At the beginning of January, Stichting Monumentenfonds Aruba (Aruba Monument Fund Foundation, SMFA) began big maintenance work on the exterior of the building that is now known as Algemene Rekenkamer Aruba, which is a monument known under the name of School 1888.
The building in Whilheliminastraat is part of the 16 monuments owned by SMFA, and the foundation is in charge of maintenance, and this building certainly is a big challenge for the foundation. In various occasions, investments were made in maintenance and in the short term deterioration was noticed on the building. This deterioration is probably caused by the change in material in the past, where it was switched over to plaster and cement which caused that the wall could not breathe and made the stones in the wall deteriorate little by little. Originally, the building was made using lime. For this reason, SMFA made the decision to test on the building, by substituting the existing plaster for a plaster based on lime. The paint that will be applied will also be based on lime, which will allow the wall to breathe.
In the last few years, SMFA carried out different research and courses regarding the technique of lime application together with experts from the United States as well as Trinidad and Tobago. In the projects for the Lime Kiln in Rancho and at the California Lighthouse, lime was used in order to go back to the original material and this is giving good results.
For this reason, the decision was made to apply this to the Monument School 1888 as well. Lime will be applied only on a portion of the façade, and the rest of the building will get regular maintenance as was done in the past, when blast furnace cement was used.
After different companies which participated in the courses for lime application in the past made an offer for the project, the maintenance work was entrusted to GPS Construction. Aside from this, a invitation was extended to other companies that want to observe the process so they can also experience the technique of plaster with lime.
The Monument School 1888 was built between 1887 and 1888 and was designed by the chief of the construction department in Curaçao, Antoine Martis, in a neoclassic style. Originally it was the first public school of Aruba. In 1921, the school received the name of Julianaschool, and after this it moved to Madurostraat, and the name was changed to Prinses Margrietschool in 1943. During World War II, the building served as defence barracks. The function of barracks brought a lot of change for the building, to which different new parts were constructed. Between 1953 and 1955 the old building was renovated and it became Public Reading Room and Library (Openbare Leeszaal en Boekerij) and after 1982 it served as government offices.
In 2005 the restoration and expansion of the building began, for which all non-original parts, that were not part of the protection of the monument, were removed and the building was expanded in a more modern style. For many years already it is the office of Algemene Rekenkamer Aruba (General Audit Chamber Aruba, ARA)
For the current maintenance project, ARA will remain in the building, and SMFA thanks the workers of ARA for the understanding and apologizes in advance for the inconvenience that may be caused by the maintenance work.
At the end of the project, they will have a beautiful monument once more to represent them. With this maintenance project, SMFA continues preserving the beautiful monument of School 1888 for the future.