Rankine Heritage House, a Cayman sand yard home traditionally adorned with conch shells and white fences, is now open to the public at Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park for viewing.
Visitors can walk through the Caymanian home, which is more than 100 years old, and experience what life was like in those days.
“It is a very sweet little house and seems like stepping back into history,” said Amanda Bush, the park’s administrative officer. “Many can relate to the bygone era and recognize the vintage objects and remark that it is like their grandparents’ home.
“It’s success will be that it brings back fond memories for the older folks and be an educational tool for the younger ones, and its appeal for the park.”
The project was spearheaded by Ms. Bush and park general manager John Lawrus, along with staff.
She said they have been pleased with the feedback from visitors.
Mr. Lawrus said he is extremely proud to see the Rankine House open again.
“The importance of preserving historic buildings only goes in one direction, as once they are gone there is no chance to renovate or save the building,” he said. “By seeing period buildings, whether related to someone or being culturally significant, visitors and longtime residents are able to view the aesthetic and cultural history of a time that has now passed.
“We hope the Rankine House continues to be part of the important cultural history of the Cayman Islands, which needs to be maintained and shared with all,” said Mr. Lawrus.
James Miller, the park’s maintenance and tour guide, said he is excited about the opportunity to show everyone a piece of Cayman’s heritage.
“I’m looking forward to doing the tours with people and showing them how we lived in the old days. There’s still a lot to do. I have to finish planting the corn and banana plants out the back, make wompers, and prepare salt fish to hang in the kitchen.
“We’re also going to plant sugar cane and get a cane compressor like how they used to do, as well as have a thatch-rope making station,” said Mr. Miller.
Patrick Thompson, director of the Tourism Attraction Board, said, “The manager and staff have done a tremendous job in preserving the house since it was donated to the Botanic Park. The Tourism Attraction Board is in the business of preserving the history and culture of the Cayman Islands. While this is significant, I believe aptly showcasing this history and culture is of paramount importance.”
The small Caymanian home was donated to the Botanic Park by Julius Rankine from East End, Grand Cayman, in the mid-1990s. It was restored and a sand garden developed around the house showing the traditional ornamental plants of that setting.
A medicinal garden was also planted, showcasing various plants that were used to treat ailments.
Guided tours, typically lasting two hours, can be booked on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m.
For more information, or to contribute to the Rankine Heritage House, contact [email protected]
The park is open Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Discounted rates for residents are $5 for adults, free for children under 12 and seniors over 60.