June 25, 2017

Lost gems of our built heritage

Time changes everything, and some things are forgotten, some remembered, and new memories made. This week, Times Heritage looks back at Guyanese historical architecture, decayed by neglect, dismantled to make way for modern development, or tragically destroyed and now lost to the passage of time.

Sacred Heart Church

Sacred Heart Church in 2004 before it was completely destroyed by fire. In 2015, a rebuilt Sacred Heart Church was officially opened to the public

In 1860, the construction of the Sacred Heart Church commenced to accommodate the vast numbers of Roman Catholics in British Guiana. Once designed in a rectangular shape, the original building measured 30.5m x 9.1m. An eastern façade, which became the main façade, was designed by architect Cesar Castellani and erected in 1872. This church, once situated on Main Street, Georgetown, was destroyed by fire in 2004.

Park Hotel

The Park Hotel was built during the 1900s and was owned by the Kissoon family. Its colonial architecture, evident in the use of timber, Demerara shutters and its veranda, was common at that time. Once located in Main Street in the heart of the city of Georgetown, this landmark hotel was destroyed by fire in May 2000.

Park Hotel, circa 1900s

St. Barnabas Church

The Anglican Church of St. Barnabas, where it once stood at Regent Street and Orange Walk, Bourda, opened as a rather small building in 1884. It was consecrated in 1938. The St. Barnabas Church with its flying buttresses and massive towers was sold and later demolished in 2011.

Guyana’s historical architecture, indigenous languages and various customs and cultures of our diverse ethnicities are just as susceptible to time since they all need to be maintained or remembered in order to survive over time. Looking back at sites, places and cultures past, whether recently or long ago, could be either a nostalgic experience or a deliberate rejection of a long ago ideal or way of life.

The St. Barnabas’ Church before it was demolished in 2011 (Photo by Amanda Richards)

New Amsterdam Hospital

The old New Amsterdam Hospital, once located in Region Six, Berbice, in the town of New Amsterdam, was one of Guyana’s outstanding historical buildings. It was built in 1844 and designed by renowned architect Cesar Castellani, and described as a “timber architectural masterpiece”. The building was declared unfit to function as the primary hospital of the region and it was left abandoned where it collapsed over time due to constant vandalism and deterioration.

Remains of the old New Amsterdam Hospital (Photo was taken in 2010 by Amanda Richards)