Historic House Finds New Home
After months of planning, the Ministry of Culture saw the relocation of a traditional Caymanian style cottage from the early 1800s become a reality as it successfully reached its resting spot at the National Trust’s Mission House property in Bodden Town.
The Clayton Nixon house was originally located across from Citrus Grove, on Goring Avenue in George Town. The dwelling is named after a former owner and thought to have been constructed by his grandfather. The relocation was carried out by Miguel Brown of Green Iguana Construction Company. The process involved securing the house with plywood and transporting it on a flatbed truck.
The journey would not have been possible without the assistance of Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) and a Royal Cayman Islands Policy Service escort. CUC lines crew led by Ronnie Ramatour professionally carried out their job despite approximately six hours - some of which was in the heat of the daytime.
Minister for Culture, Hon. Dwayne Seymour praised efforts to relocate the historic home, which is on the National Trust’s Register of Historic Buildings and was in danger of being demolished due to the upcoming development of Citrus Grove II.
“The structure is one of the only remaining examples of an early home, and was possibly built and owned by a slave family. It is also a fine example of traditional Caymanian construction techniques with walls that include wattle and daub as well as limestone,” Mr Seymour explains.
Because of the home’s important heritage, the Ministry put together a group of stakeholders that met throughout the last half of 2018. In addition it conducted research to verify the historical value of the property, developed a medium-term plan for the relocation, and finally sought and obtained approval from Cabinet.
The stakeholders’ group included: NTCI Historic Programmes Manager Rhonda Cornwall (former) and Stuart Wilson (current), NTCI Chairman Andrew Gibb, NTCI Historical Preservation Committee members John Doak and Cathy Frazier, NTCI Volunteer Sue Gibb, and NCB Group property company representative (former) Ally McRae who brought the plight of the home to the group's attention, and Alan Wight."
Nancy Barnard stresses she is pleased the relocation has successfully taken place.
“Buildings like the Clayton Nixon home offer an invaluable porthole into our past. The Ministry is committed to preserving all relics of historical importance for future generations. I am thrilled we have been able to carry out the relocation successfully and offer my sincere thanks to the numerous stakeholders who have collaborated with us to ensure the home is preserved.”
“It has been wonderful to see the Ministry, several organisations and individuals work so hard over the past year to bring this project to successful fruition. 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," added Ms Nadia Hardie, Executive Director – National Trust.
Noting that there is currently no legislation to protect Caymanian built heritage, Acting Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie says that Government is considering whether this 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, which ties in with Policy Direction 5 Ensuring the place of Culture and Heritage in Development of the National Culture & Heritage Policy and Strategic Plan 2017-2026.
“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”, Ms Pouchie adds.
The Minister also thanked the developers' representative, the NCB Group, which will be developing the next phase of Citrus Grove, for their support and patience with the relocation project. “They had no hesitation in collaborating with this project. 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” stressed the Hon Minister.
A stepwell of historical value is also located on the Goring Avenue property, which the group hopes the developers will preserve on site.