The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago (National Trust) is very concerned about the continued deterioration of one of the Nation’s Landmarks – the Lion House in Chaguanas. This 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 this 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.
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. It was a meeting place for many travelers from all over Trinidad who were passing through Chaguanas and an early community centre for the residents of Chaguanas and surrounding areas. Get more information about The Lion House.
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 which may be available to enable its restoration. The National Trust is 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 provide any expert advice and guidance so that the restoration can be done in an authentic manner. Ensuring that the built and natural heritage of our country is preserved for future generations to understand our history is a core mandate of the National Trust. The Lion House is an important part of this national legacy.
The Trust respects that as a private property, the final decision on the future of Lion House lies with its owners, however given the concern expressed by so many citizens about the iconic Lion House and its rich history, we are hopeful that a way forward can be found to restore this beautiful property and the pride that it inspires in the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Statement by the National Trust of Trinidad & Tobago
Who is the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago?
- The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago is an NGO of a semi-governmental nature, fully membership based and created to provide for the legal protection of designated properties – built or natural, which are considered important to the history and character of Trinidad and Tobago.
- The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago was established by Act 11 of 1991 and amended by Act No 31 of 1999.
- It has a complement of 15 to 20 full time staff and is led by a Council comprising 5 members of the Trust that are elected by the membership and 6 individuals appointed by the Minister of Planning and Development. All Council members have a maximum of three-year terms but can be reappointed or reelected.
- The Trust is established for the purpose of:
- Identifying built and natural properties and sites of interest
- Formally listing properties and sites important to our national heritage
- Making provision for access to and enjoyment of properties of interest by the public
- Encouraging research into and acquiring records of properties of interest and historical artefacts
- Conducting education and awareness campaigns to ensure general acceptance of the rich and diverse heritage of Trinidad and Tobago
For further information, please contact:
Business Development and Marketing Coordinator
The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago