1940 today street view render plan section


Client: JOMA Properties Limited
Location: Road Town, Tortola
Date: 2008
Area: 4,000 sq. ft. approx.

History of the Building

The J. R. O'Neal fireproof building almost opposite the old prison, was the building that was christened fireproof after the 1853 riots that took place in Roadtown. This era was, for the population, a poor subsistence period and the locals relied on selling beef to the nearby metropolis of St. Thomas in order to survive. In an effort to raise revenue for the colony, the British administration decided to raise the tax on beef which created unrest amongst the local population. Folklore and, to some extent, the historical record, tell of a man who was chosen as a representative of the people marching to Government House in an effort to convince the Governor to change his mind. This did not happen and, after a brief struggle, the man was shot and killed by an over anxious guardsman. The people learnt of this tragedy and marched on the town from all over the countryside to claim retribution for the killing. The pompous British officials ignored the masses and a riot ensued. During the riot, buildings were ignited and before too long a major fire was raging in Road Town. It has been said that the only building to survive the fire was the stone constructed fireproof building which also had copper sheets protecting the wooden shutters. Consequently, the building survived and was written in local folklore as the ˜Fire proof Building.'

Proposed Uses for Restoration

During the plans for the newly constructed (2010) Commerce House, the owners preserved the historical Fireproof building with the intention of one day restoring it to its former glory on the exterior while providing an updated interior. At this time a cafe, theatre or office space has been designed for lease exploration with interested parties. As Main Street slowly renovates and updates itself, RDP envisages a great historical restoration will breathe life back into this area of town.