Monday, April 15, 2024

From The Archives: House links Barbados to Carolinas


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ARLINGTON, TALL, NARROW AND GABLED, is one of the oldest and most important houses in Speightstown.

It is presently owned by the Barbados National Bank, but the Barbados Nation Trust has identified it as the natural focal point of a revitalised “Little Bristol”, as the once prosperous little town was known.

The Barbados National Trust is wager to see Arlington restored and used as a museum of Speightstown, with a crafts market, a visitor information centre and a public park.

Another reason why the Trust wants the building preserved is because it is the last remaining architectural link between Barbados and the Carolinas in the United States.

Settlers from Barbados established a permanent colony at Charlestown (now Charleston) in 1670 and many prominent merchants from the town took with them their style of living and their style or architecture.

Many features of Arlington are replicated in the famous “single houses” of Charleston, South Carolina, according to Professor Henry Fraser, a past-resident of The National Trust.

According to the book A-Z of Barbadian Heritage which Fraser co-authored, Gullah, the dialect of the Carolina coast and islands, resembles Barbadian dialect in many ways – syntax, pronunciation, idiom and verbs.

These factors explain the Barbados National Trust’s deep interest in the preservation of Arlington and the revitalisation of Speightstown.

For generations Arlington belonged to a family names Skinner, prominent merchants and ship chandlers.

It housed the first public health centre in Barbados – the forerunner of the Maurice Byer Polyclinic.


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