Who was Joseph Salvatori? He was an influential businessman whose work left TT with two landmarks: the Salvatori building and Mille Fleurs. Some will remember the Salvatori building as a landmark in Port of Spain, on the corner of Independence Square and Frederick Street.
Mille Fleurs is located in Queen’s Park West, in Port of Spain.
Salvatori was born in France in 1880 and arrived in TT in 1910, the National Archives website said. He died in 1959.
Salvatori’s story and his importance to TT is told in the book SALVATORI. A Corsu In Trinidad.
The book launch will take place on November 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and a related exhibition will take place from November 19 to 25.
The TT National Archives website says the Salvatori building was built in 1961.
âIt was owned by Salvatori, Scott and Company, a company founded by Joseph Henry Salvatori. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building in the city.
The original building was a general store with three floors and 15 separate departments, according to the website. When the company closed in 1970, it became the headquarters of several government agencies and ministries, shops and a post office on the ground floor. It was demolished in 2006.
What started as a family project has evolved into a larger historical record.
Family representative Lorraine O’Connor – Salvatori’s great-granddaughter – said she always wondered who he was and why he was so special.
She said in a telephone interview: “Because there was the Salvatori building, I know he lived in Mille Fleurs. I saw medals and letters signed by General de Gaulle (the late officer of French army and statesman Charles de Gaulle) on my grandfather’s walls framed like a growing child.
âI’ve always been curious about this. I met Felicia Chang (Founder of Plantain) and, aware of the work they were doing, I said to them, ‘Listen, let’s dive into this story and find out more. Why did he leave Corsica? What happened when he fell here?
“How could he – if they say he was a poor farmer in Corsica – how did he get so rich and live in this beautiful house?” “”
Plantain is a genealogy and family ancestry research company.
âLiterally, they spent a year doing the research, interviewing existing family members who are still alive and compiling and putting them together,â O’Connor said.
Initially, the Salvatori family had commissioned Plantain to write and publish the book for them as a âprivate matterâ.
âBut when we got the book in our hands and read the storyâ¦ my kids and all said to me, ‘Mum, this is too big, you have to spread the word. You have to let people know who Joseph Salvatori was.
The initial project started in 2018 and 60 books were initially printed for the family.
A new version was produced for the public this year. This is the book that will be launched on November 18.
The launch takes place at Mille Fleurs, the house where Salvatori and his wife Cecilia lived.
âFortunately, Mille Fleurs has been restored over the past year and we can have the launch at Mille Fleurs, which is so beautiful because it was their home for over 50 years,â said O’Connor.
Not only is Salvatori’s story documented in a book, but O’Connor also plans to document his life and work through a major feature film. She is a film producer and is currently working on the screenplay.
She submitted the incomplete script to a competition last year and was selected to attend a workshop for three weeks, which was a big incentive for her to continue. By the middle of next year, she hopes to start script shopping and research production companies.
She also hopes to access the collective public consciousness and hear from people who remember what it was like to shop at the Salvatori Building.
âNow there is only one parking lot. What would be interesting is to tap into people’s memories to go back to the days when it was a department store.
Along with the many people who were instrumental in publishing the book, O’Connor also thanked the National Trust for supporting businesses like these and caring about TT’s national treasures like Thousand Flowers.
âWe don’t know these things. It is not taught in our schools. We are taught a story that has nothing to do with who we are as a people most of the time.
O’Connor believes that not enough is being done to teach the children of TT about personal stories of national significance like Salvatori’s.
âNobody knows who Joseph Salvatori is, the work he did. He was one of the biggest contributors to Free France during WWII. One of the biggest contributors to the Caribbean is that is, he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to liberate La France. “