Mission House project a go

Hurricane Ivan was a blessing in disguise for the historic, termite-ridden Bodden Town Mission House.

Reduced to rubble, it has helped National Trust members make up their minds whether to renovate, rebuild or scrap the whole project.

Findings by Chalmers Gibbs Martin Joseph in May 2004 suggested that the sensible thing to do was to bulldoze it and start all over again but that was not an option at the time.

Based on an initial survey carried out at the site on 23 July, there was very little original wattle and daub and wooden walls that could be saved. But that is still not stopping Trust members from going ahead with the project.

With drawings already in the making, the Trust’s Historic Committee has made it their main priority to rebuild the Mission House.

‘The few good pieces that are saved from the old building will be collected and preserved to be incorporated into the new structure for display purposes,’ said National Trust chairperson Carla Reid.

‘It is intended that a team of volunteers dismantle and store the original rafters and pearlings for use in the reconstruction.

‘It is also intended that a number of iron wood posts which are still in good condition will be preserved and reused.’

After carefully selecting the materials to be saved, appropriate heavy equipment will be needed to remove and dispose of the debris.

‘Following this, the site will be treated for termites so that reconstruction can commence as soon as the necessary planning permissions have been granted and materials have been sourced,’ she said.

‘The funds are still in place and protected and are solely for the purpose of the mission house, and that is what they will be used for,’ said Ms Reid.

Under consideration is whether it is feasible to reconstruct the building using original materials and methods at least for a portion of the building, or alternatively to reconstruct an outright replica using new materials and incorporating displays and examples of the original materials and methods.

Although there is much work to be done behind the scenes, it is hoped that work can begin early next year, she said.