Historic preservation architect returns

Patricia Green, an historic preservation architect, arrived in Cayman on 17 September to undertake a number of restoration-related initiatives on behalf of the Museum Board.

Ms Green expected to remain until this past Friday.

Ms Green was first invited to Cayman in the months following Hurricane Ivan to assess the Museum building. She was later charged with developing drawings to document the existing building and produce the construction drawings.

At that time she worked with Museum staff and other team members, including Project Manager Tommy Ebanks of the Ministry of Culture.

She is now back in Cayman to continue documenting aspects of the project, while undertaking various assessment activities.

Ms Green said that unforeseen changes are inevitably made during the refurbishment of buildings of this stature. For example, the Museum Gift Shop had originally been situated in the Old Gaol, but with the discovery of historic graffiti on the walls, the site is now being preserved. Consequently, the Gift Shop has had to be relocated. Configuration of rooms has also changed, such as the addition of a viewing panel to display the underground cistern located below the audio-visual room.

Commenting on her impression of the building on completion of the construction works last month, Miss Green said that the building, as has the island’s overall recovery from Hurricane Ivan, ‘showed the indomitable spirit of the Caymanian people.’

She paid much credit for the ‘vision’ of what has been achieved at the Museum to current Acting Director of the Museum, Debra Barnes-Tabora and Museum Director, Emerita Anita Ebanks.

In particular, Miss Green noted, the group physically worked on the restoration of the wattle and daub conservation. They learned from traditional craftsmen Messrs John Smith, Billy Banker and Tony Powell on the customary way to produce the daub.

‘Their work was evidence of the uniquely Caymanian vernacular architecture,’ Miss Green said.

When not documenting the process, Mrs. Barnes-Tabora plastered walls side by side with the traditional craftsmen, Miss Green recalled.

Miss Green anticipates completion of this phase of her involvement by the November ‘soft’ opening of the Museum. The Museum will formally open, with all exhibits in place, in January 2009.

Miss Green is an Associate Professor in the Environment Management Unit of the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. She is published on Caribbean architecture and urbanism and continues to present the architectural environment of the Caribbean on international radio, television, and is represented in newspapers, magazines, professional journals, and books.

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