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Volunteers preserve our past at Mr. Arthur’s by Eugene Bonthuys – Cayman Observer, July 8, 2008
Photo: The group of volunteers take time out in the shade (by Jewel Levy)
“It is just awesome to see all these people on their day off out there out there to help our little old store???, was all Ms. Arthur Lyn Scott could say as she watched the swarm of more than 30 volunteers from The Phoenix Group, Corporate Electric and The Security Centre descend on her tiny 7-11 grocery mart on Saturday morning.
“We never in a million years could have afforded all this material and labour,??? she said. Armed with scrapers, paintbrushes, toolboxes, electrical and security gear, the team, which included family (and eight children) of the volunteers, spent a good part of the day applying some much needed TLC to the 110-year-old structure. “We were first alerted to the heritage building’s need for attention by Mike Barcroft through the Marl Road website,??? said Michael Hunt, the project’s coordinator from Phoenix Construction. “There had been some break-ins that pointed to some deficiencies in the building and when we went around to see if we could help, we saw there was a lot more that needed to be addressed??? he said.
Managing Director of The Phoenix Group Shayne Howe pointed out that “While the Group’s Lend A Hand Programme does not, as a matter of policy, assist commercial enterprises, this important part of Cayman’s heritage could not be overlooked.
“We were especially pleased when Mike Auld of Corporate Electric and Stuart Bostock of The Security Centre recognised the importance of the work and volunteered to join us as well??? Denise Bodden of the National Trust, who was on hand to photograph the work and provide encouragement said, “It is encouraging from both a professional and a personal level to see the assistance they offered towards the maintenance of such an important historic structure. Considering I grew up next door to Mr. Arthur and his wife Alex Bodden’s home, print shop and store, it was a real pleasure to know that the community also appreciates it as much as I do.???
Mr. Arthur’s is the longest running retail store in the Cayman Islands. The volunteer group was disappointed to hear that the sales volume of the store had dropped off fairly sharply since Ivan.
“Times are tough and we have seen it in our traffic. It is getting harder all the time to make it, but we are not giving up. I just love this old store,??? said Arthurlyn.
She has, in fact, received a commitment from the next generation of Boddens to carry on the tradition, despite the families’ concerns regarding the proposed port going in right next door.
Her main concern is with regard to the way the sea will impact her land with a major series of piers proposed adjacent to her. “I won’t have a store here at all unless they have some sort of plan to protect the neighbouring buildings and the roadway along here – the sea will just come in and take it away,??? she lamented.
The organisers of the event are encouraging the Cayman public to reintroduce themselves to one of Cayman’s national treasures in Mr. Arthur’s 7-11, whether to stop in for a daily newspaper, grocery top-up or just to be reminded what service was like in days past and help preserve this piece of Cayman’s past well into Cayman’s future.
“We never in a million years could have afforded all this material and labour.??? Arthur Lyn Scotts.