The Cabinet building *File photo
The Cabinet building *File photo
Today the Minister of Environment and Planning, the Hon. Sylvan D. Richards JP MP announced that he is considering, on the advice of the Department of Planning and the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee, adding eight more buildings to the list of architecturally and/or historically significant buildings in Bermuda.

These eight include Sessions House, Cabinet Office, Magistrates Court, the Old Town Hall, City Hall, Perot’s Post Office, Par-La-Ville, and the Victoria Bandstand.

These would be the first buildings to be listed in the City of Hamilton since the Anglican Cathedral was listed in 1983.

The Minister, in considering the protection of these historic buildings, is requesting your comments and support and you are encouraged to contact the Department of Planning’s Heritage Officer Richard Lowry at rmlowry@gov.bm.

Each property was evaluated by the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee on twelve criteria, including historic association, architectural importance, rarity, and period integrity.

Age is only one criterion and one of the buildings proposed was completed as recently as 1960: the iconic City Hall, designed by the celebrated Bermudian architect Wil Onions.

Other buildings, however, are steeped in heritage, such as the Old Town Hall, which is the oldest surviving building in the City. Built in 1784 as the Customs House, it was used for meetings of the Legislature between 1815 and 1817, while from 1875 to 1968 it housed the city’s fire engines.

The Sessions House was completed in 1818 and in the 1890s the signature terracotta decorated clock tower and south colonnade were added for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It has also been the site of some of the most momentous event in our island’s history, such as freeing the enslaved men, women and children from the US Brig Enterprise in 1835.

The Cabinet Office was opened in 1841 as the Public Building, which housed the Customs and Treasury offices on the ground floor and the Governor’s Council and Secretariat on the upper floor. In 1849 it also housed the island’s first public library.

Perot’s Post Office was built ca. 1842 by William Bennett Perot, who designed his now highly sought after one penny stamp. The newly vacated Magistrates Court was originally built in 1869 to house the Post Office and Telegraph Office and by 1900 it became the General Post Office.

‘Par-la-Ville’ (which means ‘by the town’) was built on a five acre plot adjacent to the Town boundary, ca. 1801-1816, and the gardens partially survive as Queen Elizabeth II Park. The property was acquired by the Corporation in 1900 and from 1902 it housed the Natural History Museum and from 1917, the Bermuda Library.

Finally, the cast iron designed Bandstand was imported from Scotland to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887, and in 2008/9 it was carefully restored by the Corporation.

A ‘listed building’ is a building or structure which is considered to be of 'special architectural or historic interest’. Planning permission is required for the demolition or the making of any material alteration to the external appearance of a Listed Building.

“These buildings are of historic and cultural importance and are symbols of Bermuda and its government and economic centre - Hamilton,” said Minister Richards. “It is important to protect these buildings from development which could ultimately jeopardize the character and integrity of that culturally important building.”

Further information on these buildings is available on the Department’s website: www.planning.gov.bm or on their Facebook page.

Editor’s Note Photographs of each of the eight buildings are available upon request as are more detailed descriptions of the criteria by which each building was selected.