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Trust project restoring Springfield treasure

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The Bermuda National Trust has embarked on a major renovation project to restore one of the Island's oldest homes.

The historic Springfield property, with its spectacular cedar porch and picturesque buttery in Sandys, dates back to the 1740s when it was owned by the Gilbert family.

It was returned to the Trust by the Bermuda Government two years ago before which time it was used to house the Somerset Library and then Somerset Community Centre.

The hands of time have taken their toll on the architectural treasure as well as its pretty gardens.

But now, thanks to the Trust, a six-strong team of gardeners, handymen and an extremely generous gift from BCM McAlpine, it looks set to be restored to its former glory.

“We have been working feverishly on the property for the last couple of months,” said Dorcas Roberts, the Trust's director of preservation.

“Our priority at the moment is to make the two-storey building next to Springfield habitable again, as well as the structure at the back that is the former slave quarters.

“The neighbouring building will be transformed into a one-bedroom apartment and a studio and then rented out. We hope that will be completed by next month.

“The property at the back will be turned into a two bedroom home, again for rent, which should be completed by the end of the year.

“At the same time we are working on the garden and also the interior of Springfield itself and will be holding an open day on the first weekend of December.

“Next month carpenters from BCM McAlpine will be on site to completely refurbish the beautiful cedar porch that has begun to decay. They have agreed to do this at no cost which is an incredibly generous gesture and one we are hugely grateful for.”

The Springfield property, which includes and neighbours the Gilbert Nature Reserve and covers over nine acres, was built in the 1740s.

When it was constructed by Ephraim and Mary Gilbert it consisted of a range of three rooms in the wing that is now fronted by the long veranda, a hall, an entrance passage and a chamber. Under the front three rooms was a large cellar.

Mr Gilbert died in about 1769 and Springfield was inherited by his eldest son Thomas. He followed in his father's footsteps as Captain of the Sandys Militia and in 1788 the property was valued at £500, the second highest in the parish.

The house was passed down from one generation to the next and slowly expanded to become a much more substantial property. In 1966 the Bermuda Historical Monuments Trust bought the house and it later passed to the National Trust.

It went on to serve as a library, a nursery school and a community centre before being returned to the trust in 2013.

Ms Roberts said: “Restoring Springfield is an exceptionally important Trust project.

“The buildings exhibit great vernacular beauty and their history and architecture provide such a valuable insight into the day-to-day lives of Somerset over the centuries, and the Island as a whole.

“We're still looking to raise funds to cover all the restoration works, our remaining goal is $230,000. We have already had generous donations and support from businesses like BCM McAlpine but if there is anyone else out there who would like to help they can contact the Trust.”

To support the project contact Ms Roberts at dorcas@bnt.bm

Team effort: The National Trust team responsible for renovating Springfield in Sandys. From left Allan Van Putten, Duane Symonds, Dorcas Roberts, Jackei Robinson, Saleem Madyun, Randy Denbrook and Vibio Robinson. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. Trust employee Randy Denbrook at work. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Springfield Renovation: National Trust are renovating and restoring the old Springfield building in Sandys. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 22, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated September 22, 2015 at 9:27 am)

Trust project restoring Springfield treasure

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