The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Censu Tabone former residence in St Julian’s given highest protection status

Wednesday, 5 February 2020, 09:47 Last update: about 20 days ago

A late 19th-century residential property which has a unique neoclassical theatre in its garden has been formally recognised as a Grade 1 building by the Planning Authority. It is the highest protection status afforded to a building, the PA said.

The property beloned for former President Censu Tabone.

The property in Triq il-Karmnu, St Julians, close to the Lapsi Chapel is considered to be one of the earliest properties in the area. Of significant importance is a historic open-air theatre in the back garden of the property. According to historical documentation, Teatru Melita as it was known was built around the year 1870 and is considered to be the oldest surviving theatre of any kind in the Tas- Sliema and St. Julians area. The theatre started to be frequented by people who spent their summer holidays in the area, which was predominantly a summer resort amongst a few farmers and a small community of fishermen.

Apart from theatrical performances and lectures, cinema films were occasionally also screened there. It is evident that this theatre played an important role in the growth of making theatre a popular platform of entertainment in Malta. It also served as the birthplace of the most important theatre company of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Malta, the Kumpanija L’Indipendenza, made famous by Mikelang Borg.

The residential part of the property also exhibits significant vernacular architectural elements and features that are synonymous with traditional Maltese townhouses and urban conservation areas. This late 19th-century building was the residence of the fourth Maltese president, Dr Vincent (Censu) Tabone, and his wife, Maria Tabone. 

The Planning Authority in consultation with the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage scheduled the property as Grade 1 in view of its architectural value as well as its historical, political and social significance associated with the theatre and the person of Dr Tabone.

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