Uncommon Attraction: Ye Olde Gaol on Green Turtle Cay
Concerned about crime on your next Caribbean adventure? Then head to Green Turtle Cay in The Bahamas. There just isn’t any crime there, which should come as no surprise as the island is tiny and inhabited by a close-knit community of just 500 residents. Unlocked doors, quiet streets and tranquility are quite the norm here, with this ancient pink edifice further symbolizing the island’s peaceful nature.
Known as Ye Olde Gaol, this unmistakable attraction sits along the main road that runs downhill into New Plymouth. The island’s only basketball court, modern and in good condition, is right across the street. Green Turtle Cay’s only cemetery, looking every bit of its 220+ years, is right there too.
Tidy and well-kept, yet obviously ancient, Ye Olde Gaol splits the difference with its neighboring civic facilities, inviting inspection with its pretty pink paint job, unusual staircase to nowhere and whimsical Old English signage.
Now, as attractions go, there isn’t a whole lot to hold your attention here – no welcome video, no brochures, no tour guide.
You don’t need any of that stuff to appreciate a few minutes here, though, especially if you know a bit of Ye Olde Gaol’s history.
According to the local Architectural Preservation Foundation, the jail complex is among the oldest sets of buildings on Green Turtle Cay, probably predating all of the New Plymouth we introduced you to earlier this week. The original jail was built in the early 1800’s and was apparently much larger than what remains today.
Back then, Ye Olde Gaol was two stories high (thus, the random stairs), but not because the New Plymouth forefathers were anticipating a lot of crime in Green Turtle’s future. You see, in addition to its correctional duties, the building also served as the island’s original post office. The Commissioner’s Office was also based here, making Ye Olde Gaol the seat of government for all of North Abaco – pretty amazing when you consider Green Turtle’s small size and blissfully remote location.
That original structure was destroyed by a hurricane in 1932, leaving the curious historic attraction you can find there today.
Still, the question remains: has anyone ever been locked up here? No one seems to know for sure, and it’s been generations since the facility has even functioned as a real jail.
I tend to doubt that anyone’s ever been incarcerated at Ye Olde Gaol.
Here’s hoping that never changes…and neither does Green Turtle Cay.