A FAMILY AFFAIR
With its significant importance in Barbadian History as one of the last surviving and intact plantations on the island, it is fitting that a Barbadian family, the first in its history, now owns St. Nicholas Abbey.
PRESERVING THE PAST
Larry Warren purchased St. Nicholas Abbey in 2006 from then owner, James Petri. Petri had inherited the Plantation from his uncle, Lt. Col. Stephen Cave, who had opened the house as an historic attraction in 1978. Cave dearly loved the Plantation and enjoyed entertaining visitors with home movies showing life on the plantation, photographs and stories passed down to him through generations of previous owners.
As Barbados sees more and more development with little regard for its historic or cultural integrity, Larry Warren, a local architect renowned for designing upscale residences and the prestigious Sandy Lane Hotel, pays homage to the island’s rich architectural heritage by incorporating traditional Barbadian elements in his designs.
Warren shares Cave's passion for St. Nicholas Abbey, and when it came under threat of commercial development, he and his wife, Anna, made a critical decision to purchase the property. '[Just] two weeks away from signing the purchase contract....[a foreign investor] offered to buy the place from me for an enormous sum of money' recalls Warren. 'But when he told me that he planned to build condominiums on the estate, I politely showed him the door.
'You see, I bought St. Nicholas Abbey to precisely stop this sort of thing happening,' Warren continued. ' It may have meant putting my family into debt but I passionately believe I should preserve this exciting piece of history for the present generation [as well as] for future generations to enjoy.'
Since then, the Warrens have worked diligently to restore St. Nicholas Abbey to its original splendour. With invaluable assistance from sons Simon and Shae, they have completed critical physical renovations to the property, including the great house, a project Larry Warren personally oversaw. The outbuildings have been recreated; the original stables now hold the rum, molasses and sugar bond, a small museum and a theatre where visitors can watch the fascinating home movie reels that Lt. Col. Cave loved so much. St. Nicholas Abbey has become one of the leading historic attractions on the island, popular with Barbadians and visitors alike. In 2009, visitors numbered over 19,954.