Focus on cottages during Saba Monuments Day

This weekend, for the first time, Saba will be joining the Open Monument Days which have been organised in the European Netherlands since 1987. A wide variety of monuments ranging from historic forts, churches, dwellings and industrial monuments will be open to the public for an entire weekend.

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Cooperation between Dutch Cultural Heritage Association Heemschut and the Dutch Museum resulted in the first Open Monument weekend on Saba. This is at least remarkable, as Saba does not have an officially recognised list of monuments, in contrast with St. Eustatius and Bonaire.

Monuments are considered an important element of tangible heritage, and not only include buildings but also, for instance, graveyards, archaeological sites and protected rural and village areas.

The theme for the 2016 Open Monument Days is “Icons.” In the view of many the traditional cottages, built mainly between 1840 and 1900, are the icons of Saba. Because many Sabans knows these small dwellings not only from the outside, but also from the interior, the target group for Saba’s first Monument Days will be the tourist sector and not so much the local population.

Saba’s built-up areas are considered of great importance, also in connection with the island’s World Heritage nomination. This weekend’s Open Monument Days are also meant to draw attention to the need for preservation and to contribute to tourism.

A presentation on the characteristics and background of Saba’s traditional cottages, based on the study of Frans Brugman, will be on view at the Dutch Museum Saba in Windwardside today and on Sunday. Thirty-minute lectures will start at 9:30am on both days, to be followed by a walking tour through the area that, according to organisers, should be nominated as a protected village area.

The estimated 45-minute walk will lead past a number of traditional cottages. One of the smallest and most primitive cottages will be opened to the public by its owner.

Interior designer Judy Bobel will be giving explanations during the tour, which also includes the grounds of Harry L. Johnson Museum, which resembles a romantic English garden, but in fact, was designed by a German garden architect.

At Harry L. Johnson Museum, which is normally closed during the weekends, curator Jennifer Thielman will provide information about what once was one of the more luxurious cottages on Saba.

The Daily Herald.

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