THE historic Greyfriars Church of Scotland in Port of Spain, reportedly sold recently to a private developer, is in the process of being listed by the National Trust, which will give it legal protection.
Conservationists have reacted with alarm over the news that the 19th century church might be demolished, with a social media campaign and appeal to have the State step in.
The church is located on Frederick Street.
In a news statement yesterday, the Council of the National Trust the public’s concern regarding “the sale of one of our architectural treasures”.
The National Trust stated that the church: “is one such heritage property identified on the National Inventory of Cultural and Natural Heritage as an historical site. It is also one of the sites which is in the process of being listed by law. Once listed, in accordance with Section 8 of the National Trust Act (No 11 of 1991 and Amendment No 31 of 1999) the property is deemed a heritage property and is entitled to legal protection.
According to the National Trust: “Prior to its sale the National Trust through its member and technical adviser, the Historical Restoration Unit, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, advised the Town and Country Planning Division as to how this property should be managed as one of our built heritage monuments, in keeping with conservation guidelines. The building is on the Trust inventory and is soon to be listed by law”.
Jennifer De Verteuil, whose great-great grandfather Rev George Brodie, was the second minister of the church, said the family had been given hope that the church would be preserved.
However, she said: “this whole drama must not amount to a relatively small group mourning the fact that Greyfriars’ Church of Scotland has been allowed to fall into the hands of a property developer. This involves all of us.
“It is our joint heritage and we should have arrived at the point where laws protecting historic sites are tight enough and vigorously enforced to discourage such a transaction in the first place.”
The National Trust is responsible for listing, acquiring and preserving heritage property, and advising Government on heritage issues.