Belmont is the Lastic House. Built in 1895 by Captain Lastic, it has a prominent position in the capital of Castries and is visible from the harbour, from Government House and from Brazil St., the Castries thoroughfare that flanks the Cathedral. Captain Lastic, a local man, was in the coaling business.
Castries is a deep water port. In the 19th century, coaling vessels from England and North America called to deliver their precious cargo. From his wide verandah atop Lastic Hill with its magnificent view of the harbour, Mr. Lastic could see the ships approaching and, as in a passage from Lord Jim, would dispatch one of his water agents under sail, steam or oars to race to the ship and make the arrangements for the rights to its cargo. Captain Lastic prospered. He owned a significant area of East Castries, and Belmont, his gracious, charming house, sits near the top of the hill that would eventually bear his name.
Belmont was constructed of cured green heart, a dense tropical wood that is resistant to insects and humidity. Much of the original construction was assembled with dowels and legs, not nails. The roof is galvanised metal. The wooden house sits on a raised concrete arcaded plinth. The ground floor is surrounded by a wide 360 degree verandah. The doors, shutters, louvers, and floors are original.
In 115 years Belmont has had only four owners, among them the Lastics, the archdiocese of Castries, to whom the Lastics bequeathed their house and land, and the present owner who has spent twenty-seven years conserving the house and the eight and a half acres that form its park. Belmont is an astonishing survivor with much of its original woodwork, wainscotting, verandah tiles, louvers, carved decorative transoms, long doors painted in trompe l'oeil, gas light fixtures, gingerbread detail, massive mahogany staircase and wide plank hardwood floors intact. It is certainly the best preserved large Creole house in St. Lucia and would rate as one of the finest Creole houses in the Eastern Caribbean.
The house was sited to take full advantage of the trade winds which blow from the northeast almost every day of the year affording a natural consistent ventilation. No central air conditioning is required. The original louvered windows jalousies are extant on the ground floor as are the large shutters which secure the house in time of storm. A massive, original concrete water holding tank (as well as mains water) keeps Belmont well provided through the year. There is an excellent drainage system.
Belmont's verdant eight and a half acre park adjoins the considerable lands of Saint Joseph's Convent and girls' secondary school, precluding any development. The park is lush and hardwood trees, medicinal plants and trees, decorative trees, fruit trees and rare palm trees abound. The majestic local white cedars for which this area of Castries is named flourish to the rear of the house as do mahogany, silk cotton, six varietis of mangoes, varieties of palm from sago to gwi-gwi to talls. There are giant bamboo groves, golden apple trees, tamarind trees, breadfruit trees, windflowers, orchids and wild orchids. The park is a refuge for rare birds.
The ground floor: a wide central corridor divides the ground floor. At one end is a glazed double door which gives onto the veranah. At the other is a solid mahogany staircase. Spindled openings beneath the staircase and on the stairwell landing permit the free circulation of air. To the right of the stairwell is a formal dining room with its original panelling, original brass Art Nouveau ceiling fixture, louvered windows and a double louvered door giving onto the verandah. A pair of carved solid mahogany folding doors open to the living room. Three electrified brass sconces of the Art Nouveau period illuminate the dining room.
The living room has its lovely original wainscotting and brass art nouveau sconces. A double door opens to the verandah and tall double doors open to the central corridor. Four sash windows flood the room with light.
On the other side of the central corridor are the kitchen, a larder and a library/study with bath.
The kitchen overlooks a Julie mango tree covered in orchids. The library/study bath has its own door to the verandah, and a louvered double door in the kitchen also opens to the verandah.
Each tall door that gives on to the central corridor from the kitchen, the larder, the living room and the study is decorated in the original trompe l'oeil. Each has the acanthus leaf plus star carved transom which is the motif of the house. The library has original louvered windows on the ravine side.
The second floor has a central corridor, a characteristic of West Indian Creole houses where they are used as rooms. At either end of the corridor is a large sash window permitting natural circulation of the trade winds. Two bedrooms flank each side of the corridor. Each bedroom has a walk-in closet. The walk-in closet in the master bedroom has been converted to a bath. The two bedrooms on the west side of the house and the central corridor window have superb views of Castries harbour beneath five dormers. The two bedrooms on the northeast side look onto the park.
The attic: the large attic has its original swivel windows and a magnificent view of the city, Castries Harbour, and the Vigie peninsula and lighthouse.
Outbuildings: a small guest house, a laundry, the original bathhouse, gardener's house and bath, a garage.
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