You might not think of architecture as being a big draw when planning a trip to Trinidad, what with all the sizzling nightlife/Carnival and everyday partying, one-of-a-kind eco wonders, religious festivals, and amazing cuisine that generally draw people here. If you’ve ever been to the Savannah, and in particular the western edge of the park along Maraval Road, though, you know different.
That’s where you’ll find The Magnificent Seven, a collection of historic former mansions built in the early-1900s each espousing distinctly Edwardian and Victorian-era architecture rarely seen in our corner of the world.
All of the seven structures are unique, though they all share common elements of eccentricity, whimsy, and flair. They’re also all historically important, serving as they once did as the most powerful addresses in all of Trinidad & Tobago.
One of the Seven, Whitehall, housed the Office of the Prime Minister from 1963 to 2010, serving, among other things, as the headquarters for the short-lived West Indies Federation before that. The Archbishop’s Palace and the Anglican Bishop’s residence (Hayes Court) are also among the Magnificent Seven. Then there’s Stollmeyer’s Castle, which housed U.S. troops during WWII, Mille Fleurs, formerly owned by the Prada family, and Ambard’s House (AKA: Roomor), the last of the Seven to remain a private residence.
The grandest of all these amazing structures, though, is the spectacular Queen’s Royal College pictured above. Strikingly beautiful in its bright red facade and dark trim emblematic of Trinidad’s flag and national colors, the QRC was established in 1859, becoming just the second secondary school to open in Trinidad. That first incarnation of the school was based elsewhere, though, as the original cornerstone for the iconic QRC building of today was laid in November 1902. The first day of classes here took place on March 24, 1904. Its most notable feature, it’s soaring clock tower, first started keeping time in 1913.
With all the history and national pride wrapped up in The Magnificent Seven, it’s little wonder that the local government has taken a role in seeing to it that they are preserved. Again, the QRC shines as the best example of this, though other Magnificent Seven buildings have not been so lucky.
Just a few doors down, Mille Fleurs bore the look of a abandoned crack house when Patrick and I strolled past it two Sundays ago. Stollmeyer’s Castle was looking significantly worse for wear as well.
Progress has been slow on restoration promises made by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago in the past, though if the final results are anything like the current QRC, the waiting may just be worth it in the end. To help push things along, “Like” Save The Magnificent Seven on Facebook.