Rebirthing Pedro St. James

Historic tourist attraction Pedro St. James Castle, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Ivan last year, will not be back on the tourist map for some time yet.

Pedro Castle’s redevelopment has been significantly impacted by delays in insurance settlements and problems experienced with securing qualified contractors, which are in such high demand, said Tourism Attractions Board CEO Gilbert Connolly.

However, there has been recent progress on both fronts and the TAB is working with its project managers to confirm the redevelopment timeline, Mr. Connolly said. The Ministry of Tourism has identified funding for repairs to proceed in the meantime, while the insurance settlement is pending.

He added that as the restoration of Pedro Castle has such historical significance, TAB reviewed redevelopment plans with the original historical consultants to ensure that construction materials and reconstruction techniques applied on the Great House are technically and historically acceptable. Also, in addition to the physical repairs which are due to resume, the TAB Board and Management are reviewing the operational plans for the site to better optimize usage going forward.

While Hurricane Ivan definitely set back the historic site, Pedro Castle is preparing for a rebirth which is befitting the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands, said Mr. Connolly.

It is not known how long the repairs will take to complete, but the damage sustained includes the roof of the great house, which is completely gone, water damage to the theatre, and flood damage to the cafeteria.

Mr. Connolly asserted that the Tourism Attractions Board has been working with the Ministry in trying to do all it can to get the repairs done.

This great house is the birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands as the first government was formed in the building in 1831.

Pedro St. James was built in 1780 by William Eden and was completely restored in the 1990s in order to function as a top tourism site. It took seven years and a $7.5 million transformation.

In 1991 the Government bought the 7.65 acre property to develop as Cayman’s first national landmark and heritage tourism attraction. It was purchased from adventurer, the late Tom Hubbell, who had turned the ruins into a bar and guest house. The Government’s development of it became the most extensive restoration project in Cayman’s history and was completed in December 1998 and unveiled during a grand opening celebration.

This tourist site is also known for its beautiful gardens and other restored historic buildings.

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