The Botanical Garden Board of Governors takes their charge seriously that the historic ruins in our botanical setting are relics that should be maintained and protected. As Dewey Hollister, Executive Director observed, “What we are assigned to is not human history but human responsibility”.
One of the earliest maps of 1750 shows a settlement of a dwelling house and five small slave houses. It was surrounded by sugar cane fields but lacked a sugar mill. Two owners later, maps show the presence of an animal mill for grinding the cane. Moving up to 1777 John and Sarah Heyliger bought the property and named this land St George. The Heyligers added several new structures: a windmill, a slave hospital, and 24 new slave houses. Later owners added a water mill, a reservoir and aqueduct with 39 arches, 33 stone cottages, and 4 stone row houses for the enslaved. Also Stables, lime kiln, rainwater cistern kitchen, sick house, privy and pigeon house, small House, steam Mill, and the main event, the Sugar Works all came into being. The Managers House, the Overseers House, and the Blacksmith Shop are some of the most prominent structures on the property today.
Attention has recently been paid to the Overseers House as temperature change, rain, hurricanes and time have all taken their toll on the structure. Cracks and leaning walls threatened to collapse the structure.
The Board was awarded a CFVI grant to help with the project. The grant has provided funds to pay for stabilizing one of the few remaining historical buildings in the garden. It afforded the garden the ability to hire historical architects to stabilize the structure. For now, rafter ties were added to resist the outward thrust of the rafters. Cables will be added to the building end to end to stop the outer end walls from separating. For now the structure is secure.