Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

 




THINGS THAT MATTER: George Washington House

Henry S Fraser

“George Washington not only slept here …. He woke up here!” (Penny Hynam, Director of the Restoration)

"It was a pivotal moment for him …. His resolve to get ahead began here." (Jack Warren Jr., Editor of "The Papers of George Washington".)

“He was greater than any of us believed he was.” (Douglas Freeman, biographer of Washington)

George Washington House, formerly Bush Hill House, is one of the extraordinary historic sites in Barbados, that is much more than a museum celebrating the USA’s first President and God-like hero of heroes.

This column continues the thread of last week’s Letter from America and The Barbados Carolina connection, as well as the series on the museums of Barbados, which began with the Cricket Legends Museum.

Many people have asked why Barbados should have restored the house where George Washington lived, and made it into a Five Star Historic Site, when he’s not a Bajan hero, but an American hero. This question, in all its innocence, betrays a slightly parochial outlook, as well as a lack of general knowledge of the long and strong relationship between Barbados and the USA.

Actually, even without any awareness of the historical, cultural, economic and family ties between Barbados and “big brother”, there can hardly be a Bajan without a father, mother, sibling, auntie or best friend in the USA. People like to call Brooklyn is our “other” constituency, and how Bajan politicians like to make big announcements up there! And if I confess up, I’ve had an uncle and two aunts, a fairy Godmother and a whole “riffle” of cousins in the USA since a hundred years ago! And I know that goes for most of us, with relatives emigrating since the post-Panama era, and in even more in the last fifty years – in fact it’s reported that more than 50,000 Americans claim Barbadian citizenship or immediate descent, with almost 20,000 having emigrated in the post-Independence decade.

And emigration goes way back, almost 350 years, to the colonisation of the Carolinas and settlement of Charlestown (now Charleston) by the Anglo-Barbadian odyssey in 1670 – forming “a colony of a colony”. This transplant of Barbadian society and culture, inspired by Sir John Colleton, had enormous implications for both countries over the next 100 years. Some 30,000 left for America in the 17th century, at least another 20,000 in the 18th century, and many more in the last century.


Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.


Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.


Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.


Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and Amazon.com


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