An SOS from the Albert Lowe Museum

Eleven months after Hurricane Dorian, Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum is issuing an urgent plea for help to repair the extensive damage it sustained during the Category 5+ storm.

Thankfully, both the main house and the outside kitchen – two of Abaco’s oldest remaining structures – survived the hurricane. Unfortunately, however, both were critically damaged.   

Albert Lowe Museum, before Hurricane Dorian

Several large holes were left in the museum’s year-old cedar-shingled roof and half of the kitchen building roof (also new) is simply gone. 

Albert Lowe Museum, post Hurricane Dorian (February 2020)

At the height of Dorian’s assault, the western shutters on the museum’s second floor blew out and a number of windows were broken, allowing more water into the building.  

The museum’s original kitchen building, right after the 2018 installation of a new roof

In addition to the structural damage, a number of artifacts were ruined by moisture and/or the mold that soon followed.  

Though some emergency work has been done (the roof has been tarped, new posts installed to support the eastern porch roof, and Key West Cares kindly assisted in removing the wallpaper on which mold was forming,) no permanent repairs have yet been made.

Outdoor kitchen building, after Hurricane Dorian

With so many local homes damaged and destroyed, local contractors are understandably run off their feet. It will likely be years before they have the time to assist.

Earlier this year, we hoped that some of the foreign volunteers on the cay might help, but once the Covid-19 pandemic began, many returned home.

Essentially, the museum has two needs:

In the short term, we’re desperately seeking an experienced roofer to patch the roof, to at least dry in the museum until permanent repairs can be made.

For months, our entire museum team has been trying to find someone who can temporarily patch the roof to halt the ongoing leaks and water damage to the museum structure, floors and exhibits.

If you know of anyone who might be able to do the work, please let me know.

Tarps offer temporary relief at best, since the wind quickly shreds them and it’s virtually impossible to find someone to replace them.

Longer term, once the 2020 hurricane season is over, our goal is to begin the permanent repairs necessary to restore and reopen the museum.  

Both the main museum and outdoor kitchen roofs will need replacing. Damage to the museum’s exterior will need to be repaired, and several shutters will need to be replaced.

View of the outdoor kitchen through a broken second-story museum window

Both the eastern and western porches — the two main access points to the museum — will need reconstruction, and much of the picket fence needs to be rebuilt.

There are several holes — presumably made by flying debris — in the museum’s original wood siding.

The second-floor ceiling requires major repairs, and a number of badly warped floor boards will need replacing.

One of numerous holes in the museum’s roof and second-floor ceiling.

The interior walls, rough and bare after the moldy wallpaper was removed, must be sanded and repainted. It’s likely the electrical system will need repairs, if not full replacement. In the cellar, the moldy walls need to be removed and more mold remediation completed.  

Virtually all the museum’s interior walls will need sanding and painting, and the floors will need repair and refinishing.

Long story short, we estimate it will cost somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000 to restore the Albert Lowe Museum to its pre-Dorian state. And sadly, the museum’s maintenance account was all but drained in 2018, when we replaced the roofs, refinished the wood floors and undertook some other upgrades.

The museum team is looking for individual, corporate and/or institutional donations to assist with the necessary repairs and restoration. Here’s how you can help:

  • Contribute to the Albert Lowe Museum restoration fund at any First Caribbean branch in the Bahamas. (Account # 0001129711.) To wire funds from outside the Bahamas, see below for the necessary info. Contact me if you need any additional details, and if you do deposit direct to the bank account, please send me an email so we can confirm receipt.
RECIPIENT BANKFirst Caribbean International Bank (Bahamas) Limited
SWIFT CODEFCIBBSNS
RECIPIENT NAMEAlbert Lowe Museum
RECIPIENT ACCOUNT #0001129711
ABA CODE026005092 (Normally, ABA is only needed for domestic transfers)
  • Donations toward the Albert Lowe Museum may be also made through the Green Turtle Cay Foundation via their GoFundMe page or by mailing donations to the Green Turtle Cay Foundation, c/o Phillip Smith, Managing Director, 26736 US Highway 27, Suite 202 Leesburg, FL 34748. Whether you donate online or by mail, you must be sure to specify when you make your donation that the funds should be earmarked for the Albert Lowe Museum.
  • Outside the Bahamas, donations can also be sent to Alton Lowe, c/o 120 Champagne Court, Naples, FLA 34112.
  • Please share this post with anyone you can think of who may be in a position to donate funds or building materials.

Despite the many personal setbacks Alton has experienced due to Dorian — his home, art gallery and majority of his paintings were all destroyed — he remains committed to repairing and restoring the Albert Lowe Museum.

I’ll be honest — knowing how many people needed help fixing their homes, we’ve hesitated to put this call out before now.

But with every month that passes, the museum continues to leak, mold continues to spread and the structure and exhibits remain at risk.

Mold, the result of ongoing water intrusion after Hurricane Dorian, dots this formerly pristine hat

The Albert Lowe Museum was our country’s first museum. It houses hundreds of years of history and serves as a cornerstone of the local tourism industry and an important educational tool for Bahamian school children.

We hope you will agree that the museum – and the irreplaceable artifacts it houses — are worth saving.

Please help if you can. Have questions or need to know more? Get in touch any time.

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