Government urged to act over state of historic home
The Government has been urged to take action to prevent a historic Devonshire home from falling into disrepair.
Montpelier, a listed building owned by the Bermuda Government, had been the official residence of the Deputy Governor.
But it has been empty since 2018 and the building has started to deteriorate.
The Bermuda National Trust said: “There have been comments that the police use the house for firearms practice and that the cottage is being used as a gang graffiti platform.
“Whether this is true or not, Montpelier today is in a sorry state due entirely to wilful neglect – so sad for a once-treasured family home.
“One wonders why, if the Bermuda Government no longer has a use for the house, it is not sold to someone who would restore and appreciate it.”
Montpelier was built in the mid to late 1700s and the building was originally a T-shaped cottage.
But it was gradually expanded over the years.
The first recorded owner was Richard Jennings Peniston, who moved in with his family in 1781.
The house was taken over through compulsory purchase by the British military in 1867 under the Bermuda Defence Act and it became the home of senior army officers.
Montpelier became the temporary headquarters of Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Swire, the chief censor, and his staff of linguists or ‘foreign language readers’ in 1940 with barbed wire fencing erected around the house.
But World War Two censorship operation was moved to the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Montpelier returned to use as military housing.
The government accepted the UK Government’s offer of £750,000 for their surplus War Department and Admiralty properties in 1953 – which included about 830 acres of land and 225 houses.
The site was adopted as the official home of the Colonial Secretary – a position which later became the Deputy Governor.
Montpelier was restored at a cost of £7,000 in 1954 after it was said to be in a “shocking, ghastly and dismal” condition and another £4,500 was spent on furnishings.
The land surrounding Montpelier was transferred to the Parks Department in 1955 and a reforestation effort began.
A hillside in front of Montpelier was later flattened to improve sight lines and the neighbouring Potters Field was bought to create what is now the Arboretum.