Jean Rhys House in Roseau has been demolished

Jean Rhys House before demolition. Photo: Lennox Honychurch; the demolition site on May 7, 2020. Photo: Cecil Clarke

The childhood home of the writer Jean Rhys in the centre of Roseau, Dominica, has been demolished by its new owner.

“It is understood that a four-storey office block is to be put in its place,” Journalist and co-founder of Papillote Press, Polly Pattullo, writes in an article which was posted in Repeating Islands, a blog on Caribbean culture, literature and the arts.

Pattullo further states in the article that the house, which stood on the corner of Queen Mary Street (now Independence Street) and Cork Street for perhaps 150 years, had been in a poor condition for some time and was further damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“But those who treasure literary heritage will mourn its passing,” the writer points out.

Read the full story. 

 

 

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36 Comments

  1. Roger Burnett
    May 13, 2020

    I hope it is not too late to place a protection order on the mango tree. As of this morning it was still standing and bearing fruit.

    As others have stated, Roseau needs to preserve the what green there is left.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • youth
      May 16, 2020

      I don’t think a mango tree in rat infested Roseau is a good idea! There are smaller and more suitable plants that can be properly designated to areas. And if you look at an aerial view of Roseau, there are many trees. Roseau needs a green space, a plaza, a park. There are a few already but somewhere central.

  2. Malatete
    May 12, 2020

    The Jean Rhys house falls within the environmental protection area as designated by the Govt’s Physical Planning division. The particular plot has a grade A classification, with regard to preservation (Roseau Development plan, strategy and action plan of Nov. 2020).
    As such it would be subject to the physical planning act. no.5 (Historic Buildings classifications and regulations) of 2012.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  3. A voice
    May 12, 2020

    Common Gabu & Shaka, I know you better than that. What history to preserve? We have to let go of some of these things. The woman rode her horse from one family plantation to another Roseau to Geneva, mentioned this in one of her books, couldn’t influence her family/dad to treat their human slaves more humane and you’d like us to preserve her house just because her books sold millions? We have to be selective in what we keep as memories. It’s more prudent that our govt not allow so much prime real estate sold to Chinese operatives posing as citizens and be transparent about those MOU with China.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
    • Shaka zulu
      May 12, 2020

      I feel you and understand where you coming from. However, everything is in perspective. It is not always about presevation of the happy times. Sometimes you have to preserve the dark and ugly let it serve as a reminder. If you bury them human beings will forget and some will love that to say it never happened. Can you believe what would happen today if they had destroyed everything about slavery in US and the holocust? Some would like to say it never happened and then we let down our guard. History repeats itself. There are no murals or square immortalizing the strikes of the 80s. Guess what the young forget and see no need to fight today. If we do it ourselves we get to set our history and dictate the future. We can let go but never forget. These are two different things and we should never whipe out ALL the past. Hope you get wherr i am coming from.

      • A voice
        May 13, 2020

        Got you, notice I said “some” eh.

  4. youth
    May 12, 2020

    Dominica needs some young entrepreneurs to restore and convert these abandoned buildings in Roseau into new restaurants, art galleries, museums, creative spaces, bars, craft studios etc. Instead the land is always tied up in legal battles, deceased owners and city negligence. Don’t wait for foreigners to come in with fresh ideas…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  5. Countess
    May 11, 2020

    Building office space is good. However, I hope the planning and housing department make sure that a ground floor is put in place for parking. Enough already with parking on the streets.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6
    • youth
      May 12, 2020

      If Roseau has 2000 employees a day, 1000 want their own ride to park in front their office and the other 1000 want their personal bus driver to be ready at 5pm to bring them country.too many cars in Roseau!! Too much obesity!! Parliament looks like a bunch of Roly polies so they would never push laws for parking. All a tourist sees is cars, no space to take a photo of the city

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • Toto
      May 12, 2020

      Why you need more parking spaces so in Roseau. Especially the old part can easily be covered on foot. Leave your vehicle outside town and walk. That is healthy for you, too many obese people it have in Dominica already.

  6. Shaka zulu
    May 10, 2020

    Do we understand tbe historical significance of saving these buildings. All that needs to do is rehabilitation leave in original style so when tourist comes tours can be organized around Roseau that have stories to tell. There should be a historical society in Dominica looking at preservation of some of these old buildings.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  7. Isle of Wonder
    May 10, 2020

    Little by little they getting rid of our history which is a sign of a Dominica that is lost! It’s been said a nation of people that do not have their history is doomed to fail. Well we have a click that is bent on destroying our country and history and they will stop at nothing because they are damn hungry greedy hyenas. I don’t know who what is going to be built and who is behind it but we know for sure that it’s the same greedy millionaire that behind behind that. Our national anthem is “Isle of beauty isle of splendor” but the new first line is replaced by Isle of wonder, because all we hearing is, I wonder who, wonder what and wonder why.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5
  8. Going gone
    May 10, 2020

    As I was walking by some time ago I noticed a couple Chinese looking at the house and writing on a pad. Does Dominica still belong to us? I don’t think so. But you could ask the AM. I hope you know who I mean. The tiff.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4
    • Silver fox
      May 11, 2020

      @going gone,
      You asked the question” if Dominica still belongs to us “the answer is yes Dominica is for Dominicans and will always be but most of all improvements is a must in Dominica Mr Skerrit is a God sent he is blessed Mr Skerrit has changed this island from a joke to serious business I was in Grenada Barbados and Aruba last year visiting they were all talking how good our prime minister is doing for Dominica Silver fox, only is asking God before I die that evildoer Lennox Linton and his conmen nasty despicable people be disappear from this planet earth

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16
  9. Eagle-Eyed
    May 10, 2020

    I hope the new building will be named after her in order to preserve her legacy.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
  10. Driftwood
    May 10, 2020

    How sad for Roseau! a 4 storey office building instead? Who is the new owner of that place? I smell a rat….
    But what about the huge old mango tree, will it be cut down? It would be another tragic loss, Roseau needs more green!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 4
    • Garvey
      May 10, 2020

      A nation without it’s past history is like a tree without roots,people perish without it’s past history.progress is not how many concrete structures you erect but how smart you plan for your future growth.Lots of cities around the world have had great success with architectural tourism that could be a niche market in Dominica.Since we a not a white sand beach attraction let it be nature and architecture,but with a Gov’t who is bankrupt with ideas and visionless that’s the end result.Go figure.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  11. May 9, 2020

    I remember when I first came to DA twenty years ago that Vena’s was near my guesthouse and a spot I visited more than once. The tree in the centre was such a delight, a garden in the middle of the commotion of town. But it seems that times move on whether we’d prefer it or not. :(

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1
    • ?
      May 10, 2020

      So what who cares old buildings don’t bring development

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14
      • Toto
        May 11, 2020

        Brother, the State House is a new building. Did that bring Development.? You are a Philistine

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5
  12. May 9, 2020

    If I am not mistaken that was the home of Sparrow Winston
    the famous Venas restaurant at one time.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  13. Willie
    May 8, 2020

    I wonder if we have laws to protect historical buildings on this island. If we don’t have such laws we need them ASAP

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2
    • Da Girl
      May 11, 2020

      @ Willie I totally agree with you. This is just sad, truly. We need laws protecting our historical sites. If there are such laws, they need to be enforced.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • Malatete
      May 12, 2020

      There was an organisation, certainly between 2007 and 2015 by the name of Shape, which cared for the maintenance of Roseau’s historic character, going as far as repainting old buildings. They even printed a wonderful calendar depicting these buildings. I believe it was funded by the E.U. and ceased to exist when the funds ran out.

  14. god way
    May 8, 2020

    oh wow thanks for the infor very sad to see it go they should put a big hotel in it place

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10
  15. Gabriel Joshua Christian
    May 8, 2020

    Why is Roger Burnett’s comment the only one? What about our architects and our heritage communities? What of our Division of Culture? Jean Rhys is a major name in world literature – certainly in the works of English literature. Heritage tourism is important.We have to preserve that which makes us unique and enhances our cultural offerings. We can and must do more to discuss such matters which are in the national interest. so we can weigh things before taking action. Does our department of planning have a place for public contribution? This article is useful on the importance of preserving our heritage -https://nowtoronto.com/news/5-reasons-we-should-care-about-heritage-preservation/

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3
    • Eagle-Eyed
      May 11, 2020

      Gaboo, I’m sure with your level of influence you can gather together like-minded individuals who could write project proposals and submit to UNESCO and other international organisations for funding to purchase such historical landmarks which can be preserved for future generations. From what i gather, these buildings/sites etc. are privately owned so it shouldn’t be left solely to the government to undertake such initiatives.

    • A voice
      May 11, 2020

      Relic of the old slavery days, sad memories, let those go.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8
      • Pipo
        May 11, 2020

        This house was built after slavery was abolished and Jean Rhys father was not a slave owner but a medical doctor, appointed by the British government to serve the needs of all Dominicans. I hate slavery with a passion but at least we must get our facts right.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  16. Roger Burnett
    May 8, 2020

    Thank you Polly for placing this on record.

    Since I first knew Roseau in the 1970’s, so much of its historical character and identity has been lost.

    Antrim House is another building at risk that has literary and historic associations. It was the home of Elma Napier and features in her book “Black and White Sands”. It lost its roof in Hurricane Maria and awaits restoration.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2
    • Pipo
      May 8, 2020

      Apparently we don’t have a sense of history and don’t value it either. Some will say oh, you mustn’t be so nostalgic and we musn’t be against development but couldn’t we do that with a coherent look that gives character to the whole of Roseau instead of a hotschpotch of mismatching buildings and neglected and rundown sites. Sorry but town looks a mess, nothing attractive about it.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0
    • don corriette
      May 8, 2020

      Mr. Burnett its interesting, this evening while driving through Antrim, part of the discussion among the occupants in the vehicle, was, whats happening to Antrim? and Clemson University?; the other question was, are we going to allow another historical site of the likes of Savanne ( residence of the Pembertons) in Pointe Michel and others such as the Rhys House in Roseau to be wiped out from our history and heritage? Growing up as a youth between Pointe Michel,Castle Street and Cock street in Roseau, Savanne and the Rhys house and the cobble stone roads in Roseau was a fascination. I attended the St Luke’s school, and Ms. Button school right next door to these land marks respectively. Twenty five years later while studying in Jamaica I visited the Devon House and Bam! both these sites, these treasures, immediately came to mind. We really need a strong focus, a pressure group to help secure our heritage, historical buildings and sites. BTW I know I owe you a visit lol!!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2
    • Parallels
      May 9, 2020

      You see Roger, we don’t mind preserving things of historical value, we do practically all our lives. I am sick and tired of people referencing those and omitting the realities that those plantations were associated with. I can just imagine mentioning to a Jew those historic buildings, some still standing in Austrech, Germany and elsewhere intensive to what they stood for (just as historians mention pirates like a walk in the park). Jewish people DON’T stand for that, they vehemently oppose any insensitivity and demand tearing those down. Point to ponder.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13
      • Sold
        May 10, 2020

        These people can afford to maintain their sites. Can Dominica afford the same? We don’t have planning to fix and upkeep Roseau sidewalks which is far more important, let alone preserving a building. If that it were possible to preserve it, it would be painted In RED for one segment of the island’s population. Too much #%& politics.

      • Stressfree
        May 11, 2020

        Parallels I see your point of view to a certain extent – it depends on how one views these realities, and that is what it is, reality – we therefore can’t reverse what has occurred good or bad- what we ought to do is to preserve such sites to our benefit , take the positives, whether it be for education and information purposes and of course tourism and economic benefits. Another aim is to ensure such events, if you want to say atrocities, to never ever happen again in the future. I think if we take your hard line then many religious, political, civil, and military monuments, cenotaph for example may have be taken down for what they stand for, defended or characterize. The Jews are one thing . speak to Palestine, you may see another side of insensitivity. So I guess in respect it depends on what opinion you hold on too! Blessings.

    • Isle of Wonder
      May 10, 2020

      Little by little they getting rid of our history which is a sign of a Dominica that is lost! It’s been said a nation of people that do not have their history is doomed to fail. Well we have a click that is bent on destroying our country and history and they will stop at nothing because they are damn hungry greedy hyenas. I don’t know who what is going to be built and who is behind it but we know for sure that it’s the same greedy millionaire that behind behind that. Our national anthem is “Isle of beauty isle of splendor” but the new first line is replaced by Isle of wonder, because all we hearing is, I wonder who, wonder what and wonder why.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

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