This is a sketch of Mille Fleurs in Port of Spain, Trinidad. This is the third of four sketches I have done thus far of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ (a series of mansions by the Queen’s Park Savannah). “Mille Fleurs” or Prada House was built in 1904, when for the first time buildings were allowed to go up on what was the former St. Clair Farm. It is situated at No. 23 Maraval Road, and while it was being built, all the other magnificent structures on that strip – except the Anglican Bishop’s residence on its western side – were either completed or in the process of completion. Dr. Enrique Prada, Mayor of Port of Spain from 1914 – 1917, was born in Venezuela in 1867 and came to Trinidad, where he was educated at St. Mary’s College. He won the Island Scholarship in 1884 and went on to study Medicine in England. He returned to Trinidad in 1892 and joined the Government Service, becoming the Government Medical Officer for a number of years. As a prominent man in the community, Prada and his wife held many social functions at “Mille Fleurs” during the time they lived there. The house was apparently built for Mrs. Enrique Prada, who gave it the name “Mille Fleurs”, which suggests it may have been surrounded by flowers.
“Mille Fleurs” is in the style of a typical town-house of the period, and its architecture may be referred to as early French Renaissance, with wrought iron fretwork, so common in houses of that kind. The Pradas sold the house in 1923 to Joseph Salvatori, and the Salvatori family occupied it until 1971. It passed on to Mrs. Pierre Lelong, who kept it for two years, and in 1973 sold it to the merchant George Matouk. Matouk never seemed to occupy it and in very recent times, owing to representations by the Government, it became public property.
Above are photos of Mille Fleur that I took in 2006 and 2011 respectively. It was carded for restoration back in 2006, and I believe it is on some sort of hold currently… 5 years later! While time passes by, the building deteriorates, and our architectural patrimony becomes an eye-sore. More than 5 years have gone by with Mille Fleurs in this sad state, and I won’t doubt it will be this way for another 5 years. Truth is, restoration costs a lot… What we have to take seriously is maintenance. If we continually maintain our projects, fixing problems as they show up… the huge costs of almost overhauling a project can be avoided. I do hope Mille Fleur, the President’s House, The Red House, Stollmeyer’s Castle and all the other deteriorating historical projects in Trinidad & Tobago are restored before they disappear. I would hate for them to end up the way we continually treat our heroes, calypsonians, historians, and educators… not paying any attention to them until they are all gone.
Click here for interview with Historic Preservation Architect Rudylynn Roberts>>>
Abstract Architecture of the day:
3.5″ x 5″ Strathmore Sketchbook, ink pens and Sharpies
This work byVernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.