looking bad for Greyfriars

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from today’s Trinidad Guardian  (copyright)

Businessman Alfred Galy applied to the Port-of-Spain City Corporation yesterday for a demolition notice for the former Greyfriars church on Frederick Street.
This comes a week after the corporation ordered work on the site stopped after Galy’s workmen removed the roof of the church hall and part of the roof of the church itself.
Fears that Galy was demolishing the building led to protests last week from the NGO Citizens for Conservation, and National Diversity Minister Rodger Samuel said the deconsecrated church would soon be listed as a protected historic building.

But in an interview yesterday, chief inspector at the city engineer’s office Deoraj Ramtahal confirmed Galy had submitted a demolition application to his office. He added that Galy had also met with the corporation yesterday to discuss ways to save the property by converting it into a suitable business.
“He submitted the application in order to comply with the corporation’s regulations,” Ramtahal said.
Galy is expected to meet with Ramtahal and members of Town and Country Planning at the Ministry of Finance today.

Yesterday, the site remained quiet, with no signs of workers.
In a letter to the editor in today’s T&T Guardian, historian Michael Anthony, appealing for the church to be preserved, recorded that it was founded by the Rev Alexander Kennedy of the Church of Scotland, a man he described as the most dynamic and zealous of local missionaries. Anthony said Kennedy came to T&T in 1836 and converted an unused building on Cambridge Street (then part of St Vincent Street) into a little chapel, then began building his own church the next year. Kennedy was an ardent abolitionist. (See letter on p25)

A petition calling for the preservation of the property and addressed to the Town and Country Planning Division had gathered over 600 online signatures as of yesterday. The petition, started by concerned citizen Joshua Lue Chee Kong, expresses concern over the potential demolition of the church, and says it should be preserved at all costs to benefit future generations.
“Therefore we wish with all the power granted by your office, that this matter be resolved immediately and that the church gains the necessary protection it deserves as a heritage site as quickly as possible,” it reads.

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1 Comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

One response to “looking bad for Greyfriars

  1. Kalifa Clyne
    Published:
    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    National Diversity Minister Rodger Samuel says he has not yet received any proposals relating to the future of the historic Greyfriars Church, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.

    He said if the owner of the property, Alfred Galy, had any proposals to do with the sale or lease of the building, it was the owner’s responsibility to inform the ministry.

    Samuel, in a phone interview yesterday, said his ministry was working on saving the building and had contacted the owner to state its intent of making a Greyfriars an historic site.

    The rest of the process includes having professionals compile a dossier on the sit e, a legal process, then publishing the information for public perusal. “Few people in Trinidad are trained in preparing dossiers and it is a tedious process,” said Samuel.

    He believed the issues were being worked out with the owner in good faith.

    Samuel also said he had received a petition with 2,000 signatures calling on him to ensure the church was saved. “I was surprised at the amount. We might not have recognised that so many people were interested in this country’s history,” he added.

    Earlier this month a contractor removed the roof of the church hall in what appeared to be the start of demolition.

    Galy later said a health and safety assessment of the property was being done and the roof was removed because it was filled with asbestos.

    The city corporation ordered Galy to stop work and he has since applied for the required demolition notice.

    Chief inspector in the city engineer’s office, Deoraj Ramtahal, said yesterday the notice was on hold as the corporation was in discussions with Galy and the Town and Country Planning Division.

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