Official Handover of Stollmeyer’s Castle to the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts

April 12, 2018

Someone once said “A field of clay touched by the genius of man becomes a castle”

Today, we say “A block of Laventille blue limestone touched by the genius of a Laventille stone-mason becomes the Stollmeyer’s Castle.”The Stollmeyer’s Castle, Killarney was commissioned in the early twentieth century by Cocoa -baron and German émigré, Charles Fourier Stollmeyer. Many of the skilled labourers who built this house were themselves residents of Laventille. After a somewhat checkered history, and after much degradation of the original structure, it has been restored with great care and at great cost.

Its restoration and preservation by our country’s brightest and best demonstrates a recognition by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, under the leadership of our esteemed Prime Minister Rowley, of the necessity of the past, and of the things that tell its story. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to open the doors of Killarney to the public and to create a programme of activities which would position the Castle as a significant and unique venue for Art, Culture and History to local and foreign visitors alike.

John Newel Lewis in his published analysis of Killarney, encourages “an appreciation of its artistic and architectural completeness, its durability, its Trinidadian-ness”; or as we would say, Trinbagonian-ness.

In his conclusion, Newel Lewis avers that the Castle demands from us, understanding, and declares that it is a message reaching out of the past for which we need to nurture an appreciation, so that Killarney “may be safely passed on to the future.”

The restoration and adaptive re-use of historical properties, and other spaces, for the display and practice of our creative skills, will be of significant benefit in the development of our youth and in the reversal of some of the negative trends in our society.

To this end, it is proposed to develop Stollmeyer’s Castle as a premier space, which showcases and encourages the creative culture and the genius of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

The details of annual and seasonal programming will be developed according to the available budget and resources but always in accordance with the following principles:

Quality, Access, Education and Inspiration, Collaboration and Value for Money.

It is intended that high standards and international best practice will be the hallmark of the Castle and its arts programming.

Education and inspiration will be the key drivers of what we will offer here, as the Trinidad and Tobago public is given a leisure alternative that is enjoyable and uplifting, contributes to building of national pride and identity and is suitable for all age groups.

It is proposed to develop affordable activities that include opening the historic house regularly to the public, visitors to the country and children on school tours. Lectures, book launches, fashion events, readings, music recitals and concerts will be programmed on evenings and weekends according to the availability of space in the Castle. It is proposed that historical re-enactments will be developed and performed that illuminate the lifestyle and story of the Stollmeyers. Talks on the architecture of Stollmeyer’s Castle and the historical era of Cocoa as King, among other topics, will form a regular feature of the Castle’s activities.

The public will experience an outstanding example of the nation’s built heritage and will get to know and appreciate its unique architectural elements and craftsmanship, as an inspiring aspect of national patrimony and ancestral legacy.

A permanent Cazabon Exhibition of paintings and small historical exhibits will be installed on the first floor of the Castle.

In addition, a series of retrospective exhibitions, the works of celebrated Trinidad and Tobago Artists will be installed, at least three per year, on the ground floor. These exhibitions will spearhead the overall commitment to promote and inspire individual participation in the making of Art.

At the retail end, it is proposed to sell unique local craft items and products, many of which will be associated with the Castle and its stories. Printed T-shirts, memorabilia, jewelry, cocoa and chocolate products, post cards and photographs. From time to time tea will be offered on the terraces.

The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, through the multi disciplinary Management Committee of NAPA, is pleased and humbled to receive the keys to this beautifully restored facility. We congratulate and thank all those persons who worked tirelessly, for these long years, to restore this building to its former glory. Among these is the Restoration Architect Ms Rudylynn Roberts, the craftsmen of the Ministry of Works, the brilliant furniture craftsman, Blake and finally, the Chairman and board of UDeCOTT, project manager and staff.

In so doing, we acknowledge the awesome responsibility of this wonderful example of built heritage of our Nation. NAPA Management Committe members are ready to roll up their sleeves and begin work as they pledge to care, protect and nurture Killarney on behalf of all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Let me close with a sentence from 2 Chronicles 24:13

“So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them, and they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it.”

Thank you. May God bless this house; and may God bless Trinidad and Tobago.