July 14, 2012

0278 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (Trinidad) – Stollmeyer's Castle

In the 1830s, among the more than 80,000 inhabitants who lived in Philadelphia was Conrad F. Stolmmeyer, a German immigrant who edited a German language newspaper. Because of his anti slavery activity, he had to leave the United States, originally intending to set up a Utopian community in South America, with the German American philosopher John Adolphus Etzler (1791-1846?), who published in 1833 the book The Paradise within the Reach of all Men, without Labor, by Powers of Nature and Machinery: An Address to all intelligent men, in two parts.  Due to plague, they couldn't land in Caracas and settled in Trinidad.

Even if he made a successful business out of initially scrap metal and laundry, later finding oil in the south of the Island and buying land, hasn't changed his beliefs, naming his son after the french philosopher Charles Fourier. Charles Fourier Stollmeyer developed his father's business, becoming a successful contractor and manufacturer of asphalt, and on the early 20th century decided to build a retirement home for him and his wife. The house was constructed from 1902 to 1904 on the site of a former government stock farm, in Port-of-Spain.

The building was designed by the architect Robert Gillies, the Scottish influence being predominant in the design, which was reportedly patterned after a wing of Balmoral Castle, the well known residence of the British Royal Family. A detailed architectural description of Stollmeyer’s was given by local historian Olga Mavrogordato in her book, Voices in the Street. She wrote: “...the building is of imported brick, trimmed with hand-hewn limestone, and the marble on the gallery which surrounds the ground floor was imported from Italy. The ceilings on the ground floor are of plaster of Paris, and the gesso work of an Italian craftsman, add to the charm of these well-proportioned rooms."

Charles Fourier Stollmeyer and his wife didn’t live ever in this castle, because they didn't approve of its elaborate style, but their son, Conrad C. Stollmeyer, resided there with his wife, who named it Killarney. In the 1940s, the U.S. military used the home for its operations, naming it "Stollmeyer's Castle", or simply "the Castle". In 1971, after Conrad Stollmeyer and his wife died (he in 1965, and she in 1969), their son, Dr. John Stollmeyer, opened the house for the public, and a year later sold it for $215,000 to an insurance executive, Jesse Henry A Mahabir. In 1979, the building was sold again, to Trinidad and Tobago's government, and at present it's unoccupied. Meanwhile it was placed under the care of Citizens for Conservation, which undertook restoration work.

In nowadays Stollmeyer's Castle is considered a landmark for Port-of-Spain, and is part of the Magnificent Seven, a group of late Victorian and Edwardian buildings built in an eccentric and flamboyant variety of styles, in the western edge of the Queen's Park Savannah, along Maraval Road.

The stamp is identical to the ones of the first three postcards, but yet I couldn't find anything about it.

History of the Stollmeyer's Castle in Trinidad – eHow Home
The rich history of Whitehall and Stollmeyer's Castle – Newsday
Stollmeyer family – ancestry.com

sender: Nalini Mohammed (direct swap)
sent from San Fernando (Trinidad and Tobago), on 08.05.2012

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