Mahe Shipping has donated SR20,000 to Island Conservation Society, managers of Aride Island Nature Reserve. Funds have been allocated towards the restoration of the island's historical plantation house.
The Plantation Lodge of Aride is one of the few surviving examples of the French Creole colonial architecture of Seychelles and the skills used by the early inhabitants to adapt their native materials and technologies and produce buildings adapted to local climatic conditions. It is an important part of the cultural heritage of Seychelles and its loss would be very regrettable.
The date of construction of the Aride Plantation Lodge is not known with certainty. Historical comparisons, for example, to the Silhouette plantation lodge and the Presidential house on La Digue, suggest the early twentieth century. In 1883 Aride was visited by Marianne North, who produced a famous painting of a Takamaka tree described as “the only shade in Ile Aride”. This shows the location, but with a few small houses and so, pre-dates the construction of the lodge.
The first private owners of Aride were the Lablache and Payet families. In 1874 the island passed to Nancy Chenard and in 1914 to Henri Chenard who owned it for nearly 60 years. It is almost certain the building was constructed by a member of the Chenard family. In 1973, Aride was purchased by Christopher Cadbury on behalf of Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. Aride was declared a Special Reserve in 1975. In 2004, the island was leased to Island Conservation Society of Seychelles.
The Lodge lies on the Aride coastal plateau, between the hill and the sea, separated from the staff houses (La Cour) by an avenue of trees. It is located well inland, facing south towards the sea, giving it an ideal location with a view towards the beach, but with sufficient shelter from the southeast monsoon winds. There is a well nearby, providing a supply of fresh water. Originally the immediate vicinity was cleared of vegetation, but this has now become overgrown.