SAVANNAH -- The Cayman Islands has a new attraction -- and it is
Pedro St. James National Historic Site sprawls over seven acres
atop a limestone bluff overlooking the Caribbean. After seven years
and a $7.5 million transformation, the site opened as the country's
first national landmark, its birthplace of democracy.
Thomas Jefferson, minister of tourism, said that the site "is the
Caymanian equivalent to Independence Hall in the U.S. It will serve
as a model for future heritage attractions here."
Pedro Castle, centerpiece of the site, is an historically
accurate restoration of a three-story, early 19th century West
Indian great house and estate.
It was originally the home of William Eden, a cotton plantation
owner on Savannah's Pedro bluff on Grand Cayman's south coast.
Eden called his home St. James; research shows that it was built
of native rock around 1780 using slave labor.
St. James was the only house on Grand Cayman to survive the
hurricane of 1785.
On Dec. 5, 1831, leaders of the British-owned colony gathered at
St. James to sign a document outlining the parliamentary system
still in place today.
In May 1835 the freedom of slaves was declared on the great
Recognizing the site's historic importance, the Cayman
government bought the property in November 1991 to develop it as
the country's first national landmark and heritage tourism
Groundbreaking took place in May 1995.
The restoration of the great house, which represents the period
between 1820 and 1840, was completed last January. Details reflect
authentic building techniques of Caribbean great houses, from
rough-hewn timber beams and wooden pegs to mahogany floors, wooden
ceilings, stone walls and louvered shutters. A working oven and
outdoor kitchen re-create the out buildings on the original estate.
The grounds contain traditional medicinal gardens, livestock and
The second phase was the $1.5 million Visitors Centre which
includes a multimedia theater offering 200 years of Cayman history
in a 20-minute video.
Visitors can take self-guided tours of the great house and
grounds, although experienced guides in period costumes are also
available. The site is open daily; admission is $6.
Pedro St. James Historic Site
Phone: (345) 947-3329