Curious about the history of these beautiful islands? Interested in how people lived in the Turks and Caicos before electricity, digital communications and international airlines? Looking for answers that don’t require traveling beyond Providenciales?
Then take a turn off Grace Bay Road into the The Village at Grace Bay and find your way to the Caicos Heritage House, a Turks and Caicos National Museum project situated next to the Museum’s Provo-based Development Office.
The National Museum has been preserving and interpreting the islands’ history at its original Grand Turk location for more than 25 years. Because that location puts its collection beyond the reach of the country’s most populated island, expanding its Provo footprint remains an ongoing project.
The non-profit has plans for a larger Provo museum, but its Heritage House now offers travelers and residents a window to the past – and context for the present.
Candianne Williams, a representative of the Turks and Caicos National Museum Foundation, says visitors who tour the Development Office exhibits and the adjacent Heritage House “get a sense of where we have come from and where we are now.”
Her tours orient visitors to the sweep of Turks and Caicos Islands’ history in the Development Office’s air conditioned main building, where exhibits lead the curious from pre-history through the 20th century.
But the focus of the Provo facility is the Heritage House. The features of this traditional homestead represent years of research into multiple historic dwellings on the sparsely populated island of North Caicos. Museum officials constructed the Caicos Heritage House to reflect features common to the islands’ vernacular style – thick masonry walls, raised floors and thatched roofs – and outfitted it with representative furnishings and housewares.
Then as now, TCI residents didn’t limit themselves to life indoors. The homestead includes an outdoor “cooking hut,” as well as a traditional outhouse and a garden of indigenous plants. Each plant has a purpose, with uses that range from fishing to medicine.
The house presents a simple way of life that persisted here through the mid-20th century. Williams calls her tours “a walk through the way of life from that era,” but connects that lifestyle to the islands’ more recent past. For instance, after Hurricane Donna blew the thatched roofs off many of the islands’ homes in 1960, most residents replaced their thatched roofs with metal ones.
The guided tour typically takes about 45 minutes, but guests are invited to spend as much time as they please with the indoor and outdoor exhibits.
if you go
The Development Office and Caicos Heritage House are located in The Village at Grace Bay. Signs are posted at the entrance to The Village from Grace Bay Road. Historical Timeline and Caicos Heritage Homestead tours are available Monday thru Friday from 9 am – 1 pm, or by appointment, also for groups. The museum is closed on weekends and public holidays. Admission is $10, including the tour. The Museum is part of the Turks and Caicos National Museum Foundation, a non-profit private foundation governed by a body of trustees and funded by private donations. For more information: www.tcmuseum.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org