ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The National Parks Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism officially accepted, yesterday, a US $50,000 grant for the restoration of Betty’s Hope Estate provided by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation,.
Chairman of the Betty’s Hope project Dr Reginald Murphy remarked that the restoration of the plantation started in 1990 with a few dedicated volunteers.
“Betty’s Hope started off as an innocent project. We wanted to restore a wind mill to working condition,” he said.
Murphy recalled the struggles as buildings were burned and construction material disappeared, as some saw the restoration of the plantation as a monument to colonialism.
“Museums are about learning and not just learning from reading but also touching and feeling,” he said.
“When we come here we can look at the mill we can touch it, we can understand what the people who ran it went through. It gives us a tangible insight into the past,” Murphy noted.
US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry Palmer said the grant to Betty’s Hope is part of millions spent towards restoring hundreds of sites worldwide.
“Through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation the United States has contributed over $188,000 to preserve cultural sites across the eastern Caribbean,” he said.
Minister of Tourism John Maginley, who was present for the short ceremony at the historical site Tuesday morning, said there was a story to tell at Betty’s Hope.
The tourism minister said the country’s online tourism portal, VisitAntiguaBarbuda.com, which is about to launch, would give Betty’s Hope and other historical sites a platform to tell their stories.
“On it you will have a map of Antigua, and you can actually go to Betty’s Hope, it will tell you how to get here and where it is,” he said.
The restoration, which is currently underway, includes repairing stress factors in the 17th century windmill, including replacing the 20-year-old weathered sail points.
Inside the mill, an additional wooden interpretation panel, which provides information to visitors about the mill’s history, will be provided.
The surrounding area will be cleared to help establish an outdoor museum of industrial agricultural machinery.
The property’s perimetre will be cleared and the fence repaired. A termite-damaged door and window frames at the interpretive centre will be replaced.
Finally, a new guard hut will be placed to be used for site control and ticket sales.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)