Legacy protests against demolition of 161-year-old ‘Olaiya House’

Casa do Fernandez (Ilojo bar) before demolition PHOTO: TOM SAATER

Casa do Fernandez (Ilojo bar) before demolition PHOTO: TOM SAATER

Lagos-based historical and environmental interest group, Legacy, has kicked against the demolition a week ago of Olaiya House (or “Ilojo Bar”), which was in 1956 declared a national monument by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

It was initially named Casa do Fernandez before being renamed Ilojo Bar. The building was referred to as Olaiya House after it was sold to the Olaiya patriarch, Alfred Omolana Olaiya in 1933.

The Casa do Fernandez is located on 6, Alli and 2 Bamgbose Streets, CMS on the Lagos Island. T he structure, which overlooked the Tinubu Square, was built as a bar and restaurant in 1855.

But the 161-year-old monument came tumbling down on Sunday, 10th Spetember 2016, a move believed to have been influenced by the property’s change of ownership.

Legacy, however, is enraged over the development, insisting that the developers have broken the law and thus should be brought to book.

The President, Desmond Majekodunmi, stated: “This is a petition against people who have literally taken laws into their own hands. This is a fight for the sovereignty of the laws that form the basis of this country called Nigeria.

“Sunday, 10th September 2016 marks a dirty taint on the history of Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. It was the day ‘developers’, acting in total disregard for the constitution, tore down a 161-year old beauty that carried immeasurable value for the life and soul of a people. The building was the epitome of the Lagos Brazilian Style of architecture brought in by returnee slaves.

“Casa do Fernandez was declared a national monument in 1956 by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and is protected by National Commission for Museums and Monuments Act. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments has it boldly listed (No. 44) on their Monuments and Sites. So, what happened?”

The heritage group has made the following demands: The perpetrators of this dastardly act must be brought to book. We will not rest until they face the full wrath of the law.

Legacy has the full measured drawings of the original building to enable it to be reconstructed exactly as it was. And this is exactly what should be done.

The group is inviting visitors to the site to electronically sign the petition which, according to Majekodunmi, will be sent to the NCMM.

Besides identifying and singling out historical buildings, monuments and areas of the built environment for their contribution to the evolution, history and culture of Nigeria, Legacy also aims at preserving, restoring and reconstructing such monuments to ensure their continued enjoyment for the public.

Legacy aims to identify historical buildings, monuments and areas of the built environment which would be singled out for their contribution to the evolution, history and culture of Nigeria

It also promote the knowledge of both adults and children of such monuments and to provide a recorded legacy for future generations and engages in the preservation, restoration and reconstruction of such monuments, environments and cultural entities, manuscripts and objects to ensure their continued enjoyment for the public.

The group has established a central clearing house for records of all items of interest for the purposes of monitoring their maintenance, promoting their tourist potential and the interest of mankind. It also raise funds for the purpose of maintaining the work of the society and for expenditure on approved projects, research and related activities.



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