City Hall to Launch Restoration fund
His Worship the Mayor of Georgetown Ubraj Narine will lead a Special Committee to assist in the setting up and management of Trust Fund for the restoration of the City Hall Building. The team will comprise three officers, six Councillors and other stakeholders representing the business community and civil society.
The Officers on the team are; City Treasurer (ag), John Douglas, Deputy Town Clerk (ag) Sherry Jerrick, Deputy City Engineer Kenson Boston. The Councillors’ include; Deputy Mayor Alfred Mentore, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke, Chairperson of the City Works Committee, Eketa Edwards, Councillors Dione Younge and Michael Leonard.
Deputy Mayor Mentore noted that City Hall is a landmark and it is important that the Council stems the decay urgently. Chairman of the Finance Committee Oscar Clarke noted that this issue has attracted the attention of many persons; including the National Trust of Guyana, European Union UNESCO. It is important that Council advance the process to preserve the building since the report prepared by the Engineers suggests that the building is still somewhat structurally sound
About City Hall
City Hall building is described as “Victorian Exuberance in Timber” as and by others as “the most handsome building in Georgetown.” It was designed by Father Ignatius Scoles S.J., a trained architect.
Father Scoles had entered a competition to design City Hall and won the prize of $50. The building is an interpretation in wood, of the masonry construction “fancy dress” style Gothic Revival Architecture which was very prevalent during the Victorian era in Great Britain. The foundation stone was laid by Governor Sir Henry Turner Irving, on December 23rd, 1887 and the building was officially opened on July 1, 1889, by Lord Gormanston.
The erection of a Town Hall was proposed on several occasions in the nineteenth century, but the Council lacked the financial resources. However, in 1871, it was proposed that the Hall be built in front of the market (the previous Stabroek Market building) but another site was being sought at Church and Main Street, where the National Library now stands. The site finally chosen was acquired from Mr. George Anderson Forshaw, who served as Mayor of Georgetown more than once. At that time a “tumble down coffee logie” used for dances stood on the site. The periodic finds of old beer bottles from that era lend credence to this legend.
The tower is one of the main attractions of the building. Rising to a fourth floor, there are conical pinnacles at the upper corners. This is decorated by four imaginary corned suspend supports. It is capped by a square pyramidal flat-topped spire. This Tower was probably intended as a lookout. A climb to the top via steep ladders is an adventure. Evidence of such a climb is abundant in the many initials and dates carved into the timber at different heights.
The hammer-beam roof construction employed is typical of the medieval Gothic building in Britain (e.g. Westminster Hall 1394-1406) in London. It gives City Hall, In this case, a ceiling with three arches. The resultant complex of curves in different planes, break up the sound paths and allow for better acoustics in the hall.
The high mahogany covered ceilings, long Demerara windows and shutters combine to, exude an air of freedom and yet of an intensely formal old-world elegance. It seduces and subtly draws and transforms you as part of its hushed classical ambience. Even the entrance to this third floor offers a drama of its own, by way of the stairway that on its way up, offers a first glimpse and then a fuller view of the beautiful mahogany ceiling.
Currently, the City hall building houses the staff of the City Treasure’s and Town Clerk’s Department. Recently, the Council decided that the staff of both Departments should be relocated because of the state of the Building.
Debra Lewis, Public Relations Officer