An historic event took place on the Brac Saturday when members of the Eldemire family donated their family home to the National Trust.
On the front porch of the home, which was built in 1928, four of the Eldemire brothers, Merrick, Philip, George and Bruce, together with their nephew Charles, signed the papers and handed over the keys to the house in which they were all raised.
On hand for the transfer of the property were Trust Chair Ms Carla Reid, who acted as MC for the informal occasion, Trust general manager Frank Roulstone and Brac Chapter Chairman Martin Keeley.
Also present were the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, who spent many happy hours with his sister, Mrs. Mexi-Ann Grant, at the Eldemire home when he was growing up next door; Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Education, Employment Relations, Youth, Sports and Culture; and recently elected MLAs Mr. Osbourne Bodden, Mr. Moses Kirkconnell and Ms Lucille Seymour.
Mr. Kirkconnell, second elected member for Cayman Brac, told the audience that he was delighted the Eldemire family had chosen to donate their home to the Trust and the people of Cayman Brac, as it reflected his belief in the preservation of Cayman’s roots.
Ms Reid, Mr. Roulstone and Mr. Keeley thanked the family for their generosity, and gave the commitment that the home would be renovated and preserved as an historic museum open to Caymanians and visitors alike.
On behalf of the family, Mr. Merrick Eldemire of Tampa – at 88, the oldest brother – reminisced about growing up in the house in the 1920s and 1930s. He talked about the impact of the storm of 1932, which the Eldemire home survived.
‘It was washed off its posts and pushed back against the cistern and the kitchen,’ he said. ‘This stopped it from being wrecked like all the other houses on both sides of us.’ The front door, including its glass window, survived the storm.
Immediately after the hurricane, the house, which sheltered 34 people during the storm, became a centre of the community. Because it was one of the very few buildings left standing, people from the communities of Creek and Watering Place were able to get food and support from the Eldemire family. Further to the east, the McLaughlin family home also survived, and was used as a hospital for the sick and injured.
The Eldemire house remained the centre of the community for many decades after the storm. It was one of the first houses to be wired for a generator, by Merrick in 1946, who was by then a fully trained engineer, and a few years later, George, who also became an engineer, was able to outfit the building with modern plumbing.
The National Trust plans to restore the building to bring it back to the way it looked in the 1930s. It will then be used as a working museum to show students and visitors the way Brackers lived in the early part of the last century.
‘We are going to be calling on the Brac community to support us in our efforts,’ said Mr. Keeley. ‘It will be a place where everyone can help lend a hand to preserve this important part of our past.’