Daily Photo – May 18, 2017

Flower in the garden at the Albert Lowe Museum. Does anyone know what kind of flower this is?

 

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Key West Celebrates Its Island Roots May 19 and 20

Because it’s an election year, Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival is on hiatus for 2017.

But the celebrations will go on in Key West, where they’re holding an event next weekend to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Island Roots Heritage Festival, held in 1977.

Key West celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Island Roots Heritage Festival on May 19 and 20, 2017.

Alton Lowe and Michelle Roberts of Green Turtle Cay present Key West Mayor Charles McCoy with the New Plymouth flag at the original Island Roots Heritage Festival – May 1977.

The Key West event kicks off on Friday night, May 19th, with a performance by the Barefoot Man and his band at Two Friends Patio Restaurant.

The Barefoot Man (George Nowak) and his band will perform at the Island Roots Heritage Festival in Key West May 19 and 20

On Saturday May 20th, the fun goes from noon until 11:00 pm at the Truman Waterfront Park Field. There will be carnival rides and music, including a performance by children from the Bahama Village Music Program. A variety of vendors will sell food, beverages and island-inspired crafts, and I hear there may even be a Junkanoo rush!

If you’re interested in tracing your own island roots, you won’t want to miss the presentation by Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project. Peter will have DNA kits available for those who would like to be tested.

Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project

The sister city relationship between Key West and Green Turtle Cay — first proclaimed in 1977 — will be reaffirmed, and the evening will wrap up with another performance by the Barefoot Man.

Bahamian Member of Parliament George Smith presents the Sister City proclamation to Key West Mayor Charles McCoy – May 1977.

General admission for adults is $5, and includes a wristband so folks can come and go from the event all day. Children will be admitted free, but will still receive a keepsake wristband.

For more details, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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Laying Rope

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

In the late 1880s, believing it held the key to the colony’s economic success, Bahamian Governor Ambrose Shea introduced sisal, a plant that yields a stiff fibre used to make rope, twine, mats and other household items.

Lambert Gates (left) and Vertrum Lowe laying rope, circa 1950. Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Since the U.S. had no domestic sisal supply, the governor pointed out, there was a ready market nearby. Furthermore, since sisal plants live more than a decade and survive in virtually any condition, they require minimum care. Continue reading

Wilson City: A Modern Marvel

Every day this week, as a lead up to my Marsh Harbour book signing on Saturday, May 13th, I’ll be sharing historic Abaco photographs and brief excerpts from my new book, Those Who Stayed.

In 1906, an American group calling itself the Bahamas Timber Company obtained a 100-year contract to log pinelands in Abaco. On a site south of Marsh Harbour, they built a state-of-the-art sawmill and an adjacent town, Wilson City, to house employees.

Wilson City (Abaco, Bahamas): A Modern Marvel

Wilson City, Abaco, Bahamas.  Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

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A Sweet Glimpse Into Green Turtle Cay’s Past

Just east of New Plymouth’s government buildings, in the yard behind the customs officer’s residence, sits an unremarkable hunk of rusted equipment. All but overgrown by tall grass, it’s easy to overlook. But it actually represents a window into early 20th-century life on Green Turtle Cay.

The rusted remnants of a sugarcane mill, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. The years following the turn of the century were lean ones for the residents of New Plymouth. Just a few decades before, the settlement had been vibrant and prosperous. Some of its more adventurous residents made their fortunes as blockade runners during the American Civil War. Others harvested sponges or turtles, or cultivated sisal, citrus and pineapples.

With work plentiful, Green Turtle Cay’s population soared to nearly 2,000. Its streets were lined with large, gracious homes decorated with fine furniture and imported silks and linens. Continue reading

THOSE WHO STAYED Now Available at Marsh Harbour’s Sand Dollar Shoppe

For those of you who’ve asked, my new book Those Who Stayed, is now available in Marsh Harbour at the Sand Dollar Shoppe.

And, I’m excited to announce that the folks at the Sand Dollar Shoppe have invited Alton Lowe and me to appear in-store for a book signing event on Saturday, May 13th! (Which happens to be the day before Mother’s Day, so if you’re looking for a gift for Mom, come on by.)

Amanda Diedrick, author of Those Who Stayed, and Alton Lowe, whose paintings are featured in the book will appear at a book signing May 13th at the Sand Dollar Shoppe in Marsh Harbour Bahamas

The Sand Dollar Shoppe is located on Bay Street, just opposite the Abaco Beach Resort, and Alton and I will be in-store from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more information, contact the shop at (242) 367-4405 or get in touch with me directly.

Hope to see you May 13th!

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More Than $10,000 Raised for the Albert Lowe Museum

I’m beyond excited to report that our January 7th anniversary celebration/fundraiser for the Albert Lowe Museum, An Evening to Remember, raised just over $10,000!

Fundraiser for the Albert Lowe Museum raises more than $10,000 towards repairs and upgrades

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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

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