MARIGOT–District five representative Paul Whit has expressed disappointment that the Collectivite’s re-creation of Milo Rum shop currently under construction in Marigot as a historical, educational landmark and tourist attraction, does not have the authentic look of the original building.
The current structure at the junction of Rue de Hollande and Rue de Concordia is built mostly from wood, whereas the original building was built out of bricks or rocks. He said he has written to the Collectivité to see if modifications can be made to the building.
Milo Rum Shop, owned by the late Milo Tondu in its heyday, sold all kinds of rums, punches and other concoctions and had many uniquely-shaped bottles.
District five, one of the more proactive districts in regard to community development, came up with its own beautification projects in 2015 to showcase the island’s heritage and highlight the cultural personalities of the day.
Some 26,000 euros was spent on studies, architect fees, drawings and artists’ impressions to present the district’s vision. The plans, presented to the Collectivité, included recreating Milo Rum shop and beautifying the roundabouts with exhibits, artefacts and statues.
Whit praised the Aline Hanson administration for moving forward with the 103,438-euro Milo Shop project. Budgets were voted for both Milo Shop and the roundabouts.
“What you see is not what we had presented from an architectural standpoint. Changes were made,” said Whit of the shop. “The idea was to build it back in cement, but using the original bricks or rocks that were kept back for the facade to give it that antique look. It’s not the fault of this government, so we will be presenting the original details again to explain exactly how it is supposed to look.”
But a spokesperson for the architect firm working on the project for the Collectivité explained it was not possible to recreate the original construction due to the strict legal restraints on designing a public building that has to be hurricane- and earthquake proof, with doorways and entry made accessible for wheelchair users and the disabled, and other considerations. The carpentry itself is very solid to withstand hurricanes and the wood thoroughly treated.
It was understood that the rocks used in the original building could not be used in the walls of the new building because of the seismic risk. Instead, some authenticity has been retained by using the original rocks to complete and protect the water well which is still on the site. The firm indicated the design of the building is based on information obtained from the Territorial Archives and the archaeological services of the Collectivité.
Still to be done on the site is the landscaping and planting, benches and the installation of restrooms. The two mango trees on the property have been retained. The district’s plan included a traditional oven and a mounted scroll of the Treaty of Concordia placed in the garden, but according to Whit, these have been taken out. He also wants Guavaberry trees planted.
“The idea is that the shop sells rums and punches, spices, honey, preserves, cakes and pre-packaged gift items as souvenirs for tourists,” Whit indicated. “We have already contacted the different local businesses that are specialized in this. Brochures will be made up explaining the history of Milo Shop, and taxis will bring tourists there. We will request to reserve some parking space in the adjacent Lazy Bay car park. This project is very important to us, because there is nothing here reminding you of the past and that is dangerous for a country or community. It is important to respect our ancestors for what they have achieved.”
The project is expected to be completed at the end of the month. Isabelle Gorizia, in charge of the project from the Collectivité side, could not be reached for comment yesterday.