Traditional Caymanian home opens at Botanic Park

| 15/06/2017
CNS Local Life

Rankine Heritage House

(CNS Local Life): The Rankine Heritage House at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is now open to the public, enabling visitors to walk through the historical Caymanian home which is more than 100 years old. Julius Rankine of East End donated the small house to the Botanic Park in the mid ‘90s where it was restored and a sand garden developed showing the traditional ornamental plants of that setting.

A medicinal garden was also added showcasing various plants that were used to treat ailments in earlier times. Amanda Bush and John Lawrus of the Botanic Park spearheaded the project, stated a Tourism Attraction Board (TAB) press release.

“It is a very sweet little house and seems like stepping back into history,” Bush said.

She added the project was a joint effort by Botanic Park staff, who were pleased to contribute to restoring the home. “We are equally pleased with the feedback from our visitors,” Bush said. “Many can relate to the by-gone era and recognise the vintage objects and remark that it is like their grandparents’ home. Its success will be that it brings back fond memories for the older folks and be an educational tool for the younger ones.”

Lawrus, who is general manager of the Botanic Park, which is managed by the TAB, said, “I am extremely proud to see the Rankine House opened up again, for all of our visitors to enjoy and reflect upon the history of the Cayman Islands.”

He added, “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. 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.”

Tour guide and maintenance staff James Miller said he was excited that the house is being opened to the public, adding, “I’m looking forward to doing the tours with people and showing them how we lived in the old days.” He also noted that there is still work to be done on the property including planting corn and bananas, making whompers and preparing salt fish to hang in the kitchen.

“We’re also going to plant sugar cane and get a cane compressor like how they use to do, as well as have a thatch rope-making station,” he said.

Patrick Thompson, TAB director, praised the work of park staff. “I am delighted that the Rankine House is now open for public viewing. The manager and staff have done a tremendous job in preserving the house since it was donated to the Botanic Park,” he said.

“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. Guests to the park will now be able to experience the unique interior of this old-time Caymanian house.”

Guided tours, which take about two hours, can be booked on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm.

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 5:30pm. Spanning more than 60 acres of tropical landscape, the park is home to an abundance of wildlife, heritage and nature. Admission for residents costs $5 for adults, with children under 12 and seniors over 60 free.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Rankine Heritage House should email the Botanic Park

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Category: Culture

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