Category: Architectural Preservation

The Beginning of Our Fish Hooks Journey (aka the Most Stressful Day of my Life)

Last week, when I published the latest Fish Hooks restoration update, I included a “before” photo of the house, as well as a more recent image.

Fish Hooks “Before” – January 2006

Several people pointed out that the yard looks so much larger in the current photograph, and asked whether we moved the house.

Fish Hooks – July 2017

I realized that a lot of Little House by the Ferry readers who’ve joined us more recently may not know about the day in January 2014 when we first began our Fish Hooks journey.

Fish Hooks Restoration Update: Summer 2017

In hindsight, adding a porch to Fish Hooks might have been a mistake. Not that there’s anything wrong with the porch. It’s just that now, all Tom and I want to do is sit and enjoy it!

Our favourite room at Fish Hooks – the front porch!

That, combined with the fact that Tom hasn’t had a ton of free time over the past year, means we haven’t gotten as much done on the house recently as we would have liked. So earlier this year, when he was able to get a whole month off, we were determined to get back on track.

Won’t You Be Our Neighbour?

Before Tom and I bought Fish Hooks, our home-away-from-home on Green Turtle Cay was Roberts Cottages in Black Sound. Having stayed in all three cottages at one time or another, we love them all. Though they’re conveniently located a two-minute walk from “town”, they’re incredibly private and quiet, nestled within the trees at the water’s edge.

Roberts Cottages on Black Sound

Roberts Cottages, Green Turtle Cay

I must admit, when the time came to move into our own place, I felt some last-minute pangs.

Would we miss the peace and privacy of Black Sound? Living across from the ferry dock, would it feel as if we were in a fish bowl?

The short answers? No and no. The truth is we’ve gotten to know many more local folks than we did before. And we have a delightful front-row seat to island life.

Fish Hooks Restoration Update: My Handy Husband

One of my greatest worries about moving into Fish Hooks during our ongoing restoration was creepy-crawly things.  Ants, sand flies, mosquitoes, lizards, roaches, spiders, bees, wasps, spiders, centipedes, scorpions – the list is endless.

Other than its original wood shutters, our little house had no windows or doors. And — for the time being — the ocean breeze is our only air conditioning. Keeping the shutters closed is simply not an option.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, restoration, screen door

To repel unwelcome visitors until we install proper windows and doors, I bought a roll of screen, cut rectangles to size and attached them to the insides of the window frames with Velcro. The doorways, however, presented a much greater challenge.

We had found a couple of screen doors in the attic, but when the time came to use them, they were in worse shape than we’d thought. And in any case, the house had shifted slightly during the move, so these old doors no longer fit.

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, since the local hardware stores stock screen doors. In the case of Fish Hooks, however, there are few straight lines or square angles. Not a single opening is standard size. In the end, our only choice was for Tom to custom-make three screen doors. He fashioned a sturdy workbench from an old wooden door and got to it. bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, restoration, screen door

For the next few days, he worked from morning until dusk. Without the necessary power tools, he did much of the work — including chiseling 36 pieces of wood for 18 lap joints — by hand. To ensure a perfect fit, he assembled the doors vertically within their respective, imperfectly shaped frames.  bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, restoration, screen door

After sanding, priming and painting the doors and installing screens, he finished them off with moldings and hardware. He even installed pneumatic closers to ensure the doors would close automatically — keeping the bugs out and Wrigley in.   bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, restoration, screen door

Now I knew Tom was handy, and that he enjoyed woodwork. Even so, I was amazed at his attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship. And it wasn’t just me. Several local folks actually stopped by to admire our screen doors and ask whether Tom was taking orders. (Great to know he’s got a Plan B if the whole television thing doesn’t work out.)

Funny enough, while working outside on these doors, Tom said he wasn’t bothered by a single sand fly or mosquito. Still, as the household member who’s apparently irresistible to all sorts of stinging and biting pests, I can’t thank him enough for his wonderful work.

His screen doors having been a resounding success, Tom plans to tackle kitchen cabinets on our next trip. Stay tuned! bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, restoration, screen door

A Few Updates…

Tom and I are back on Green Turtle Cay, and excited to continue with our Fish Hooks restoration. We’ve got lots of projects planned for the next few weeks and will be posting updates as we go.

In the meantime, here are some follow ups to previous blog posts:

Another Island Home Saved…

We finally got to meet our new Green Turtle Cay neighbors, Drew and Penny Roberts, whose recently restored home, Salty Dog, is just around the corner from Fish Hooks. I posted last trip about how beautiful their island home looks now that it’s been restored. Judging from the photos below, which Drew recently sent to me, the interior is just as charming. For more information, or to rent Salty Dog, call (242) 365-4047.

Mo-Mo’s Suga’ Shack…

Now that we’re back on the cay, we’ve noticed the lights burning well into the night at Mo-Mo’s Suga’ Shack. Mo-Mo (aka Melissa Albury) reports that the bakery, which opened this past February, is doing well and keeping her busy.

She’s recently added coconut bread and quiche to her menu, and established store hours as follows: Monday through Thursday: 7am – 9pm, Friday: 7am – 9:30pm, Saturday: 9am – 10pm, Sunday: Closed.


The Story of the Albert Lowe Museum

During my last visit to Green Turtle Cay, I had a long chat with Bahamian artist Alton Lowe about the Albert Lowe Museum — specifically, the structure in which it’s housed. Turns out that the museum building’s history is as fascinating as the artifacts displayed inside.

Albert Lowe Museum, Abaco, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

Albert Lowe Museum, Green Turtle Cay

Built in 1825 by the Roberts family (who owned a department store on the property where Sid’s Grocery is now located), this two-story Loyalist home features traditional gingerbread-trimmed porches, dormer windows and one of the only cellars on the cay.

Upstairs Bedroom at Museum

Upstairs Bedroom in the Albert Lowe Museum
Photo by Tom Walters

As was common at the time, the house has a separate kitchen building (which remains fully functional), as well as a four-hole latrine. The latter was an indication of the family’s wealth, since it offered correctly sized holes for men, women and children.

Kitchen Building

Separate Kitchen and Latrine Building – Albert Lowe Museum

During the 19th century, when wrecking was a mainstay of the local economy, goods salvaged from shipwrecks were stored in and sold from the house’s cellar (which now serves as the museum’s Wrecker’s Gallery.)

Later in the 19th century, future British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain lived here as a young man prior to purchasing his own home on the cay.

E. Willis Bethel Photo: Albert Lowe Museum

E. Willis Bethel
Photo: Albert Lowe Museum

And in the early 20th century, when merchant ships sailed from New Plymouth to New York packed with pineapples and returned laden with dry goods and other supplies, the stars and stripes flew over the house’s porch as it served as residence and office for U.S. Consul, E. Willis Bethel.

When the 1932 hurricane demolished New Plymouth’s library, this house – one of just a handful of structures in the settlement to survive the storm – served as a library until a new one could be built.

Sadly, by the mid-1970s, the Roberts house had fallen into disrepair. It was being rented out as office space when Alton purchased the home and set about its restoration.

He scoured the Bahamas for architectural elements – like porch spindles from a historic home in Nassau – that were true to the house’s vintage, as well as historically accurate reproduction pieces – such as gingerbread trim, hand-made by his brother, Leonard Lowe.

A year later, before Bahamian, American and British dignitaries and hundreds of onlookers, Alton opened the Albert Lowe Museum — the first museum in the Bahamas.

Sir Clement Maynard Cuts Ribbon

Alton Lowe looks on as the Hon. Clement Maynard, Bahamas Minister of Tourism,
cuts the ribbon to open the Albert Lowe Museum.

Named in honour of Alton’s father, a well-known model ship maker, the museum’s mission was to preserve Bahamian and Abaconian history and serve as an educational tool for young Bahamians.

Opening Day, Albert Lowe Museum Photo: Albert Lowe Museum

Opening Day, Albert Lowe Museum
Photo: Albert Lowe Museum

Today, the museum showcases three centuries’ worth of paintings, sculptures, writings, models, photographs and other artifacts documenting the lives of the Lucayan Indians who first inhabited these islands, and the Loyalists and their slaves who settled here after fleeing post-revolutionary America.

It’s a diverse and fascinating collection, housed in a building that’s played a key role in New Plymouth history for nearly 200 years.

Model ship by Albert Lowe, on display in the museum

Model ship by Albert Lowe on display at the museum
Photo by Tom Walters


Fish Hooks Video Diary: The Move

As you can see in the above video, our journey toward restoring Fish Hooks took an unexpected detour a week ago. Last Thursday, we learned that the crane we hoped would move the cottage was out of commission, and nobody knew how long repairs would take.

Needless to say, last weekend was a stressful one for Tom and me. We wondered if, despite our months of planning and anticipation, we might leave Green Turtle Cay without moving the house at all.

Fish Hooks Video Diary: Beam It Up

As you can see in this latest entry in our Fish Hooks video diary, Oral, Jason and Gavin have made great progress in the past few days. Our “moving day” is growing ever near. We expect it will be sometime next week, depending on the availability of the crane. Will keep you posted!

A huge thank you to my husband, Tom Walters, for all the hours he’s put into documenting the restoration of our little house by the ferry. No doubt these are videos we will treasure in the years to come.

Related Stories: We’ve Hooked the Small One, Fish Hooks Update – The Inspection, Attic Archaeology, And Then There Were These…, Fish Hooks Update, Fish Hooks Video Diary: A Solid Start, Fish Hooks Video Diary: The Cellar, Fish Hooks Video Diary: Ready, Set…, Fish Hooks Video Diary: The Move.

Another Island Home Saved

Our end of the New Plymouth settlement is looking great these days. In addition to the two new houses that have been built nearby, we were thrilled to see that the house around the corner from Fish Hooks has been beautifully refurbished.

As often happens on the out islands (and as was the case with Fish Hooks), the original owners of the home had passed on, and their children had moved away for work or to start families.

Pink House Before 2

Time and weather had not been kind, and the house looked as if it might soon be beyond repair.

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