This Old, Old House
A Renovation of a house at Utila’s East Harbour brings back some of the Island’s History

May 1st, 2008
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The front facade of the building that serves as a restaurant and real estate office.

The front facade of the building that serves as a restaurant and real estate office.

The building housing Munchie’s restaurant on Utila’s main street is the community’s oldest surviving structure. The house was built by Samuel Warren, who arrived on the Utila Cays in the 1830’s. Warren came to Utila from Massachusetts via Belize on a turtle hunting vessel. He brought with him a ready-to-assemble kit house made from long-leaf pine.
As late as the 1960’s and 70’s black people were not allowed to enter the house. “It is ironic that a home that a few decades ago was off limits to black people is now owned by a black person,” says Linda Halverston, an owner of the house since 2002. Linda’s husband Kurt Halverston undertook the renovation of the building that began in January 2003 and lasted until 2007.

While the building changed color several times, the new owners tried to preserve as many of the original elements as possible. There are original door and window hardware, original fencing. Honduran pine floors and metal sheet roofing were some of the new additions to the structure, but some of the original wood was reused to make furniture inside the building.
Outside the house one of the island’s last surviving wooden water tanks stands. Donated by Ms. Libby Bodden the cedar tank is held together by three metal braces and a coat of fiberglass. The house, still leaning six inches towards the sea, is full of uncommon and historical construction elements: dove-tail joinery, wooden dowels covering the square, original nails. A cladding beam had a chalk signature of Samuel Warren and a date – 1864.
The signature marks moving from the Cays and reassembly of the home in East Harbour. After 20-30 years, in 1864 and likely following a Hurricane, the home was moved. “Many people think it is a Victorian, but it is really a French Colonial,” says Pacatte. Two level with a wrap-around porch, it is a typical French Colonial feature. “Some of the wood is 200, maybe 250 years old,” says Tony Pacatte, Kurt’s business partner on the island. [/private]

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