During my last visit to Green Turtle Cay, I had a long chat with Bahamian artist Alton Lowe about the Albert Lowe Museum — specifically, the structure in which it’s housed. Turns out that the museum building’s history is as fascinating as the artifacts displayed inside.

Albert Lowe Museum, Abaco, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
Albert Lowe Museum, Green Turtle Cay

Built in 1825 by the Roberts family (who owned a department store on the property where Sid’s Grocery is now located), this two-story Loyalist home features traditional gingerbread-trimmed porches, dormer windows and one of the only cellars on the cay.

Upstairs Bedroom at Museum
Upstairs Bedroom in the Albert Lowe Museum
Photo by Tom Walters

As was common at the time, the house has a separate kitchen building (which remains fully functional), as well as a four-hole latrine. The latter was an indication of the family’s wealth, since it offered correctly sized holes for men, women and children.

Kitchen Building
Separate Kitchen and Latrine Building – Albert Lowe Museum

During the 19th century, when wrecking was a mainstay of the local economy, goods salvaged from shipwrecks were stored in and sold from the house’s cellar (which now serves as the museum’s Wrecker’s Gallery.)

Later in the 19th century, future British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain lived here as a young man prior to purchasing his own home on the cay.

E. Willis Bethel Photo: Albert Lowe Museum
E. Willis Bethel
Photo: Albert Lowe Museum

And in the early 20th century, when merchant ships sailed from New Plymouth to New York packed with pineapples and returned laden with dry goods and other supplies, the stars and stripes flew over the house’s porch as it served as residence and office for U.S. Consul, E. Willis Bethel.

When the 1932 hurricane demolished New Plymouth’s library, this house – one of just a handful of structures in the settlement to survive the storm – served as a library until a new one could be built.

Sadly, by the mid-1970s, the Roberts house had fallen into disrepair. It was being rented out as office space when Alton purchased the home and set about its restoration.

He scoured the Bahamas for architectural elements – like porch spindles from a historic home in Nassau – that were true to the house’s vintage, as well as historically accurate reproduction pieces – such as gingerbread trim, hand-made by his brother, Leonard Lowe.

A year later, before Bahamian, American and British dignitaries and hundreds of onlookers, Alton opened the Albert Lowe Museum — the first museum in the Bahamas.

Sir Clement Maynard Cuts Ribbon
Alton Lowe looks on as the Hon. Clement Maynard, Bahamas Minister of Tourism,
cuts the ribbon to open the Albert Lowe Museum.

Named in honour of Alton’s father, a well-known model ship maker, the museum’s mission was to preserve Bahamian and Abaconian history and serve as an educational tool for young Bahamians.

Opening Day, Albert Lowe Museum Photo: Albert Lowe Museum
Opening Day, Albert Lowe Museum
Photo: Albert Lowe Museum

Today, the museum showcases three centuries’ worth of paintings, sculptures, writings, models, photographs and other artifacts documenting the lives of the Lucayan Indians who first inhabited these islands, and the Loyalists and their slaves who settled here after fleeing post-revolutionary America.

It’s a diverse and fascinating collection, housed in a building that’s played a key role in New Plymouth history for nearly 200 years.

Model ship by Albert Lowe, on display in the museum
Model ship by Albert Lowe on display at the museum
Photo by Tom Walters

Save

10 thoughts on “The Story of the Albert Lowe Museum

  • March 21, 2014 at 11:31 pm
    Permalink

    Good presentation, Amanda! Thank you. Tom’s photos capture the tale. Joy Lowe Jossi

    Reply
    • August 11, 2019 at 6:17 pm
      Permalink

      I have three photos sketched in pencil that your father did Albert Lowe they are Connolly’s Tavern call Natchez and I’m not sure what the other two are cuz I’m I’m not at home right now but I really like your response on this tell me what it’s worth

      Reply
      • August 30, 2019 at 12:47 pm
        Permalink

        Hi, Karen. Thanks for your note. Would you mind using the CONTACT ME function above to send me an email with further info? Albert Lowe was not my father – he was the father of Alton Lowe, but I’d be happy to send a message along to Alton. I’m not sure the Albert Lowe to whom you refer was in fact Alton’s dad, but Alton would know for sure. Thanks.

    • August 30, 2019 at 12:46 pm
      Permalink

      Hi, Karen. Could you use the CONTACT ME function to send me more information? Albert Lowe is actually the father of Alton Lowe, but I’ll certainly pass the information on to Alton. (I’m not 100% sure it’s the same Albert Lowe, but Alton would know for sure.) Thanks.

      Reply
  • March 22, 2014 at 6:40 am
    Permalink

    i just love your gentle & informative history lessons! keep it up, Amanda

    Reply
    • March 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, Linda. I learn something new about GTC every day I’m there, and I love sharing it with all my fellow GTC lovers!

      Reply
  • March 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm
    Permalink

    A beautifully informative piece on the museum, thank you Amanda.

    Reply
  • March 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm
    Permalink

    hello little house by the ferry its dennis the vizsla dog hay dada sez if that wer a bed and brekfast insted of a myoozeum he wood like to stay their!!! mmmm brekfast!!! ok bye

    Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: