by Albert Paul Avila
To locate historic houses in Belize City you either know that they are historic houses or you know how to identify them. Letís say you donít know which of the houses are the historic ones. Let me share with you what to look for so you can identify them on your own and donít have to be a rocket scientist to do it.
Basically, there are four things to look for on these houses. One or a combination of these four things will identify about 90% of the houses. I will use the James Brodieís family house at the corner of Albert and Regents, the Salvation Headquarters on Regents Street, the Eusey House at the corner of South and Regents, and St. Johnís Cathedral as examples to demonstrate.
POSTS AND BEAMS
In the 1800s they did not have sawmills so the posts and beams that were used to construct houses were chipped into shape by hand. This method gave the posts and beams an unfinished and rough look. A good example of these types of posts and beams may be seen on the James Brodieís family house (green), located at the corner of Albert and Regents Street, across from the Anglican Cathedral. This house is a good example because it can be seen from the side of the street. The second attached photo will demonstrate how these type of posts look. If you ever get to go inside the ground floor of the Channel Five building you will find some really beautifully preserved beams in there.
Another feature to look for are the planks that were used as siding on the early houses. Sometimes you canít find this feature in some of the old houses because over time they were replaced with the newer tongue and groove or modern wooden sidings. However, some of the houses still have a portion of their walls with these old planks. These sidings can easily be identified because there are much wider than the tongue and grove sidings. These old sidings are about 12Ē inches wide and they will go end to end rather than having the top going under the plank above it. It will have a smooth look and in most occasions you will be able to see where the planks start and end. There are a few houses on Regents Street that have a portion of their walls with these sidings. However, for demonstration purpose, I will use the Salvation Armyís Headquarters to demonstrate. This building is a good example because it has both types of sidings and you will be able to compare both types easily (photo 4 brown house see arrows).
Because the old houses were using the plank sidings that were joined end to end there was a problem with water seeping into the house through the area where the planks met. The overlapping edges of the modern day tongue and grove design resolved this issue. However, to resolve the problem of having water seeping into the house during heavy rain, wooden overlapping shingles were fastened over the plank sidings. This resolved the issue with water seeping into the house between the planks. There are only three to five houses in the Belize City area that still have this feature. One of the houses is the Eusey House located at the corner of South and Regents Street (white photo 6).
The final of the four features to look for is red bricks. Due to issues with fire, one of the changes made to the administrative buildings was that they were constructed with bricks imported from England instead of wood. Not all building were completely constructed of bricks. There are only about ten buildings in the downtown area that are constructed entirely of bricks and they are: four buildings in the Holy Redeemerís property including the Cathedral, the building on Orange Street, Sikaffeyís, Anglican Cathedral, a warehouse on the Price Premiere Productís property, The DFC old office on Regents Street and the Welworth Store on Regents Street. There are a few other buildings including the Government House that have their foundation and their ground floors constructed of bricks. The example for this feature will be the Anglican Cathedral (photo 7).
So there you have it, take a ride around town and see how many houses you can identify.