144-year-old Doctor's House reopens on Seychellois island after facelift
The new and renovated doctor's house (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - After almost a year of being closed to visitors, the Doctor’s House -- described as one of the jewels on Curieuse IsIand -- has reopened.
The establishment, now a national monument, houses an exhibition on the historical, cultural and natural information of Curieuse Island.
Protected and managed by the Seychelles National Park Authority, (SNPA) since 1979, the exhibition is set to bring something extra to visitors on the tiny island, located only a few minutes from Praslin, the second-most populated island of Seychelles.
|School children takes a look at the display exhibited inside Doctor's House (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“Although heritage protection is not part of our core mandate, we are proud to have made this little contribution to Seychelles’ history,” stated Selby Remy, the chairperson of the board of SNPA.
A project costing around $66,400 (900,000 Seychelles Rupees) was launched to save the Doctor’s House, which was first built in 1873. This included a complete renovation of its roof, exterior and interior work, as well as wooden flooring and landscaping.
Following the renovation, the upper floor of the building has been converted into vibrant and colourful rooms with a display of the terrestrial landscape and maritime treasures of the island.
“We painted the murals on Mahe and then transported them here. It took us quite a while to turn it into what it is now,” says Allen Ernesta, who was amongst several artists who helped with the remodelling of the building’s interior.
The remodelling also includes new and colourful posters providing information about the island and its history. This part of the project cost $1,400 (20,000 Seychelles Rupees) and was sponsored by the Seychelles' national carrier, Air Seychelles.
|One of the display showcasing the island of Curieuse (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Creole-style building is among some remnants of the island’s history when Curieuse was used for the confinement of leprosy sufferers from 1829 to 1900, and again from 1937 to 1965. Their ordeal forms one of the saddest chapters in the history of the Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
It received its name Doctor’s House because it is where Scottish William Macgregor, one of several doctors in the colonial service stayed. Among his duties was taking care of the leprosy sufferers.
“This building is classified as a National Monument and thus is protected legally so that our history is kept for future generations,” says Miera Savy, the head of Seychelles Heritage Foundation.
Daily visitors to Curieuse can now not only indulge in the natural beauty of Curieuse such as its powdery beaches, great snorkelling spots and mangroves but also reminisce about the days when the island was a necessary exile for many of the islanders.