Berkeley aims to make sure end is not in sight for historic house Wantley – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Berkeley aims to make sure end is not in sight for historic house Wantley

Wantley, on Princess Street, North Hamilton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The charity behind one of the island’s historic secondary schools has stepped in to help preserve a landmark house threatened with demolition.

The Berkeley Educational Society asked to be consulted before any decision by the Department of Planning to allow Wantley, a Victorian era house where the Berkeley Institute was conceived, to be knocked down.

The society also asked for the Bermuda Housing Corporation, which owns the Princess Street, North Hamilton building, to “immediately reinforce the fencing to eliminate unwelcome access to the property”.

Workmen arrived last week at the home built, for 19th century businessman Samuel Robinson, which the Ministry of Public Works said had fallen into disrepair.

A ministry spokesman added the building had been boarded up “frequently”.

But he said intruders had still gained access, with the property used for illegal drugs, which resulted in fires and other damage.

Wantley’s condition was said to present a health and safety risk.

The cost to return the house to its former glory was estimated to be as much as $1.3 million.

The BHC said it had decided to demolish the building and rebuild on the site.

But its location in a Historic Protection Area would need Planning department permission for its destruction – despite a demolition order being granted in March.

The Berkeley Educational Society letter, dated last Friday, said planning law required the Development Applications Board to hear from people or groups with a special interest in site preservation.

The group highlighted that the 1974 Act allowed the Board to “refuse to grant such permission where it would cause detriment to the established historical, architectural or cultural character of the area”.

The letter added: “The Berkeley Educational Society plainly has an interest in preserving the heritage of Wantley House for the reasons we articulated in this letter.

“Its historical significance as to the Berkeley Institute and Bermuda at large cannot be overstated.”

The school’s board of governors told The Royal Gazette last week it would try to organise a partnership in a bid to save the house.

Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, a charity, also called for the building to be preserved.

The founders of the Berkeley Educational Society held their first meeting at the home of Mr Robinson and his wife, Elmira Thomas, in 1879 and the Berkeley Institute opened in 1897.

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Published June 15, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated June 15, 2021 at 7:34 am)

Berkeley aims to make sure end is not in sight for historic house Wantley

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