the ghost of Leon Agostini still haunts the building, mourning the loss of his mansion, and that his spirit can be seen at night, wandering around the large wrap-around verandah encircling most of Whitehall. As of August, 2019, after a hiatus of ten years, the Office of the Prime Minister was once again moved to this spectacular building.
All that is needed to view these important sites is a few hours of your time, and a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Feel free to end your tour with a refreshing ice cold coconut, readily available at the Savannah.