The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago (National Trust) said it very concerned about the continued deterioration of one of the Nation’s Landmarks – the Lion House in Chaguanas.
It said the building is on the Heritage Asset Inventory of the National Trust, which identifies sites that are worthy of national recognition and preservation.
In a statement of March 2019, the National Trust indicated that the property is privately owned and this means that legal permission is required for any other organization or individual to restore it.
It also means that the National Trust requires formal permission to access the property to create a dossier on the building, which is one of the prerequisites to Listing as a Property of Interest.
In 1991 the property came under the principal control of attorney Surendranath Capildeo, grandson of Pundit Capildeo.
Surendranath made two attempts to restore the building between 1991-1993 and then again in 1995.
It is reported that the firm Colin Laird and Associates was retained to advise and supervise the project which had been contracted to EWAC & Co. Limited with Mr. Glen Espinet in charge of restoration.
However, the restoration was incomplete and since then the building has relapsed and deterioration continues.
The National Trust has once again reached out to the owners of the property to discuss options that may be available to enable its restoration.
It is also confident that there are patriotic members of the national community and international diaspora who, with the support of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, would come forward to assist in restoring the house.
The National Trust is committed to providing any expert advice and guidance so that the restoration can be done in an authentic manner.
The Trust said that the Lion House is the only building of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
“It was designed, and constructed by the late Pundit Capildeo, between 1924-1926 and is the standing memorial to the indentured Indian immigrants, 120,000 of whom came to Trinidad between 1845 and 1917.”
It was called Anand Bhavan or the Mansion of Bliss and has been many things to many people in its early history, such as being a meeting place for many travelers from all over Trinidad who were passing through Chaguanas.
It also served as an early community centre for the residents of Chaguanas and surrounding areas.
The Trust respects that, as a private property, the final decision on the future of Lion House lies with its owners, given the concern expressed by so many citizens about the iconic Lion House and its rich history, they are hopeful that a way forward can be found to restore the beautiful property and the pride that it inspires in the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Further information on the Lion House can be found on the National Trust’s website: https://nationaltrust.tt/location/the-lion-house/