A financial estimate for the restoration of State-owned historic buildings is being prepared for Finance Minister Larry Howai to consider for the 2013-2014 national budget.
In his final speech as President on Sunday, George Maxwell Richards called on citizens to rally support for the restoration of President's House and other historical landmarks in Trinidad and Tobago.
National Trust chairman Vel Lewis, in an e-mailed response to questions from the Express yesterday, stated that although restoration works do not fall under the purview of the National Trust, a sub-committee of the Trust is currently preparing the proposals for Howai.
The Trust, he stated, recognises that the actual restoration works were the business of the Ministry of Works but believes this would support the Works Minister's case for funding for historic preservation in light of other demands on the national budget.
Lewis stated the Trust has already decided that historic buildings in Port of Spain, such as President's House and the Magnificent Seven around the Queen's Park Savannah, must be preserved for current and future generations and were part of the country's "tourism plant".
He said the Trust has already documented these in its inventory of heritage properties and in a book on 50 sites, as well as in individual dossiers, and has gazetted its intention to have them listed.
Lewis stated that four of the buildings that are of particular concern to the Trust in this regard are Mille Fleurs, Whitehall, President's House and the Red House, due to their cultural significance and their current state of deterioration.
He stated further the Trust wrote to Works Minister Emmanuel George seeking that stabilisation be carried out on those in the most serious state of deterioration and restoration works be speeded up.
This is to prevent further deterioration and also enable the buildings to be put to adaptive re-use.
The Trust, he added, proposes to make arrangements for public access to these historic buildings once restoration works have been completed.
Historian Bridget Brereton, speaking to the Express by telephone yesterday, said of the neglect of these historical sites, "In my view, this is really an indictment on successive governments and indeed on the nation."
Brereton said it was good to know the outgoing President associated himself with the many citizens who have been calling for the preservation of historic buildings.
"The Magnificent Seven are only the most famous, but there are many other interesting historic buildings all over the country, not all of them are rich people's mansions as the Magnificent Seven originally were, but some are more humble or middle-class houses and small churches, mandirs or mosques," said Brereton.
"I am very pleased that the outgoing President made those remarks, but I wish he had made them long before the day he left office," said Brereton.