2014 World Monuments Watch
Resembling a small castle in the heart of Guyana’s capital, Georgetown City Hall has historically been the office of the mayor and city council. Built in the late nineteenth century in the Gothic Revival style, the building was constructed using local timber, cast iron columns, and a hammer-beam roof. The city hall is a local landmark and represents tropical colonial architecture during a time of great public building. It is thought to be one of the best examples of British Victorian design in the Caribbean and is being considered for inclusion on a Georgetown heritage trail.
Georgetown City Hall was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch because it is in a state of deterioration due to a lack of resources and awareness of its significance. Its preservation would provide an opportunity for training in the traditional craftsmanship of the region and help to secure reuse and long-term stewardship of the building.
A long-neglected building is recognized and supported
Since the announcement of the Watch, institutions and government agencies have supported the restoration of this important structure. In April 2014, the Guyanese government pledged to cover part of the costs associated with the preservation work, and in May 2015 the European Union allocated resources to the project for the development of a conservation plan.
The Ministry of Culture and the National Trust of Guyana hosted a Watch Day forum and exhibit dedicated to Georgetown City Hall in June 2014. Participants gathered at a building called the “Unama Yana,” which is Wai-Wai for “meeting place of the people.” The event featured a speech by the Minister of Culture and a lecture by prominent architect Lennox Hernandez on the history and architectural significance of Georgetown City Hall.
WMF secured funding for a Guyana Preservation Seminar, hosted by the National Trust of Guyana which included lectures by experts in the heritage field. The seminar took place in June 2016, a week after the 50th anniversary of Guyana’s independence on May 26. The proceedings from the event have been used to produce a publication, available to the public here. Our work at Georgetown City Hall will increase international awareness of the site and Guyanese heritage as a whole.