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Gingerbread Houses in Port-au-Prince

05/17/2016

Gingerbread houses are not just those of the candy variety, but a kind of beautiful and characteristic architectural style of family homes constructed in Haiti at the turn of the 20th century. These iconic structures have an interesting and eclectic origin. Undoubtedly influenced by Victorian style, clearly seen in their sweeping wrap-around porches and turret roofs, many of these structures were built by returning Haitian architects after having studied in Paris. In addition to the European techniques, the gingerbread homes of Port-au-Prince demonstrate an understanding of the country’s unique Caribbean climate. The high ceilings draw hot air upwards, away from the living space, the windows on every side allow cross breezes even during the hottest days, and the wooden frames are able to withstand harsh tropical storms. In fact, these century-old homes fared better during the devastating 2010 earthquake than did many of the more modern concrete structures. These intricately adorned and uniquely Haitian homes became popular within the city’s nobility in the late 1900s. To this day, around 200 of the homes remain, with their grand staircases leading up to the front door and the curved tops of wooden doors and windows evoking the grandeur of a different era. Conservation efforts are in place today, led by the Haitian nonprofit Knowledge & Freedom Foundation, or FOKAL, to restore the homes, many of which are in disrepair, to their former splendor. Local craftsmen are being trained in the masonry and carpentry skills necessary for the task, skills which had been largely abandoned when contemporary cement blocks replaced wood, bricks and lime mortar as building materials. The restoration process is a slow and difficult one, but thanks to the efforts of FOKAL and the support from the World Monuments Fund, these beautiful pieces of Haitian heritage may be saved and enjoyed by generations to come.

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  • “Oasis”

    Located off the central town square it has good security and is the obvious expat place to stay. Nice garden breakfast area near a well received pool. Tranquil after the huddle and bustle outside. Rooms are clean, beds are very comfortable and the hot showers a blessing.

    – Harlequin_dreaming

  • “Great Stay”

    Great experience. All the staff was very helpful and the rooms were very clean. Vladimir and James were very supportive and helpful as well. The front desk and restaurant was high class. We will definitely be back.

    – Tyler S

  • “Great Haitian atmosphere”

    We really enjoyed this property. The staff was very friendly and even went out of their way to accommodate us, by letting us check in early after flying all night. The atmosphere was very laid back just as most Haitians are.

    – Gregory C

  • “Highly Recommended”

    A very pleasant atmosphere and helpful staff greeted me upon arrival. Vladimir, who quickly handled my special requests, was especially helpful. I would definitely stay here again and would recommend this hotel for all travelers, whether on business or vacation.

    – Matthew W

  • “PG from Florida”

    I really enjoyed the family atmosphere at Leplaza hotel . Every single staff was very nice courteous, helpful , professional from the security guards to the receptionists , the staffs at the bar and restaurant . I had the greatest times of my life because everyone make feels at home especially at the reception and the bar- restaurant . I strongly recommend Leplaza Hotel . My rooms were nicely cleaned daily . I want to go back soon because they made me feel special . I want to thank all the staff about their warm welcome .

    – PPGedeon