q Reconstruction Challenges - Holy Trinity Cathedral

Reconstruction Challenges

to restore this historic building

The Holy Trinity Cathedral requires a $70M (TT) or $11M (US) repair, over the next 5 years, to restore this historic building.

We are asking our parishioners, donors, patrons, family and friends (both locally and internationally) to assist in this undertaking by making weekly, monthly and/or yearly donations to the “Holy Trinity Cathedral Restoration Fund.”

The Holy Trinity Cathedral, a National Heritage Site Asset of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago and architectural gem is in dire need of repair and refurbishment emanating out of damage from the 2018 earthquake which damaged the to the exterior and interior of the structure. 

The Cathedral was built in 1818 and is one of the city’s oldest surviving structures. Since its consecration in 1823, the Cathedral’s unique architectural merit and strategic geographical location in the heart of Port-of-Spain has been used for many historical and social events of deep importance in the history of our nation. 

The Right Reverend Claude Berkely, Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago said the Holy Trinity Cathedral is a magnificent spiritual home in the capital city and is of great significance to the tapestry of Trinidad and Tobago, he said, “The founders of our country and holders of the highest office in the land, have been at the heart of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church, including Governors, Presidents and Prime Ministers. The legendary Governor Woodford oversaw the construction and design of the Church and laid the cornerstone on May 30th 1816. Since 2018, the Cathedral has sustained devastating damage.” 

Reverend Dr. Shelley-Ann Tenia, Dean and Rector of the Cathedral stated the restoration and rehabilitation of the nearly 200-year-old building requires specialist contractors and artisans to restore it to its original state, and major repair work is needed in the areas of the roof/ceiling; interior walls; exterior walls; stained glass windows; flooring; bells; organs and various electrical, mechanical and plumbing fixtures. According to her, there is moisture trapped within the walls and structural timbers which has resulted in rotting and significant damage, “The Cathedral continues to suffer from major leaks with numerous broken roof slates, cracked gutters, and failing old repairs that need serious attention. Vegetation growth has caused cracking and further deterioration of the structure, and the Church’s roof also suffers from termite damage.” 

She revealed the earthquakes in 1825, 1918, and more recently 2018 caused substantial cracking and damage to walls, the steeple, and chancel roof, as well as the destruction of several stone pinnacles.

Chairman of the Diocesan Committee Selby Browne thanked the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for its allocation of $20 million to assist and said while some costs were met through the Church’s fundraising activities, additional funds are needed to aid in the repair. He said, “The Cathedral continues to suffer from a host of minor and superficial damages that may, if left unattended, will contribute to further severe impacts in the future.”   

Approximately 70 million dollars is needed to restore the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Bishop Berkley issued an appeal for donations. “This majestic landmark which has been the site of so much of our islands’ rich history must be preserved, to tell our nation’s story and to continue as a bastion spiritual enlightenment, and community service. With this in mind, please help us restore the Holy Cathedral to its former glory.”

“Thank you in advance for contributing to this Heritage Site, Asset of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago to continue the historical proud legacy for the next two hundred centuries,” Bishop Berkely said. 

We Must Restore

The Cathedral has been severely affected by seismic activity on three occasions throughout its history, on September 20, 1825, February 24, 1918 and August 21, 2018. These earthquakes have caused structural cracking of wall segments, substantial damage to the steeple and chancel roof and the destruction of several stone pinnacles.

Predominantly limestone structures like the Cathedral accommodate the unrestricted movement and dispersal of moisture through its materials to perform effectively. At some point in history concrete render and latex base paint were applied to the internal walls. Over many years moisture trapped within the material resulted in render spalling and damage to the underlying material. This moisture rots adjoining structural timbers.

The Cathedral also suffers from major leaks. There are numerous broken roof slates, cracked gutters, and failing old repairs that need serious attention.

Vegetation holds moisture against buildings and causes chemical deterioration of building materials. Even the growth of such small plants as mosses and lichens on historic buildings has a similar detrimental effect.

Finally, substantial vegetation growth can hide problems in the underlying wall, such as cracking or loss of mortar caused by settlement. Some plants also have invasive roots, which over time may cause superficial and even structural damage. Some exterior surfaces of the Cathedral have been invaded by shrubs, moss and lichen. The hammerbeam trusses of the Cathedral’s roof have also suffered from termite damage.

The Cathedral also suffers from a host of minor and superficial issues that may, if left unchecked, cause severe impacts in the future. Stained Glass panels are missing or damaged in several places.

The Cathedral’s masonry and other architectural details are also in need of urgent repair in some areas.

Help Us Rebuild

All donations received will go towards the reconstruction of: