Published On: Sun, Dec 6th, 2020

Invest in monuments

Government should invest in monuments. It is the perfect investment for Country Sint Maarten. Monuments were back front and center in last week’s Parliament’s meeting when Minister of Culture, Drs. Rodolphe E. Samuel gave a presentation about the state of the recognized monuments on St. Maarten.

Investing in the preservation of monuments not only makes sense from a historical and cultural heritage perspective, but it also makes excellent financial and economic sense.

When government do purchase these properties and designate them as monuments, they are immediately valuable financial assets of the country. They also have significant economic value.

Tour operators can organize tours to these properties. Government can require every visitor to pay an entrance fee to tour the property. That money can go towards the upkeep of the monument itself. We know our Sint Maarten government likes to build but hardly ever does any maintenance or even plan for it. Good thing there is a Monument Council and hopefully soon a Monument Fund, as announced last week in Parliament by the Minister of Culture, Drs. Rodolphe Samuel.

Recently self-declared Independent Member of Parliament, Christophe Emmanuel, questioned Minister Samuel in Parliament during his presentation about the monuments on St. Maarten and, in particular, the Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House, which is soon to be put on the auction block. The former NA MP is of the opinion that government should do something about this.

Related article: MP Emmanuel: A “crying shame” if monument Pasanggrahan is sold

Architect and Project Development Consultant Achken Roberto Richardson, experienced in physical planning and affordable housing, also believes that the Government of Sint Maarten – or even the Dutch Government – should purchase Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House to maintain it as a monument.
“All they have to do is bring in restoration designers to take pictures of every detail of the existing building. Then demolish it and rebuild the ground floor of a new complex as a replica of the old Passanggrahan Royal Guest House with multiple levels of rooms for hotel use.” Richardson wrote to StMaartenNews.com in an invited comment.

At one point in his career, Richardson worked for the Government of Sint Maarten as a planning officer for the Dutch and European Development Aid funding agency.

“The Netherlands should reserve a special monuments fund for purchase and restoration of these buildings.” continued Richardson. “The Monument Council should form a think tank and they should approach the owners of typical gingerbread-style homes for recognition as monuments.”

According to Richardson, sometimes, when driving through districts after a hurricane, you notice that these old hip roof homes are still standing while the new type 15 degrees sloped roofs are blown away.

We agree with Richardson that there is much historical, cultural and educational value in our island’s heritage, design styles and structural methods of building homes back in the day. These should be preserved for future generations to see and explore.

So, let’s start with the Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House. That property needs rescuing and needs it fast.

Credit: Photos of Pasanggrahan Royal Guest House, bar & restaurant and hotel rooms section taken by Jacqueline Hooftman.

Related articles:
Monument Fund is almost there
How to preserve our monuments historical heritage
MP Emmanuel: A “crying shame” if monument Pasanggrahan is sold
The reason why certain roofs survived hurricane Irma
Examples of Gingerbread homes in the Caribbean