Barbados beach    What’s better than taking an architectural tour? Taking one where sandy beaches warm your feet and crystal blue water washes ashore. Nicola Springer, Vice President at Kirksey, hosted a “home island” tour of her home country of Barbados organized through the Rice Design Alliance (RDA).

Attendees enjoyed a four-day educational (and – let’s be honest – jealousy-inducing) trip to Barbados in February where they toured famous structures of the history-rich country and enjoyed a few local customs. Located off the coast of Venezuela, Barbardos is a small, but not insignificant island, with a current population of almost 270,000. Settled by the English in 1627, much of the architecture reflects British style and grandeur.

 Beach photo taken by Kirksey's Linda Camacho. All other photographs provided by Nicola Springer. 

DAY ONE ---------------------------------------------------------------------

Barbados_Bush Hill HouseThe Bush Hill House, Historic Bridgetown

On the first day, the group visited Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, a part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and a World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 17th century, this old town represents the growth and success of Great Britain’s Atlantic colonial empire.

The Bush Hill House, famous for having a certain George Washington stay as a guest, still reflects the early colonial style architecture and has been recently restored. While caring for his ill brother in 1751, George Washington rented the house (which he felt was too expensive at ₤15 a month) from Captain Crofton, the commander of James Fort in Bridgetown. His six weeks in Barbados exposed him to the military prowess of the Brits as well as built up his immunity to certain diseases.


Barbados_Parliament (2)Parliament
Barbados was settled by the British in 1627.  The first meeting of the assembly was held in 1639 these meetings would take places in local taverns and other such buildings before an official Parliament building was established.  Many visitors often mistake these buildings for a church, the buildings are made from local limestone (coral stone) and were designed in the neo-gothic style. The east and West Wings of the Houses of Parliament were completed between 1870-1874. Slate floors and ironwork came from England, while local mahogany was the finish used for the wall paneling and furnishings of the chambers. With this long history, Barbados is the second oldest in the hemisphere.  

DAY TWO ---------------------------------------------------------------------   Barbados_Cordrington College1
Cordrington College, St. John, Barbados
Day two took the group to Cordrington College, located in St. John. Now a theological seminary, Cordrington was founded by funds and donated land from Christopher Codrington after his death in 1710. The college opened in 1745. In 1830, the college was then bequeathed to be a seminary and train students for ordination. Sir Henry Fraser, the leading architectural historian of Barbados, led the tour. A bit overcast with occasional showers and a strong, cool breeze, the weather was almost more reminiscent of the English countryside, and an interesting way to observe the college with its strong classical and Palladian references.

Barbados_Chattel House  Traditional Chattel House, Barbados Heritage Village

The group toured several different examples of a traditional “chattel house,” a small vernacular building type that is slowly fading from the scene as more people prefer their current homes to be made of concrete. There are several styles of a chattel house, ranging from a decorated Victorian-esque style to a more humble version of wood-weathered planks and shingles. 

Barbados_Chattel House_humbleHumble Chattel House
One example of a humble chattel house.                    

DAY THREE ---------------------------------------------------------------------   Barbados_White House
Barbados' Own "White House" This “White House” serves as the official residence of the Governor General Sir Elliot Belgrave. With the help of Captain Lovell, his Aide de Camp, along with a Ms. Watson, the official Secretary and under the guidance of Sir Henry Fraser again, the tour group was able to see and tour this splendid house built in 1702 by a Quaker.

  Barbados_Pelican Village MusicPelican Village Craft Centre & Local Music Making their way into Pelican Village, a local shopping center and hub for artisans and craft designers, the group was able to test their musical chops at the steel pan. This melodic instrument gains its reputation as being one of the few instruments to come to being in the 20th century and provides a wonderful story of how wit and innovation helped find a replacement for the traditional drum.           

DAY FOUR ---------------------------------------------------------------------   Barbados_St Nicholas Abbey  
St. Nicholas Abbey After a good breakfast accompanied by a rousing gospel music group, the tour traveled up the East coast one last time and stopped in the parish of St. Peter. Built in 1658, the St. Nicholas Abbey was designed in the Jacobean style and is one of only three homes of that particular style in the hemisphere. The grounds are beautiful, with a plethora of tropical plants and birds. Nicola captured a photo of a flowering buttercup tree.