Bahamas Historical Society - September Update
By Jim Lawlor, BHS
Sep 22, 2015 - 2:35:07 PM
Members of the I.O.D.E. Bahamas at the I.O.D.E. Headquarters.
Photo by Mr Toogood. 21st January 1955
Front row, sitting, from left to right: Jean Thomas, Winnie Kilbride, Jean Sears, Evelyn Knowles, Kate Curry, Edna Kelly, Mrs G.W. Oliver, Pat Farrington, Mrs Arthur Sands. Other members identified in the photo are: Pam Johnstone, Olga Esfakis, Issie Russell, Mrs R.G. Collins, Florence Carey, Jean Sweeting, Flora Claridge, Una Roberts, Una Knowles, Rowena Claridge, Una Sawyer, Joyce Roberts, Jo Clarkson, Pam Raine, Mary Moseley, Claudette Waugh, Rose Holland, Grace Brown, Lillian Russell, Mrs Malone, Jeanette Roberts, Edith Cole, Marion Cole, Beulah Malone, Jeanette Sawyer, Rosalind Albury, Marie Murray, Evelyn Carey, Matie Butler, Winnie Cole, Daisy Lowe, Gwen French, Thalia Duggan, Glika Christofilis, Joan Brown, Mrs Gerald Lightbourn, Alice Farrington, Mrs P.S. Potter, Mrs H. Venn Brown, Lillian Knowles, Mrs K. Mackintosh, Mrs. T.E.H. Hutchenson, Violet Esfakis, Mrs Bertram Johnson, Mrs Charles Fernie, Kay Albury, Florrie Bethel, Grace Smith, Mrs Donald McKinney, Mrs R.J. Harris,Eunice Bethel, Florrie Bethel.
Nassau, Bahamas - To celebrate the formation of The Bahamas Historical Society on 5th October 1959, we are hosting
a week long “Open House” in the week of the 5th October. The tentative plan is to have an opening on the evening of Monday 5th October and a talk on Thursday 8th October and each day allow visitors to view power point presentations and poster displays of history along with our regular exhibits.
To this end we are inviting Committee members and interested persons to attend a
planning session on Thursday 17th September at 6 pm at the museum.
A reminder of our September talk: First talk of the 2015/2016 Season which is open to the public.
24th September 2015 – Ivan James on Hobby Horse Hall
Featuring his book
The Life and Death of Hobby Horse Hall Race Track, Lost Rich Bahamian History.
The Open House will mark the next chapter in the History of The Bahamas as we hope to recreate an interest in the importance of our history. We remind you of the history of the building in which our museum is located.
Reaching new horizons and creating new dreams.
Edited excerpts of the original IODE minutes by Jim Lawlor from the research and writing of Jane Lloyd
Jane has compiled a History of the IODE from documents in the IODE room of the Bahamas Historical Society Museum……we are hoping to publish as a book and will take advance orders.
To order contact Jane Lloyd at email@example.com
The IODE Headquarters/Bahamas Historical Society Museum
I.O.D.E.’s NEW HOME REALIZES OLD DREAM - WEDNESDAY, 12TH MARCH, 1952
The Bahamas Historical Museum building has a long history of fund raising and struggle to realize deams. The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire started raising funds to build the IODE Headquarters in 1936 and realized their dream in 1952. Facing difficulties to maintain the building they donated to The Bahamas Historical Society in 1976 and it was opened as a Museum in January 1987 – another dream come true. We have struggled since then to keep the museum maintained.
The first general meeting of the IODE Bahamas took place on 23rd May, 1901, and was held in St. Andrew’s Hall where the Queen Victoria, the Gordon and the King Edward VII chapters attended to hear the aims and objects of the Order explained. Further meetings were held in member’s homes then in the 1940s the Masonic Lodge on Bay Street.
In 1936 a fundraising campaign for a headquarters was launched under the leadership of one of the Order’s most capable and devoted members, Mrs Ralph G. Collins. On July 20th, 1939, Mrs R.G. Collins said she had bought the property on Union and Shirley Streets, known as the Weech property, for £1350.
Mr Morton Turtle has also very kindly given his time and work to begin the plan of the building. The plans for the I.O.D.E. Headquarters were completed by Mr William Castle - The plan for the building consists of a Chapter Room, Dining Hall, Kitchen and Pantry and these were to be started first and later a Theatre to be added. Mr Gordon Higgs was to be in charge of construction.
At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the Building Fund was put on hold as all IODE members were actively involved in the war effort but Mrs R.G. Collins continued to head the committee.
In March 1948, the plans for the new building were discussed at the National Chapter meeting and it was hoped that work would start as soon as prices became more stabilized.
The building would serve another important purpose in that it would provide a centre where visiting artists could perform, especially in the summer months when the larger hotels were closed.
At a joint meeting of the Executive and the Building Fund Committees of the National Chapter of the I.O.D.E., which was held on September 25th 1950. it was decided to proceed at once with the erection of the new I.O.D.E. Headquarters, to be built on the corner of Union and Shirley Streets.
On the afternoon of 7th December 1951 the Daughters of the Empire assembled to witness the laying of the corner-stone of their new Headquarters by Mrs R G Collins. The building was already partly erected.
At four o’clock the short programme was begun. The National President, Mrs Arthur Sands, M.B.E., and members of the Building Committee present, Mrs R.G. Collins, Miss Mary Moseley, M.B.E., Mrs D. Cusick, Mrs Lelslie Higgs, Mrs Harcourt Malcolm, Mrs P.M. Lightbourn and Mrs R.M. Millar stood along the eastern wall of the building and on either side stood the standard bearers Miss Rosamund Roberts, Mrs D. Holland, Mrs H. Johnson, Miss Alice Farrington, Mrs J. Anderson and Mrs R. Wightman. The Regents of the Chapters, Mrs R.P. Dyer, Mrs Kenneth Butler, Mrs Paul Potter and Mrs J. Cole and the officers of the National Chapter, Mrs Jean Sears, 2nd Vice-President, Miss A.S. Crawford and Miss W. Kilbride, Hon. Secretaries and Mrs George Oliver, Hon. Treasurer, stood in other groups while behind them were the members of the various Chapters.
Mrs Sands said: “This is a proud and happy occasion for all of us, and a fitting climax to our Golden Jubilee Year. At last our building has become a reality and is no longer just a castle in the air.
The official opening of the new headquarters of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire at the corner of Shirley and Union Streets on Wednesday, 12th March 1952 by Mrs Arthur Sands, President of the I.O.D.E. in The Bahamas, fulfilled a 15 year old dream of the members of the I.O.D.E. Bahamas..
With the new I.O.D.E. building accepted as a great asset to the Colony, members of the I.O.D.E. take great pride in the fruition of their dream and efforts.
In April 1974, Miss Barbara Brown was elected President of the I.O.D.E. Bahamas. In an attempt to straighten out the financial affairs of the Order in regard to the future of the I.O.D.E. Hall, Miss Brown sought the legal advice of Mr Godfrey Kelly. It was suggested that, because the I.O.D.E. had been unsuccessful in finding a purchaser for the hall, it might be possible to give the building to e.g. the Bahamas Historical Society, under certain terms and conditions.
Since the building was listed at $180,000, there had been no firm offers. The present Government valuation was $122,080. Members therefore recommended that Miss Brown advertise in the daily press giving the Government evaluation and stating that any reasonable offer would be considered. If, after a reasonable period, no buyer was found, the members agreed that the Hall should be given to the Bahamas Historical Society with the following stipulations:
Dr Paul Albury, President of The Bahamas Historical Society in February 1976 gladly accepted the offer of the building. Miss Brown informed members that an agreement of the conditions would be attached to the conveyance. Members were in agreement that the Hall should be donated as it had become increasingly difficult, due to the decrease in membership, to continue to raise sufficient funds to meet the cost of upkeep of the Hall, Real Property Tax and continue to carry out other fundraising commitments.
- That the building will always be called the I.O.D.E. Building.
- That the platform will become the archives of the Order. In this way there would be a continuing monument to the I.O.D.E. Bahamas.
- That the I.O.D.E. may hold their meetings in the building as long as the I.O.D.E. exists in The Bahamas. (sadly they ceased to exist in 2005)
On May 5th, 1976, the President, Miss Barbara Brown, called a meeting of the Order to ensure that the conditions of the deed of gift to the Historical Society were correct and approved by members.
Dr. Albury, speaking on behalf of The Bahamas Historical Society, said,
"we now have dimensions of opportunity greater than any we have ever known, and are able to look out on horizons more beautiful than we have ever seen."
Now in 2015, we have to still reach out to those horizons and fulfill those dreams handed down to us.
The Bahamas Historical Society (BHS)
a non-profit organization dedicated to stimulating interest in Bahamian
History and to the collection and preservation of material relating
thereto. Its Headquarters, the former IODE Hall, was a gift from the
Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE). BHS is on Shirley
Street and Elizabeth Avenue in Nassau.
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