first major publication: The cover of the book titled The Built Heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. —Image courtesy Heather-Dawn Herrera

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'Built Heritage' from the National Trust

By Trail Blazing with Heather-Dawn Herrera

The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago has produced an exclusive collector's item in celebration of this country's 50th Anniversary of Independence. The book titled The Built Heritage of Trinidad and Tobago encapsulates 50 sites of historic importance.

Forty of these sites are in Trinidad and ten in Tobago. Sites include those of the early European settlers such as churches, forts and estate houses as well as religious and cultural sites of later centuries.

This is the first major publication of the Trust. When Vel Lewis, Chairman of the National Trust Council tabled the idea of producing publications that would feature fifty heritage sites across the country each at a monthly meeting, this was the start of putting forward the best that the Trust had to offer.

His idea came at a time when landmark historic buildings were being defaced or demolished to make way for 20 first century styled constructions. Some of the buildings that still grace our landscape suffer neglect and disrepair.

As a result, the National Trust has embarked on an awareness campaign, part of which is embodied in this first publication.

Information and photos compiled in the publication were sourced from Geoffrey MacLean, architect, director of MacLean Art and MacLean Publishing Limited and a member of the National Trust.

Production of the publication was placed squarely in the hands of MacLean. Having been active in the promotion and publication of works related to historic and contemporary art and architecture in Trinidad and Tobago, MacLean's research and years of archiving the history of heritage buildings have resulted in an invaluable contribution to our country.

MacLean is the leading authority on Michel Cazabon, Trinidad's great 19th century artist and national hero. MacLean also has a long list of historical and artistic publications to his name. Humble as he is, MacLean has accredited these works to the many years of collaboration among many voices.

Information about each of the 50 sites includes references to the life and times of the occupants of these sites, details of the architecture, the actual type of material used in construction and much more. Each feature represents the diverse cultures of key towns and villages across Trinidad and Tobago

The Built Heritage of Trinidad and Tobago is a production that can best be described as priceless. This is one of the projects of the National Trust that is aimed at educating contemporary society especially the younger generation in an appreciation of the history of our twin island state and instilling a sense of national pride in our built heritage legacy.

The good news is that the Ministry of Education has recognised the importance of this publication and has spontaneously ordered a quota for schools and libraries across Trinidad and Tobago.

The Trust is now planning production of a sister publication and documentary carded to be launched at the end of the next quarter.

The Honourable Clifton De Coteau, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration promises a series of landmark programmes and projects that would bring this country into heritage conservation mode.

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