Discover Cacique | Balcony House
The rakish, old school glamour of the Bahamas lives on in its colonial architecture. Step back in time and you’re sipping on rum dums, bedecked in Ferragamo, with Rothmans smoldering in the ash tray. A welcome, salty breeze billows up from the harbour to greet you at your favored watering hole - your beloved balcony.
Located in the heart of historic downtown Nassau sits “Balcony House,” constructed in the 1770’s by loyalist settlers. Having fallen through a number of well-to-do families, the home has seen a party or two in its time. As trends have come and gone, this architectural treasure has withstood the tides of time, retaining the same shade of pastel pink that is etched into the memories of many. In this episode of Discover Cacique, we delve into this charming Market Street perch, which has now been converted into a delightful museum.
Welcome, you can leave your Panama hat at the door…
A Bahamian Outpost
In its former glory, Balcony House sat amidst a lush garden and detached, limestone kitchen. The quaint outpost boasts an impressive marvelously-colonial facade. The Balcony, from which it gets is name, overlooks Market Street (formerly, Prison Lane). It is supported by “wooden knee braces,” a common architectural feature of this time.
Remarkably, the house still contains many of its original features, ranging from the grand mahogany staircase salvaged from a wrecked ship, original windows, rare “L” shaped door hinges, doorknobs, locks and keys. Even the bonafide hooks which supported the hammock that once swung in the summery breezes on the balcony, remain, while the stables were remodeled to accommodate the museums reception area.
Pastel pink in color with a smart white trimming, Balcony House is well covered with about 200 years worth of paint over the original colour of green. The building’s striking colonial wooden shutters and Georgian-style windows for the master bedroom are as aesthetically-pleasing as they are pragmatic, allowing for maximum sunlight whilst protecting from the summer's soaring temperatures and unobstructed rays.
A Museum Convert
Balcony House boasts an impressive 220 years of age and is the oldest existing wooden residential building in The Bahamas. The Central Bank of The Bahamas acquired the home in 1985 and began it’s restoration. In combination with the Department of National Archives, the property was converted into a museum in 1994.
The structure retains the majority of its original construction with a concrete foundation. The home itself was made from American cedar weather boarding and the interior was sealed with Abaco pine using the interlocking system, known as tongue and groove. The foundation strategically raises the building off the ground, to intentionally allow for prevailing winds for increased ventilation. The home’s open-joist ceiling was designed to keep the wooden construction dry.
Master of market Street Ceremonies
This pink hued relic has seen the waves of change crash on this island’s shores. It’s last owner before The Central Bank’s acquisition was a wealthy American lady, Mrs Marie Josephine Bryce, a majority shareholder in the A&P Food Store chain in the USA. Mrs Bryce hired Grace Richards Inc, a prominent New York interior design practice, whose lavish taste took the charming, island abode to new heights. Throughout its long life, this home welcomed guests from near and far. The secrets, the sip sip and the splendor that these walls harbour is enchanting. If this island home could talk, it would surely teach us all a thing or two about the fine art of entertaining!
At Cacique, we love to tell stories about the characters and places that coloured the rich tapestry of our Bahamian history. For more information on Historic Experiences with Cacique, to arrange a visit of Balcony House, or to chat about a unique venue for your event, feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to the next story! ;)SS