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Pablo Ninofranco, Retired, Harbor, and wife Josie attended the Passion Play 2022 .
Letter From Barbados, Pt. 3
Capt. Michael Barnes, Retired, Harbor, reports from the Caribbean.
George Washington House
Yes, George Washington, the future President, and his half-brother Lawrence took a Caribbean cruise in 1751 from Virginia to the tropical island of Barbados. Lawrence had not been feeling well from tuberculosis when he decided to bring the 19-year-old George along to visit friends and family in the slave capital of the world, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Upon leaving Virginia the brothers had planned to stay with Lawrence’s mother-in-law’s Barbadian family. But four days after arriving they discovered that the family had smallpox. George caught the disease and took a month of treatment by a British doctor before he was well. Once he recovered, he did have immunity from contracting smallpox again.
The Washingtons also had extended family on the island. John Washington, George’s great-grandfather, was the second cousin to a member of the House of Assembly. Through these social connections, he became friends with the garrison’s British military commander, from whom he learned about the placement of canons and the advantage of defense works. Upon returning to Virginia, George joined the British colonial Virginia militia, and later put this knowledge to good use during the rebel’s siege of Boston.
The house claiming to be where George Washington slept was not officially located until 1990, and during its 2007 remodeling, the 1845 second-story addition was not eliminated. So, the house does not look like it did when George and his brother stayed there, but it is more eye pleasing as a two-story ochre-color 18th-century plantation home for the tourists’ photos.
Today the house is furnished with period furniture and set up as a tourist exhibit with a long 30-seat table running from the front to the back of the house. This separates what technically would have been the bedrooms where George and Lawrence slept. A popular tourist feature of the house is the George Washington dinners, with actors dressed in period clothing and a narrator sitting at the table head dressed up like George Washington explaining the …
history of the house and times. The food is prepared in the restored kitchen behind the main house, built separately so heat and smoke from the open kitchen fire would not affect the guests.
The second story of the building is a museum (air conditioned) where the story of George Washington’s time in Barbados is displayed. There are also exhibits about the garrison’s daily Caribbean life and slavery in Barbados. In 1719 a windmill was built to provide power to pump water to the bathhouse and drinking water for the stables.
While doing repair work on the building in 2012, a network of 200-year-old drainage tunnels was found below the house and surrounding area. It was built by the British to drain the area of stagnant water and mosquitos. Upon finishing the tour of the house, visitors can walk out of the main gate, turn right, stroll down the hill, and in two minutes will be at the main coastal road. Turn right and cross the road to Shoot Hall, the 1824 quarters for the British Commanding Officer of the Royal Engineers (currently the Barbados Yacht Club).
For those of you who belong to yacht clubs, take your club pennant for exchange. They are very friendly and have a great bar on the beach from where we sat and gazed out over Carlisle Bay at the luxury cruise ship Queen Victoria at anchor while enjoying icy cold adult beverages.
Reminder: Travel today and pay tomorrow. Life is too short to wait for the right time!
This concludes Capt. Barnes’ trip report from Barbados. Next: Route 66.