The Queen of the East, located on Crow Lane.
The Queen of the East, located on Crow Lane.

The National Trust has launched a last ditch bid to save one of Bermuda’s most historically significant buildings after its owners asked for permission to demolish it and turn it into a six-storey residential block.

The trust says it would be a “tragedy” if the Queen of the East was levelled and has appealed to the Department of Planning and the Environment Minister to revive the property’s ‘listed’ status.

The Queen of the East — pictured right, it was once used as a brothel — was built in 1740 by George Darrell and is the last surviving building of those originally built along Hamilton Harbour’s foreshore as part of the early settlement.

In the early 20th century the premises became a laundry and staff offered ‘additional services’ to sailors and soldiers giving the building its exotic name and reputation as a brothel.

The building had been a Grade I listed structure until 2007 when it lost listed status following a request from the agent for the owner.

The property at 26 Crow Lane has been for sale for several years, but on March 26 its owners applied for planning permission to demolish the existing structures.

The National Trust told the Bermuda Sun that it had filed an official objection to the Planning Department yesterday and provided a six-page document outlining its historical and architectural value.

A spokesperson said: “The Trust acknowledges that the Planning Act allows for the List to be amended, but the Act is silent on the process by which this should happen.

“In this instance the public and the National Trust were not provided the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process.

“As a consequence, we cannot be confident that the Queen of the East’s historical significance, architectural interest, age, rarity, aesthetic merits and state of repair were fully taken into account when it was removed from the List.”

In July 2011 a volunteer from the Bermuda National Trust commissioned and provided an engineering and condition survey of the Queen of the East.

It established that the house is not beyond repair and that the cost to restore it would be in the region of $600,000.

The spokesperson added: “The National Trust has long advocated for the preservation of this important building and, over the past 30 years, has actively explored many opportunities to save this remaining and central component of the historic settlement, The Lane.

“Sadly, however, we have so far been unsuccessful.

“Despite these difficult economic times, the Trust does not believe that the Queen of the East on the edge of Hamilton is without a viable future and believes it would be a tragedy for it to be demolished.”

The Bermuda Sun tried to make contact with the trust that owns the Queen of the East through its agent for comment, but none was forthcoming. n