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A monument includes any building, structure, object or other work of man or of nature whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor of the sea within the territorial waters of Guyana and any site, cave or excavation. Monuments are as varied as their creators. They represent the hopes or aspirations of the people built to withstand the sands of times. National monuments are the vested responsibility of the National Trust and are gazetted as such, after cabinet has approved them. At present there are nine gazetted national monuments in Guyana.
FORT ZEELANDIA & THE COURT OF POLICY
Approximately 16 km from the mouth of the mighty Essequibo River is Fort Island. On this island are two structures: Fort Zeelandia and the Court of Policy or Dutch Church. During the period of Dutch occupation the Fort and the Court of Policy were part of a large urban settlement that extended along the northeastern section of the island. This was the seat of the Dutch administration in the colony of Essequibo.
Fort Zeelandia was constructed in 1744. It was constructed to protect the interests of the Dutch West India Company from European rivals such as the English and French who frequented the eastern coast of South America in search of the spoils of war. In addition it was meant to serve as a stronghold against internal forces such as rebellious slaves.
This brick fort which replaced a wooden structure was constructed in accordance to a design by the then secretary of the colony of Essequibo Laurens Storm Vans Gravesande (the colony’s longest serving Dutch Commandeur 1738 – 1776) to conserve funds. It is said that the design ‘followed a pattern lozenge-shaped forts which were common in West Africa during that period'. Within the compound of the Fort are the Armory used for the storage of ammunition and several canons reminiscent of the belligerent history of the site.
COURT OF POLICY
The Court of Policy served multiple functions. It was a store and at the same time a church, court, seat of government and a sales office. Inside the Court of Policy are the tombs of three Dutch Officials. It is the oldest non – military structure in Guyana. To this day church services are held there.
This fort was constructed on the eastern bank of the Berbice River circa 1627 by Abraham Van Pere [a Dutch merchant] and his colonists . This was the seat of Government in Berbice which was governed as a separate colony prior to the unification of the three colonies Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice in 1831.
This fort was constructed of wood and enclosed with palisades. The fort had an 'irregular rectangular redoubt wherein was a larger stone building.' The barracks were built to house about 60 soldiers. The main building in the fort had two floors. The Governor, Captain of the Troops, the Secretary and two Lieutenants lived on the upper floor. There was a Council Chamber and Church Hall on the first floor. The Fort was surrounded by outhouses for servants and petty officials.
In 1712 it was demolished when Baron de Mouans’ corsairs threw bombs into it and held Berbice at ransom. A new fort was constructed. During the slave revolt of 1763 it was burnt by Governor Van Hoogenheim and his soldiers to prevent the slave rebels from acquiring it.
This was erected at Cartabo Point in the Esssequibo River and appears to be the earliest Dutch fort. Various historians give different dates of construction. Hartsinck claims that work on the fort commenced in 1613 and finished about 1623 while Major John Scott claims that it was started in 1616.
It is claimed that the building was finally completed by 1623 - 1627.
The ruins of the fort revealed that it was not very large. The ground floor was used as a storehouse and a magazine for food imports, goods received from the Indians and ammunition..
There were three rooms on the top floor –one for the soldiers, one for the Commandeur, and one for the Secretary. All that remains of this fort is an arch. There were provision grounds around the fort and benabs for the conduct of trade with the indigenous Indians who brought cotton, tobacco, annatto, balsam copaibo, etc. to satisfy the demands of the Dutch.
It is claimed that originally the fort was named Fort ter Hoogen after “an Influential Dutch gentleman but its name was later changed to Kyk-over-al," as a result of its strategic location that allowed for the view over the Essequibo River and its tributaries.
This house with its 100 windows was built during the 1820s on land belonging to the Anglican Church in British Guiana. Several governors including, Governor Lyght and Governor Barclay, resided there. A rent of 240.00 pounds each month was paid by the governors who resided there.
In 1852 and 1863 ordinances legislating the purchase of the building to establish a home for the British governors were passed. The original building had two storeys and a double stairway and faced Carmichael Street.
Over time many changes were made to the building. Adjacent lots numbers 57 to 60 on Main Street and 93 to 95 on Carmichael Street.
By 1894, the present building’s main entrance was in Main Street. Known as 'the Grande Dame of Main Street' this elegant wooden building exhibits fine wooden architecture. many of the ornate designs of the interior of the building are credited to Caesar Castellani, one of the most prolific architects of the colonial era. Restored to its former glory this house is now the official residence of the President of Guyana.
UMANA YANA & AFRICAN LIBERATION MONUMENT
In 1972, members of the Non - Aligned Movement and Third World Nations chose Guyana as host of the first meeting of the Non - Aligned Nations. This was the first meeting of its kind to be held in the hemisphere. Hosts of previous meetings had staged their affairs in buildings, which can only be described as ‘glittering showcases.’
A committee of government officials was assembled to identify a building to accommodate the conference. Guyana as host to the prestigious event was unable to afford the construction of a brick or concrete building and time would not permit the erection of a new wooden building. In light of these constraints the idea of an Amerindian benab enthused the committee.
The lawns of the former Mariners’ Club, at the northeastern end of High Street where it met with Battery Road, was selected as the ideal location for the benab, that was to be constructed in the classic pattern of the benab built at Konashen by the Wai – Wai people. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was charged with the responsibility for the construction of the benab, with the assistance of the Department of Interior Development. The materials and work force were to be secured from the interior. Wai Wai Chief Elka and sixty odd Amerindians were recruited for the execution of this task. An architect was then commissioned to prepare plans for the building that would house the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Non Aligned Nations.
A circular area of the lawn, about 26.8 metres in diameter was cleared of grass and excavated, the soil leveled and compacted to a smooth hard finish by the Wai - Wai who ‘stomped the ground, feet unshod, moving rhythmically forward, backward and round and round as in a sort of tribal dance’. Sand was then placed over the area and a concrete foundation slab; complete with holes for the insertion of the poles was laid to protect the st
ructure from dampness, given the nature of the shallow water table of the coastal soils.
Poles straight as arrows, round wood saplings, vines and lush green troolie fronds culled from palm trees growing in profusion in swamp lands upriver were used by the Wai - Wai. They climbed the smooth poles with remarkable agility, sat astride the round wood grids, or hung bat - like with stocky legs high above the ground to secure the materials utilising the techniques used by their countless generations in the construction of buildings. Unlike the tradi tional Amerindian building, nails were used to secure the roof against wind pressures given its location.
After only eighty days the Umana Yana was completed at a modest cost of $26,000.00. On 8 August 1972, the flags of more than 80 nations fluttered proudly along the eastern edge of the Umana Yana’s compound as the meeting of the Non - Aligned Nations commenced. Like sands of the time, the Umana Yana is an eloquent reminder of the diversity of our culture, a reflection of the lifestyles between the indigenous peoples and the western oriented dwellers of the city.
On 26 August 1974, ‘Namibia Day’ former President Forbes Burnham unveiled the African Liberation Monument in memory ‘ of all of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for the freedom of Human Bondage.’ This monument consists of five polished greenheart logs encased in a jasper stand on a granite boulder.
The varying heights of the logs are representative of the different ages of the martyrs; the slab of granite represents the strength of the freedom movement and the pebbles around the base of the monument represent the millions of peoples who are involved in the fight of human bondage.
NON - ALIGNED MONUMENT
The monument commemorates the 1972 Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned countries when it was held in Guyana, 8 – 11 August, 1972. The monument was unveiled by His Excellency, Mr. Arthur Chung, the first President of Guyana in honour of the founders of the Non - Aligned Movement: President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Pandit Jawaharlall Nehru of India and President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia; the leaders who initiated the conference of Afro- Asian countries.
There are four busts sculpted to the likeness of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, three are of bronze and one of plastic. These were sculpted in the countries from which the founder leaders originated. They are mounted on a concrete plinth with a base made of quartz stone from the Mazaruni district. Four jasper rocks from the Orinduik waterfall adorn the front of the monument in a pool decorated with colourful stones from the riverbeds of Guyana.
RED HOUSE (KAMANA COURT)
This building with its distinctive red colour is situated in High Street, Kingston between Young and Barrack Streets. It is built of timber (pitch-pine) and is covered with red wallaba shingles. It is not certain whether the verandah and the ground floor were part of the original building.
The Red House was acquired in 1925 by the Colony of British Guiana. Sir Eustace Woolford, a Speaker of the Legislature, was one of the early owners of the house. Between 1925 to 1953, numerous Colonial Secretaries resided there.
Dr. Cheddi Jagan also lived there from 1961 to 1964 while he served as Premier of British Guiana. Subsequently from 1965 to the early 1990's the Red House was used as government offices e.g. the Public Service Ministry. The house was left vacant until 1999 when the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre was established in the building.
This monument was unveiled by former President Burnham on 23 May 1976. It commemorates the 1763 slave rebellion; the first revolt that came close to success. Cuffy as the leader of this insurrection has been declared to be one of our national heroes. His legacy has been immortalized in bronze.
Philip Moore was the sculptor of this impressive work of art. The monument is 10.1 meters (33 feet) high and is built on a concrete plinth designed by Albert Rodrigues. It symbolizes the struggle of the Guyanese people for their liberation. It is situated at the eastern end of Brickdam.
ST. GEORGES CATHEDRAL
This Gothic cathedral holds the distinction of being the tallest timber church in the world standing at 43.6 m.(143 feet tall). The cathedral was built between 1877 and 1892. Its foundation stone was laid on 21 November, 1889 and it was consecrated on the 50th Anniversary of the Bishop on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1892.
At a cost of $160,000.00 this cathedral was designed by Mr. Arthur Blomfield of Montague Square, London. The church was opened on 26 March, 1893. Constructed from greenheart and English oak, the original edifice had an Elizabethan look before its studs and bracing were covered with greenheart siding. On account of the excess weight placed on the building's foundation the greenheart sidings were removed.
The church has a beautiful wrought-iron chancel screen, rose window and stained glass panels on the eastern side of the building. This cathedral is the fourth building constructed by the Anglican Diocese in Guyana. It is built in the shape of a cruciform of greenheart wood. The nave and roofs are sustained by iron columns in Gothic style reminiscent of the cathedrals in London.