Healing the wounds of the past

The Bermuda National Trust is planning to revamp the historic mansion Verdmont and it believes it could help heal rifts over the racial scars of Bermuda's past.

As the historic Smith's Parish gem approaches its next half-century, many feel it could play a pivotal role in uniting the community in their common heritage.

A group of local stakeholders and museum professionals from the US National Trust for Historic Preservation recently met to discuss the potential of the museum on the eve of its 50th anniversary. One of the challenges for the cottage is rising costs coupled with declining numbers of visitors.

  • <B>Verdmont:</B> The historic mansion is being revamped by the National Trust to better reflect the Island's history.

    Verdmont: The historic mansion is being revamped by the National Trust to better reflect the Island's history.


The Bermuda National Trust is planning to revamp the historic mansion Verdmont and it believes it could help heal rifts over the racial scars of Bermuda's past.

As the historic Smith's Parish gem approaches its next half-century, many feel it could play a pivotal role in uniting the community in their common heritage.

A group of local stakeholders and museum professionals from the US National Trust for Historic Preservation recently met to discuss the potential of the museum on the eve of its 50th anniversary. One of the challenges for the cottage is rising costs coupled with declining numbers of visitors.

The Bermuda National Trust says: "The low visitation (approximately 2,000 visitors a year) strongly suggests the house is not being put to optimum use. The 50th anniversary is an opportune time to take a fresh look at how the property is used and the history that is presented for the benefit of the public."

The meeting on Verdmont concluded that "an open and honest" presentation on the black experience in Bermuda was needed. In the October issue of Trustnews, the Trust says: "There is a need to tell the whole story about Bermuda's history and to tell the whole truth — Verdmont should be a place where our shared histories are told.

"Verdmont is a site about Bermuda for all Bermudians. It has been part of, and a witness to, Bermuda's story for 300 years and should openly reflect that history as there is no better place to tell the story."

Local stakeholders came up with the concept of 'The Bermuda Story' — documenting how peoples from Africa, Europe and the Caribbean forged a community on the Island.

The Trust says: "At this remarkable historic site, one can present 'The Bermuda Story' told through the lives, furnishings, buildings, land and vista of Verdmont.

"It would be a story of how African, European and Caribbean people built a community on this tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic and how their successors have continued to build and sustain this community for 400 years. It would be a story of the blending of cultures with the natural resources of the Island.

"This would be a story of all Bermudians for all Bermudians. It responds to an aspiration expressed by many, that blacks and whites live with mutual understanding, mutual respect, and in cooperation as they continue the work of building and sustaining the community.

"Our vision is for Verdmont to be central in the community as a place to learn about Bermuda's past and to appreciate Bermuda's culture as it is today. This transformation will not take place overnight; however, the Trust has made Verdmont a priority for Bermuda's upcoming anniversary in 2009."

If anyone has any information about Verdmont or would like to assist with the research programme, please contact Laura Lyons on 236-6483, extension 217, or email: laura[AT]bnt.bm.

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