Arts and Culture

Restoring historic Casemates Barracks in Bermuda

The Casemates Barracks were built in the late 1830s and are the second oldest surviving building of the old Royal Naval Dockyard (est. 1809). It was home to several generations of soldiers, but in 1963 it was converted into Bermuda’s maximum-security prison, which was closed in 1994. Now, the Casemates is part of the National Museum of Bermuda, which includes all the surviving fortifications of the Dockyard and the land and buildings within those historic military works.

Colonel Chip Waters, a Project Leader for the Global Day of Giving, is also a Trustee of the National Museum of Bermuda. About 20 colleagues showed up for the first Global Day of Giving in 2006 to “spend the day in jail” under the command of Chip and Director of the Museum, Dr. Edward Harris. Since then, Chip and his colleagues have returned every year to build upon their achievements from the previous Global Day of Giving.

The team of volunteers is usually deployed to work on various pre-restoration works such as demolition, general cleaning and vegetation removal. According to Chip, “The benefits of the Global Day of Giving are immense. Volunteers get a better workout on the site than they would get by going to the gym. Plus, they receive an updated education on several aspects of Bermuda’s heritage.”

Camaraderie is built through the volunteers working together as nearly the same volunteers come back each year. And the volunteers find that participating in the Global Day of Giving project develops organization and innovation skills, as they explore ways to accomplish the tasks of restoring this large set of historic buildings. “Volunteers have helped to restore one of the biggest and finest museums of its type in the Americas,” says Chip. “They have become part of the Casemates history.”

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