Lighthouses are essentially structures from which light is projected to guide seamen safely towards a harbour or port. Towering 103 feet over Water Street and the roofs of many civic and residential buildings is the Lighthouse.
A beacon along the East Coast circa 1806 was first used as a guide, for ships and vessels, toward the Demerara River. In 1817 the Dutch constructed the first lighthouse. It was a wooden structure, as were many of the early lighthouses in the world, illuminated by an oil lamp.
By the 1830’s a new lighthouse was constructed by the British. This sturdy brick building is classified as a shore station built to withstand strong winds as opposed to other lighthouses which are constructed off shore.The lighthouse is surmounted by an iron gallery which is ascended by a flight of one hundred and thirty eight stairs. In the gallery there is a large 1000 watt bulb, which replaced a floating light that was first installed in the lighthouse soon after its construction. This powerful ray of light is visible for a distance of 30 – 40 miles at sea.
From Bondage to Freedom
The National Trust of Guyana, in collaboration with the National Archives of Guyana and the Museum of African Heritage, launched an exhibition to commemorate the 164th anniversary of the freedom of enslaved Africans.
Mr. Edward Green, Assistant Secretary General of Caricom, delivered the feature address and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, The Honourable Ms. Gail Teixeira declared the exhibition open. On display were a number of photographs, sculptures and literature depicting Guyana’s rich African heritage.
Three brochures on Fort Zeelandia and the Court of Policy, the Damon Monument and Heritage Site Visitor Rules were launched in October 2002 as part of a public awareness campaign to sensitize Guyanese of the nation’s patrimony. 1000 copies of each brochure were printed and are available free of cost at the Trust.
30 Years of Conserving the Nation’s Patrimony
A newspaper supplement was published on 29 September in the Sunday Chronicle to sensitize the public of the activities of the Trust. Included in the supplement were a statement by the Minister of Culture, Youth & Sport, Ms. Gail Teixeira, a brief history of the Trust, Conservation and the Community and readings of our architectural heritage.
GTV Round Table Forum On 30 September 2002, Conservation Officer Allyson Stoll, Research & Documentation Officer Lloyd Kandasammy and Ms Indira Anandjit a representative of the Tourism & Hospitality Association of Guyana discussed a number of issues pertaining to the nature of the conservation of historic structures and the role of the National Trust of Guyana. The programme was moderated by Ms. Wendy Hermanstein and was aired on GTV , Channel 11 at 08:00 hours.
GBC Roundtable Discussion A round table forum moderated by Mr. Franklin Langhorn, to discuss the ‘Importance of the Preservation of Historic Structures and the Role of the National Trust of Guyana, was broadcast on 24 September 2002. Panelists Lloyd Kandasammy (Research & Documentation Officer) and Mr. William Harris (Director, Centre for Architectural Heritage, Research & Documentation, Faculty of Technology, University of Guyana) discussed a wide range of topics with the audience.
Heritage Week 2002
The National Trust of Guyana celebrated Heritage Week, 23 – 27 September 2002, to sensitize Guyanese of the need for the conservation of places and structures of historic interest for the benefit of future generations.
Fort Nassau The environs of Fort Nassau were improved with the construction of 30 metres of revetment work to secure the area against erosion, the rehabilitation of the jetty and the erection of a rest shed by Mr. Kurtious, in August 2002.
Mr. Malcom Browne was awarded a contract for the construction and installation of interpretive signs to guide visitors at Fort Nassau, which is regarded as one of the most pristine historical sites in Guyana.
Fort Zeelandia & the Court of Policy
The first phase of the rehabilitation works at Fort Zeelandia and the Court of Policy has been completed. The roof of the Court of Policy has been replaced with one of asphalt shingles. In addition, the area surrounding the Court of Policy has been secured with the erection of a chainlink fence.
Education & Training
Conservation Officer, Allyson Stoll, attended a workshop in St. Kitts over the period 24 – 28 June 2002. The workshop was sponsored by the Organization of American States in St. Kitts to promote Heritage Tourism in the Caribbean.
During the month of October the Trust assisted the IWOKRAMA Ranging Training Programme by providing three days of instruction in Genera History and Governance in Guyana to 12 local youth enrolled in the course.
Conservation Officer, Allyson Stoll also attended a five day seminar on Field Archaeology at Iwokrama. The course was conducted by Archaeologist Dr. Mark Plew of Boise State University, USA. The prehistory of the Iwokrama conservation area was discussed in detail and the remarkable Kurupukari petroglyph and polissoir sites were documented.
Guyana’s Built Heritage
Artistry & Architecture: Pre Columbian – Post Colonial
The National Trust of Guyana launched an exhibition to commemorate Heritage Week 2002 on 23 September 2002 at the office of the Trust. Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Ms. Gail Teixeira delivered the main speech and declared the exhibition open. On display were a number of photographs representative of our diverse architectural heritage. The exhibition culminated on 24 October 2002.
Ebenzer Lutheran Church
The Ebenzer Lutheran Church at New Amsterdam is referred to as the ‘Mother church of Protestant Christendom in Guyana.’ It is reputededly the oldest Lutheran Church in South America. The first congregation of the Lutheran Church was organized on 15 October 1743 at the residence of Mr. Ladwig R. Abbesentts at Plantation La Solitude, a short distance from Fort Nassau on the Berbice River.
Following the organization of the congregation, the members applied to the consistory in Amsterdam, Holland for the appointment of a Reverend and for a building for religious instruction. On 15 October 1752 Reverend John Kendrick arrived at Fort Nassau.
The first services were held in the spacious mansion of Jan Rijman. Some years later a church was erected in the environs of the Fort Nassau complex. The Lutheran Church and its buildings were the only structures to survive the revolt of the enslaved Africans in 1763.
When the present town of New Amsterdam was laid out, the church was dismantled, placed on punts and floated down the Berbice River in 1779. Things were not always bright for the church as records indicate that there were eleven members; four males and seven females in 1866. The church was without a resident pastor since 1799 when, the last of the Dutch Clergies, Reverend H. W. P. Jumius died. The Lutheran brethren in Surinam were asked to allow their pastor to administer Holy Communion once per month. In 1876 Reverend J. R. Mittelholzer, after repeated trips from Surinam, was confirmed as the Resident Reverend of the church, where he served until his death in 1913.
The wooden structure which was transported from Fort Nassau incorporated many Romanesque features with wooden arches above the windows, a small octagonal tower and a steeply pitched gabled roof.
Over the door way the Latin words ‘Soli Deo Gloria’(to the glory of God) were inscribed as a reminder to the rich history of the structure. In 1964 this wooden church was replaced with a modern ferro concrete building. The new Ebenezer Lutheran Church was designed by the architectural firm of Mence & Moore under the direction of Mr. Patrick Barnes.
A church that was originally intended to serve a congregation of Dutch planters eventually became one which would provide service to all Guyanese. On Sunday, 26 July 1964, the sun shone brilliantly as pastors, members of the administrative council, church council, choir and congregation wended their way across the quadrangle of Lutheran Courts; from the old place of worship, the parish hall to the new ferro concrete structure for the service of dedication.