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Central George Town is home to an abundance of fun shops, delicious restaurants, and breathtaking ocean views, but did you know George Town is also home to some unique and interesting historic sites? Next time you’re in town on a mission to shop ‘til you drop, take some time to see these amazing historic places!

Mr. Arthur’s Home and Print Shop

At 186 North Church Street, you’ll find a small home and print shop that now operates as a general store. This small, white shiplap shop could be missed if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The shop offers a glimpse at Grand Cayman’s historical architecture and is the perfect place to stop if you need some snacks and drinks while walking through town.

Built in the late 1800s, the store was originally Mr. Arthur’s Home and Print Shop, owned by Arthur Bodden and his family. Known for his spotless white shirt, cap and pipe, Arthur was the first wireless operator and weather specialist on Grand Cayman. The print shop across from his home operated for more than 50 years printing Cayman Islands Government stationary.

Fort George

If you've ever noticed the wooden hut on a tall pole in George Town, you might have wondered where it came from. It’s a unique sight to see while strolling the shops on Harbour Drive, but this small site has a lot of tales to tell.

The hut is actually what remains of Fort George. Fort George was built sometime around the 1790s as a means to protect the island. It’s not clear whether Fort George ever successfully warded off an attack, but it was manned by local militias for many years. Eventually, the site was mostly abandoned and the sand-bottomed fort became a play area for children at the neighboring school. During World War II, a lookout hut was added to a silk cotton tree and was used by watchmen to monitor for German U-boats that commonly patrolled the Caribbean. It was abandoned after the war.

When a developer began to demolish the dilapidated Fort George in 1972, locals dedicated to protecting Grand Cayman’s history protested by standing in front of the remaining structure and eventually saved it.

Now a National Trust protected site, a replica of the lookout house was constructed using pieces of the original that had crumbled over years with no upkeep; it is now one of the more prominent features of a stroll through town, and one passersby ask many questions about.

When you visit, you’ll want to check out the three-panel mural painted by local artist John Broad that depicts three events that represent the strong history of both Fort George and Grand Cayman: an attack by Spanish marauders, a U-boat bombing, and an Easter Regatta.

George Town Step Well

Perhaps one of the easiest sites to miss and most unique in downtown George Town is the George Town Step Well.

When you’re picking out a souvenir cap at Outlet Embroidery Shop in Bayshore Mall, make sure you look at your feet. Viewable through a pane of glass, the George Town Step Well is believed to be one of four freshwater wells recorded in Grand Cayman in the 1700s. The well likely served as the main water source for residents of Hog Sty Bay and ships that docked at the port. The well was discovered by developers in 2003 and was excavated by local archeologists who found remnants of 18th-century pottery, glass, and other treasures. You can even see some of these artifacts outside the shop. The Grand Cayman Water Authority also found the water at the bottom of the well was perfectly good to drink today!

Take a Walk Through Time

If you’re interested in learning more about the history and cultural background of Grand Cayman, these unique sites are must-sees, even if they’re hard to spot at first. Next time you’re wandering through George Town, make sure you take some time to take a trip back in time at these amazing sites.

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Get to know Grand Cayman better by treating yourself to a day of Cayman History. We've rounded up five fascinating, historical attractions (some well known and some not) that you can see in a single day trip. Check them out below!

Pedro St. James Castle

Pedro St. James CastlePedro St. James Castle is a Cayman "Great House," and a great place to see what life was like in old Cayman. The house was originally built in the late 1700's and has been lovingly restored to its original 18th Century glory with period furniture and historical displays throughout its three stories.

The house was built by a wealthy Englishman using Jamaican slave labor, and at the time there were only about 500 people living on the island. Most of the houses around the property were little "wattle and daub" single level homes. Imagine the attention this "castle" must have garnered!

Pedro St. James is perched upon a beautiful beachfront area of South Sound. History buffs and novices alike will adore this site for both its beautiful views and grand stories. Self-guided and guided tours are available with fees ranging from CI$5 to CI$15.

Nurse Leila's House

Nurse Leila's House was purchased by the National Trust in 2006 due as much to Leila's historical contributions to the island as the structure's historical significance itself.

midwives houseThe beloved Nurse Leila was a Caymanian nurse, midwife, columnist and church activist. As midwife, Nurse Leila delivered over 1000 Cayman babies in West Bay, many of which were born in this house and still live on the island today.

The house itself is one of a few "wattle and daub" houses left on the island and the only one of its kind owned by the National Trust. It's currently undergoing a full restoration, but you can drive by and check it out on West Church Street just past the four way stop in West Bay. There's a sign with additional details at the front of the property. This one is a quick feel-good stop!

Mission House

The Mission House is a traditional, two-story Cayman home located in the heart of Bodden Town. The house was built in the 1700's and became popularly known as the Mission House during the 1800's, due to the missionaries, teachers and families that lived there and helped establish the local Presbyterian school and ministry in Bodden Town. Guided tours are available by appointment only, so make sure to call 749-1123 or email mission@nationaltrust.org.ky to schedule your tour ahead of time. Entry fees are CI$8 for adults or CI$4 for children with groups of 4 or more.

Historic Step Well

If you stumbled upon this site unknowingly, you might not think much of it. Its story is what makes it so interesting. This historic well is believed to be one of four wells documented on a British surveyor's map from the early 1700's where ships would stop to stock up on fresh water. What's most interesting about this site, though, is that it was completely lost until 2003 when it was discovered on the site of a development project. The property owner decided to partner with the Cayman Islands National Museum to preserve this treasure by building around it.

So now, the step well is located in the middle of a shop in the Bayshore Mall in Georgetown (located on S Church Street). You can walk into the shop and find the well beneath a glass encasement. You can safely walk on the glass cover and peer down into the well. What's even better is that the water in the well has been rated good enough to drink still today!

Fort George

Fort George, nestled in the capital city of Georgetown, dates back as far as the 1700's and has been used as recently as WWII. The fort was originally built to fend off potential Spanish attacks from the shores of nearby Cuba. A lookout house assembled of original doors and windows plus other historical salvage material from the island sits in a cotton tree at the fort. The lookout house was built to resemble one that locals used at the fort to watch for German submarines during WWII. Fort George can be found at the corner of Harbour Drive and Fort Street and is free to visit.

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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Grand Cayman! Christmas lights, holiday concerts, shopping and more are taking place across the island as Caymanians and Christmas vacationers alike are anticipating the big day.

Santa Spottings on Grand Cayman

Santa arrived by plane last Saturday at the airport park at Grand Cayman International airport and brought lots of joy to the kids on the island. Santa has also been making weekly appearances at Camana Bay on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Gardenia Court. We hear he'll be there every Thursday through December 18th. You can get your traditional Santa photos then! 

Even Santa needs a break! He's been sporting his island wear on Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on "The Island" in Camana Bay and is posing for Caribbean Style Santa Photos, too. Come join the fun on Saturdays through December 20th.

Camana Bay Christmas Events

Camana Bay has no lack in Christmas Spirit. This community is chalk full of holiday cheer and events. Aside from both Traditional and Caribbean Santa Photos, they're featuring a weekly Moonlight and Movies Christmas Series on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. in Gardenia Court. Show up early because you won't want to miss the snow that falls in Camana Bay every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Movies and snow run through December 23rd. There are a plethora of other events going on this Christmas season at Camana Bay so make sure to check out the calendar on their website for all the jolly details. Launch Camana Bay Holiday Calendar >>

Christmas at The Fort

Enjoy Christmas carols, tree lighting and all kinds of gifts at the newly renovated Fort George during Christmas at the Fort on Thursday, December 11th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and special performances by local artists! Event is FREE!

Christmas Decorations at Botanic Park

Nature and Christmas come together at the Botanic Park during the holiday season. See the already gorgeous park decorated for Christmas with a visit to their grounds.

Decorated Homes

Driving to see elaborately decorated homes on the island is a favorite holiday activity for many. The most popular homes are the Bodden sisters' home in the South Sound and the Crighton home and garden near Savannah. They go all out and have been decorating their homes for years. The Bodden sisters often greet people outside of their home, and I read in the Cayman Christmas Catalog that the Crighton family takes 6 weeks to decorate their home! 

Holiday Concerts

Many enjoy attending Christmas themed concerts at churches across the island. The East End United Church Hall will hold an "Old Fashion Treasured Christmas" on December 13th. Entry is $10 and the event includes skits, caroling, games, poems, memory gems, food and more. They suggest bringing a gift for the charity box. St. Ignatius will host a Candlelight Carol Service on December 17th with bands, choirs and readings for the season. Find more details on the Cayman Compass calendar.

Dashing Thru the Sand

Dashing Thru the Sand, one of our guest favorites, is an annual event that takes place the day after Christmas. It's a 1.5 mile walk/run on Seven Mile Beach. The fun starts at 7:30 a.m. Registration includes a t-shirt, breakfast at the end of the route and lots of prizes. The route starts just North of Hemingway's Restaurant at the Hyatt and runs North to Calico Jacks. Cost is CI$25. More details here.

Cayman Christmas Traditions

Aside from the many Christmas activities on Grand Cayman there are also some really cool traditions from times past. I found this great article on the Cayman Islands Tourism Association's website about Caymanian Christmas traditions. The Sand Yards sound particularly fun and interesting.

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