The National Trust began renovation work at the historic Fort George site in George Town this week.
The improvement work, which started on Tuesday, 23 April, includes the construction of a large mural wall behind the property, which will echo the sea view that would historically have been seen from the fort.
Native plants and interpretive signage will also be added, but a large mahoe tree at the site that is in a serious state of deterioration and has even been used as an outdoor toilet by some people over the years, is being removed, explained Christina McTaggart, general manager at the National Trust.
“It’s not a native tree and historically it did not exist when the fort was there,” she said.
Fort George has been tied to stories of early settlement, defence, the militia and Cayman during World War II.
“The Trust remains committed to supporting and improving the conditions of Fort George. Putting in place Cayman Island’s rare, endemic and culturally native plants only add to the rich history and improvements of the site,” Ms McMcTaggart said. “We wish to extend special thanks to Walkers Charitable Foundation for making these important improvements possible.”
Walkers Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 to the Trust for the work.
The fort dates back to the 1700s and is one of only three built heritage sites remaining in central George Town. It was once used to defend Grand Cayman from attacks by Spanish marauders and was also used as a coastal lookout for enemy ships in World War II. The fort’s cannons remain in situ, passed daily by thousands of cruise ship tourists.
After falling into disuse, the waterfront site was saved from demolition by a group of concerned citizens in 1972. Fifteen years later, the ruins were donated to the National Trust in 1987 and it was officially dedicated as a historic site in 1992.
Landscaping work and general repairs and restoration of the site are being spearheaded by the National Trust with the help of architect John Doak and engineer Ali Sabti of APEC Engineering. Artist John Broad will create a large 80 foot long and 8 foot high mural depicting three scenes, the Home Guard, an attack by Spanish marauders in the late 1700s and an explosion at sea during World War II.