Historic Nixon house to be relocated and preserved

The Nixon House on Goring Avenue was built in the early 1800s. It is scheduled to be moved to Bodden Town for preservation. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

A historic home on a plot of land across from the Citrus Grove business centre will be moved to Bodden Town in order to preserve it.

Built in the early 1800s, the dilapidated vacant structure, known as the Clayton Nixon home, is named for a former owner and thought to have been constructed by his grandfather.

According to records, the house was possibly one of the first Cayman homes owned by a former slave, said Minister of Culture Dwayne Seymour in a news release. “It is also a fine example of traditional Caymanian construction techniques with walls that include wattle and daub as well as limestone.”

Wattle and daub incorporates a network of sticks or twigs covered with mud or clay.

Ministry officials said the house will be relocated to the Mission House property in Bodden Town. The Ministry has just concluded the procurement exercise for the relocation as well as some reassembling post-move.

Seymour said his ministry learned last year that the cottage, which is on the National Trust’s Register of Historic Buildings, was in danger of being demolished due to the upcoming development of Citrus Grove II.

“The structure is one of the few remaining examples of an early home,” he said, “so the ministry moved to save it from being destroyed.”

The process of doing so involved representatives from several agencies, including the Cayman Islands National Museum, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, the planning department and the NCB Group. Planning Department’s Colleen Stoetzel and NCB Group property company representatives Alan Wight and Ally McRae who represent the developers of the Citrus Grove office complex.

While Seymour sought funding from the Cabinet, the National Trust’s Historical Advisory Committee members Cathy Frazier and John Doak volunteered their time, with Frazier researching the historical value of the property and Doak conducting an as-built survey to determine the current state of the house. Other surveys were also done on the grounds and a nearby stepwell.

National Trust Executive Director Nadia Hardie called the structure “a historic treasure of national significance,” offering insight into traditional architecture of that era.

Matthew Wight, managing director of NCB Group, said his company was eager to help in the preservation.

“As developers, we had no hesitation in collaborating with this project,” Wight said in the release. “The built heritage of the Cayman Islands contributes to our understanding of ourselves and to our quality of life. We believe it is one of our country’s most important cultural assets.”