Historic house moved from path of development

| 07/01/2020 | 22 Comments

(CNS): The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has provided a new site for one of Cayman’s last remaining historic homes. In partnership with the culture ministry, the Trust has moved the Clayton Nixon House, which was built in the early 1800’s on what is now Goring Avenue, and relocated it to its Mission House property in Bodden Town. The traditional Caymanian-style cottage is on the Trust’s register of historic buildings and was in danger of demolition to make way for new development.

The Cayman Islands currently has no legal protection for historic properties and as a result has lost almost all of is built heritage. But after months of planning, government officials and the Trust joined forces to save this significant property, which is a now very rare example of historic construction techniques, with walls of wattle and daub as well as limestone. It may also have been built and owned by a slave family, adding to its cultural and historic significance.

Nadia Hardie, the National Trust’s executive director, explained that several stakeholders and organisations were involved in the project over the past year, such as research work, confirming the home’s historic value and working on plans to move it. “It really took a ‘village’ to save this historical property and we are ecstatic that all the work has resulted in the preservation of this important home,” she said.

Nancy Barnard, the deputy chief officer in the ministry, said buildings like this offer a porthole into our past and the ministry was “committed to preserving all relics of historical importance for future generations”, as she thanked all those involved who helped to save it.

While the Ministry of Culture funded this relocation, past governments have had a terrible track record in preserving historic buildings. This one was in the line of fire from developers about to embark on phase 2 of Citrus Grove and it was the developers themselves who alerted government to the threat.

Acting Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie said government is now considering whether the lack of legal protections can be addressed under the National Development Plan and the National Culture and Heritage Policy.

“In the interim, ad hoc approvals such as this will be supported by the ministry,” she said. “The Cayman Islands has developed so quickly over the past several decades that we have lost some irreplaceable historical structures and others are still at risk today. Through the National Culture and Heritage Policy the ministry hopes to ensure appropriate levels of protection for these historic buildings, which are so important to preserving our Caymanian heritage.”

The logistics of the relocation, which happened on Sunday, required help and support from the police, CUC and local construction experts. It was moved by Miguel Brown of Green Iguana Construction Company, which secured the house with plywood and transported it on a flatbed truck.

Along the journey a CUC lines crew, led by Ronnie Ramatour, held up the power lines all along the way to allow the structure to pass underneath, which took around six hours. The truck was also supported by an RCIPS escort.

The entire project was orchestrated by a stakeholders’ group including the Trust’s former historic programmes manager, Rhonda Cornwall, and the current manager, Stuart Wilson, Chairman Andrew Gibb, preservation committee members John Doak and Cathy Frazier, volunteer Sue Gibb and Ally McRae from NCB, who raised the plight of the home in the first place.

NCB will be developing the next phase of Citrus Grove and culture minister Dwayne Seymour thanked them for their patience over the relocation.

“They had no hesitation in collaborating with this project,” Seymour said. “The built heritage of the Cayman Islands contributes to our understanding of ourselves and to our quality of life. We believe it is one of our country’s most important cultural assets,” he added.

Officials from the ministry also said that a stepwell of historical value is located on the Goring Avenue site and it is hoped the developer will preserve that in situ during the development.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    You want tourism? For who? For what reason? Would it not be sensible to push tourism East so that an already transportation industry could make a living? The transportation industry that allows tourists to talk to local people? You don’t find any local people in hotels. The ones they hire are very young, no experience.

  2. Anonymous says:

    this whole island is for sale. caymanians slowly being pushed out

  3. Anonymous says:

    They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “and as a result has lost almost all of is built heritage” – just sums up today’s islands culture.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Moron 8/1/9:49am. Who said anything “anti-dart”? I was simply stating a fact!

  6. Anonymous says:

    “They had no hesitation in collaborating with this project,” Seymour said. “The built heritage of the Cayman Islands contributes to our understanding of ourselves and to our quality of life. We believe it is one of our country’s most important cultural assets,” he added.

    Show us that you really believe that Dwayne! Push legislative changes asap to protect what little we have left. That will be in the interests of all Caymanians.

    If you don’t, we will see your comments as typical insincere political BS.

  7. Historian says:

    Better to have repaired the house and left it in place; the developers could find another piece of land to erect their next monstrosity.
    We need a system of ‘listed buildings’ to protect old structures BUT a means of funding the preservation will have to be found.

  8. Anonymous says:

    one person’s tin roof shack…is another persons ‘historical building’.
    who said cayman lacks real heritage and culture????

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good thing this house was not located nor was it going north of Camana Bay. How exactly would they get through the tunnels?

    I guess no one thinks that there will ever, ever be an oversize load going north of CB!

    • Anonymous says:

      first ‘tunnels’… were hyatt and ritz overpasses when there was no by-pass.
      camana bay tunnels can be got around….
      better luck next time on your anti-dart nonsense.

      • Anonymous says:

        You can get around the tunnels? By driving that load through the middle of Camana Bay?

        • Anonymous says:

          yes..the roads are more than wide enough. thats what happens when first world developers build first class developments.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cayman doesn’t have a law protecting historical sites?? No wonder there’s hardly any old buildings in town, they’ve all been demolished carelessly! I’m grateful for the trust protecting what we have left!

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean like the turtle nesting beach at Beach Bay?

      • JTB says:

        What a sad sack you are.

        Sniping from behind your keyboard at people who try to do some good. The National Trust is a membership organisation run by volunteers, which did all it could, within the confines of the law, to protect Beach Bay. If you think you could do better, get off your fat behind and join the Trust, stand for election and show us.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t they relocate it to Beach Bay instead?

    • Anonymous says:

      What significance is it to Bodden Town? It should’ve been on display in George Town, so they could appreciate the history, and tourist would have something to see. Revitalize George Town, really!

      • Anonymous says:

        Now only if we could move the dump out there….

      • Anonymous says:

        Yup. This is the problem when the Government has no vision. Its left to groups like the Trust to do the best they can. (Why BT? Probably because that’s where the Trust had a property with space. Sometimes its not what’s best, but what’s the best you can do.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes it would have been best kept in GT but sadly no land to put it on. It appears the Trust offered to give it a home which although not perfect, at least saves it from destruction. Laws must be changed to protect what is left of our historic properties.

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