I refer to the feature in the Sunday edition (April 20) of the Stabroek News, ‘A deteriorating heritage building.’ It refers to the East Lothian House in Region 6. When I entered Region 6 to teach on a regular basis at the Berbice Campus of UG, my eyes caught this amazing aesthetic manifestation of 19th century architecture. It would fascinate anyone. Each Saturday, I would stop on my way to the campus and look at it.
One day I mustered up the courage to drive straight in and seek out the owner. I met him, Mr David Fraser, and asked him if he could host a tour of the house by my students. He agreed. What was surprising to me is that none of my twenty students had ever entered the compound much less seen the place. And they all wanted to see it.
Mr Fraser was one of the nicest hosts you could ever meet in this world. On our arrival, he was still in the process of spraying the large lawn for mosquitoes. He refused a financial offer to offset the cost of the insecticide saying that he felt that was his obligation to his visitors. He offered us snacks but the class had taken lunch with it. He described the history of his home then gave us a tour of the facilities. I asked him for any ancient books he had stacked up but he had no recollection of what was what and where to find the stuff. His sense of humour endeared him to the students.
I raised with Mr Fraser the possibility of preserving the structure, but he was frank about sparse funds and did indicate that he had only one kid in Guyana, a daughter who worked in the insurance business in New Amsterdam. I tried several times to contact her but was unsuccessful.
If I have any pleasant memories of Berbice both as a visitor and as a university lecturer they were the hours I spent with my students at East Lothian House. My visit took place thirteen years ago and since then I have never seen Mr Fraser again. Now that the Sunday Stabroek has carried a story of this wonderful piece of architecture, I intend to seek him out the next time I am in Berbice. If he reads this I hope he can have lunch with me. I hope he still enjoys good health. I close hoping that some source of funding can be found for this historical piece of Berbice and Guyana.