Picturesque homes date from 1870s
Local architecture of another era are highlighted in the Cayman Islands Postal Service’s collection of stamps issued June 10.
Featured are a Cayman Brac home built in the 1870s and rebuilt in the 1930s, an 1890s home in Little Cayman, and three other Brac homes from the early 20th century. Though the images look like watercolor paintings, they are digitally enhanced photographs, explained Assistant Postmaster Tara Bush.
The distinctive features of each is easy to discern visually; even more impressive are the stories associated with each one, as told in a leaflet prepared by the postal service.
These traditional structures are a reminder of the time before electric drills and power saws; a time when available materials suggested what form a building should take, and when the builder’s ingenuity turned potential problems into positive advantages.
By bringing these homes to the public’s attention, the postal service pays tribute to the men and women who constructed and cared for them through generations.
The following information is from the post office leaflet, which was compiled from archival documents and family histories.
Capt. Theo’s Villa
The 20-cent stamp features a home in Blossom Village, Little Cayman. Owned by Theophilus and Louise Bodden, it was built in the early 1890s by Eden Bodden on ironwood pillars from trees found on Little Cayman. Men took coconuts to sell in Tampa, Florida, in order to get money to buy the lumber.
In a time before air-conditioning, the house encouraged natural air flow by being built off the ground and with louvered vents below the roof.
During the 1932 hurricane, strong winds and seas washed the house off its pillars. Approximately 40 people and their belongings inside weighed the house down and stopped it from being washed out to sea. The caboose and dining room were destroyed along with the walkway connecting the buildings. The home was renovated by the late Capt. Keith Tibbetts around 1978. In 2005 it was renovated again and given the name Capt. Theo’s Villa.
Captain Charlie’s on the Bay. Stake Bay, that is.
The original house was built by Walter and Judith Kirkconnell in the 1870s. It was inherited by Walter’s son, Charles Gerald Kirkconnell, better known as Captain Charlie, who shared this home with his wife Olivene and his three children, Alex, Charles and Eldon.
The house was destroyed by the 1932 hurricane and had to be completely rebuilt. Captain Charlie sought the help of his brother, Capt. Moses Kirkconnell Sr., and the new two-story house was completed in 1934. They used strong ironwood posts as the foundation; floors, ceiling and the outside layer of the house were built using the tongue and groove method with yellow pine hardwood. The roof was cedar-shingled and the indoor mahogany staircase was salvaged from a wreck on a cay south of Cayman Brac.
The house was renovated in the 1980s and now is frequently enjoyed by the Kirkconnell Family for summer vacations and weekend getaways. It is featured on the 75-cent stamp.
Taylor Foster House
This house was built in 1933 by Medley Foster, Taylor’s brother. The material is believed to have come from Florida. This house has a high ceiling and shiplap wood siding in a bungalow style with ironwood stilts. It is gable ended with a painted zinc roof and covered front porch. The kitchen is separate from the main house. This structure graces the $1 stamp.
Edwin Adolphus Carter (1896-1965) emigrated from Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, at the age of 15 and went on to build his family home in Creek, Cayman Brac, in 1928. He married Evelyn McLean and they had 11 children. The original house was a manor construction – wattle and daub cottage on the first floor and a timber cabin on the second floor.
Mr. Carter, like many of his time, was a fisherman and also a merchant. He owned a store, which was destroyed in the 1932 hurricane and rebuilt in its current location farther from the sea. Slowly, as the Brac recovered, the home was repaired with shiplap on the ground floor.
It is said that only 11 houses remained after the Category 4 Hurricane of 1932: the Carter house was one of them. It was restored after the passing of Hurricane Paloma in 2008 by the family’s youngest child, Leonardi, and his two children. The home with its covered outside stairway and upstairs porch is seen on the 25-cent stamp.
First day cover
A first day cover is available for $3.05. It includes all four stamps and an illustration of the Bertrand Marson House, also in Cayman Brac. Built in 1908 and officially called Cliff House, it has four bedrooms and bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and library. It has a gable-ended zinc roof with wooden shutters and an extended covered front porch. The house acted as a shelter during the 1932 hurricane and remains a landmark. Nancy Gurr Baldwin and her brother Harry Gurr are the current owners. They are descendants of James Hunter who built the house, and his niece Valerie Hunter Borden Marson, who was married to Bertrand Marson.