Man-O-War Heritage Museum

Preserving History & Heritage on a tiny Island.


End of the year

What an interesting couple of years we have had. Sometimes it was a real struggle to get through the day. But Man-O-War people are known for their fortitude, courage through adversity, and love for community. And that’s putting it mildly!

Man-O-War is definitely on the road to recovery. We have electricity full time, well almost 😉. Docks are being built, property is being bought and sold, it’s an exciting time on the island.

Annie has the sail shop up and running in the temporary location right across the street, Joe’s studio is open, Man-O-War grocery is fully stocked, both boat yards are buzzing with activity, Russel’s has fresh bread and goodies, G&L ferry has a regular schedule to and from Man-O-War, The Ferry has runs from Marsh Harbour, Albury Brothers is back in production, Andy’s shop is open, the gas pump is serving customers, the water maker is busy, the Hardware is fully stocked, lots of construction going on, there are a couple of places to rent a boat, and the museum/coffee shop is back to normal hours! If that’s not progress, then I don’t know what is. We are missing the restaurant, but many locals have stepped up and are cooking. So you can join MOW eats on Facebook, or MOW eats WhatsApp group.

And about the museum. It has come to my attention that some people are still unaware of its ownership. The Man-O-War Heritage Museum and Coffee Shop has always belonged to the community. Meaning it has never been in any one persons name. The vision of this wonderful place started with one or two people, but it has always belonged and will always belong to the community. There have been a few die hard volunteers, but in the end, it belongs to the people of Man-O-War Cay. So when the mortgage is satisfied, the Community/Board members will have to decide it’s future. Keep in mind that ANYONE can be on the board and we encourage you to get involved and help shape the future of your museum. Organizations like this are always looking for fresh new ideas and energy to move forward.

But my time on Man-O-War has come to an end. I have obligations in the States and am moving to North Carolina Christmas Eve. So if you are ever in Raleigh, stop by and say hi. I’m leaving the museum/coffee shop in very good hands but help is always needed, so I hope you will take this opportunity to help serve the community that we all love. It has been an absolute joy to live on Man-O-War Cay, and being a part of the museum is a very proud accomplishment for me.

With much love and appreciation, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Chana Albury

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In all the tragedy, loss, and hardship after the storm, there blooms hope, clarity and growth. This isn’t going to be a sappy tear jerking post, just one of gratitude.

It’s clear that Abaco and MOW specifically have an inner strength that comes from humble beginnings. Life wasn’t easy for our fore fathers AND mothers. It takes will, determination and grit to accomplish what we have over the last 100 years. And we aren’t going to let a “little” storm keep us down. I say “little” tongue in cheek of course, but you get my point. The recovery and rebuilding effort are amazing. I see improvements every day. And maybe I’m too close to the situation to notice the destruction, or maybe I’m just too optimistic to let it get to me. But progress is happening! And we should be SO proud of what we have done. Not only have we figured out how to survive with out electricity, and lots of modern conveniences, we have also learned how to deal with the virus of the century that has effected the whole world. And when I say “we”, I mean you too! Can I get a high five 🖐

But this is about gratitude. My sense of gratitude these last couple of months is for the Museum. I’m so grateful and in debt to the people that helped get this little idea off the ground. For the people that made it happen physically, for the community that came to cook outs and fund raiser, and especially for the families that have donated items for display. Where would those display items be now, after the storm, if they weren’t nestled into the old family homestead that was the Sweeting’s “Home sweet Home” for all those years? How that building stayed standing when the tiny shed not 2 feet away was swept up and totally disappeared like it was in the wizard of Oz is unreal. But not one item inside the museum was lost….. Call it fate or divine intervention, or luck, but know that I am very grateful it’s still there.

So with gratitude and a dizzying amount of optimism, we move forward, upward and onward, together. Life is slowly returning to normal, and we are even going to have our yearly Independence day celebration! If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, maybe the fireworks at the end of the day will. If you are in the neighborhood, come celebrate with us, and come take a look at our Museum.


Well, it’s been interesting…..

The coffee shop and Museum have gained in popularity since our opening two years ago February. Several Facebook pages mentioned us and the cruisers net started promoting us all on their own! But word of mouth has been our most effective advertising. So many nice comments by customers and by far our most popular seller is our cinnamon roll. Ohhhed and awwwed over by young and old, and bakery owners too! Yes, we had a bakery owner from the UK, try one and he said it was the best he has ever had! We will take that comment any day!! We were also mentioned on the World Wide Web, as one of the 10 best Museums in the country. It’s a small mention, but hey, we were mentioned!!

The coffee shop has been fully embraced by the locals. We have hosted a couple of events and it is now a popular meeting spot, which was the plan all along. As one resident said, “it’s an important place where everyone can go to relax, meet friends, or just try to to regain a sense or normalcy”. and right now MOW is anything but normal. In fact everyone is trying to re-invent normal, and honestly it has been a challenge.

After the history making storm turned our lives quite literally upside down, we have been shown so much love, kindnesses and generosity from the entire world. Far too many NGO’s and private groups to mention, for fear of leaving anyone out, but the one that can not go un-noticed is Samaritans Purse. They swooped in saved the day. What an amazing organization. I shutter to think where we would be today without them. I’m sure everyone has seen photos of the destruction we sustained, but now we want to focus on the rebuilding and reorganizing. Things are improving everyday. Bahamas Power and Light is installing power lines and transformers and, most businesses are up and running. Maybe a little differently than before September 1st, but at least they are operational. Unfortunately we lost quite a few historical landmarks. Church corner is gone. The former home of the Museum, the old Methodist church are gone, well as the home across the street which originally belonged to Fleetie and Eddie, are all gone, and that is a huge loss to our visual history.

But, we are standing tall! The shed that was less than two feet away is no where to be seen, but the Museum is still here! In fact Ann got in there a few weeks after the storm and cleaned it top to bottom. No nook or cranny left un touched. She did a remarkable job. Then she opened up and served coffee, tea and breakfast for free to anyone who came in. The Heritage Center really was the center of activity and a welcome spot to sit and rest, or plan the days work ahead. She did an amazing job and had many helpers and volunteers to whom we are all extremely grateful. We lost part of our roof and our storage shed with our bathroom is just gone. No sign of it or most of the things inside, including a large chest freezer! Poof, disappeared! At some point, when we can raise the money, we will build the storage shed, bathroom, and boat shed which was already in the planning stages before the storm. We feel now, more than ever, it is so important to restore and preserve our heritage, and the boat shed is a very important piece of our historical puzzle. Our lovely garden is slowly coming back, there is lots of greenery and many flowers are blooming in spite of the continuous wind, and that goes for most of the island.

Dorian left a scar but the healing has begun. It’s going to take a while, but we are all well on our way. If you have a friend or loved one on the island, give them a call, text, or write an encouraging message. We can all use a little love kindness these days. It’s always nice to know someone is thinking of you.

Thank you to our many supporters and friends. If you would like to make a donation to the museum and our upcoming project, please do so here. :// There is also a website to make donations for infrastructure on the island and several personal gofundme pages. I also believe there will be another fund set up to specifically help the people of MOW in the near future.

Having said all of that, we need YOU to come back to Man-O-War. Come back to help our economy get back on track. Come back to the place you have always loved. Come back to vacation, or fix up your family’s second home, or help fix a residents home. Come for the summer and eat ice cream, rent a boat and enjoy our beautiful pristine beaches, visit friends made long ago, or make new ones! The possibilities are endless! Just make sure you are healthy 😉, and the Corona virus is long gone. We thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and the help so many have already given. Hope to see ya soon!


Long overdue!

I apologize for my absence, but we have been kinda busy running a coffee shop and Museum! Yep, we finally did it. Our opening day was February 17, flea market day, and what a day! I never dreamed we would be so busy! Along with all the wonderful visitors, we had our Prime Minister, his wife and entourage as well. And since that day we have kept pretty busy. We even had the ex prime minister stop in one day for coffee.

With the outside looking pretty and the garden coming back to its former beauty we are officially open for business.

There are a few minor adjustments to be made, but over all it’s looking beautiful.

Inside is coming together as well. This is what you see when you walk into the coffee shop. Our concrete counters are a real source of conversation and the Abaco pine floor is beautiful.

The wall we kept looks perfect in this space.

And the view looking outside isn’t bad either.

The first room in the Museum was small so we had to really figure out what would be best in the space available. And so far, the collection of wedding dresses fits perfectly.

On the left is Mrs. Patricia’s, then the mystery dress, and the one on the far right was worn by 4 brides! Look how beautiful it still is! The mystery dress was believed to belong to Mrs. Mary, but on further inspection it appears that it is not. We are still on the look out for the owner. If you recognize this dress in some old photos, let us know who it belongs to.

As you exit this room and go to the left, this room has a charming old bed and our built in cabinets to hold little treasures.

We were also gifted this beautiful old portrait. Can you guess who is in the painting? A little hint…. it’s one of the men who started the Ferry service in the fifty’s… Mr. Ritchie! It’s a wonderful painting. Unfortunately we don’t have anything in the Museum to represent the Ferry service other than 4 small tokens. So if you have any Ferry memorabilia, we would love to display it in the museum.

The other room on the ground floor is where we are showcasing the boat building on the island. Uncle Will and some of the other boat builders have photos and hand tools on display

Billy made a display case out of old ship windows to show our visitors pieces of the wreck the Adirondack. People are still finding items washed ashore or imbedded in the rock!

We had to get creative in where we put the stairs, but in the end it worked out well to have them in the room where the dresses are. They are in the same place as where they used to be, but on the opposite side of the building. And Doug Foust was the designer and builder of the stairs.

Upstairs is where the Sweeting children slept. 10 of the 12 children lived in this house with Percy and Venie.

The old softball uniform is from Michael Albury. I was pretty shocked to find out it’s made of flannel! Soooo hot! We also have some photos and history of our little all age school up there.

The items we have upstairs are not displayed as it would have been lived in. But is the best way for us to display them.

This flag, laid on the iron bed, is actually one of the original flags from the 1940’s with the motto from Sir Woods Rogers, the governor of the Bahamas at the time. Expulsion piratis, restitution commercia. Expel the pirates, restore commerce.

We also have the privilege of displaying Mrs. Lola’s sign and bread pans! She isn’t able to bake anymore, but Donny & Nancy Riley had those treasures and let us have them for display.

Just at the top of the stairs on the left is the hand made wooden tub from Martha Roberts. Her father Mr. Haziel made it for his children. I believe it is the only one on Man-O-War. We have had several school groups come to the museum, and the question I get asked the most is, “how did they not get splinters in their bottom when they bathed”! My answer is it probably had a better paint job than it has now. 😊

Tucked into the slope of the roof we have a few of the children items. The clothes are hand made from Edith Weatherford’s collection and the cute little yellow suit belonged to Glen Albury!

And I think that’s it for the guided tour. I have tried to include as many photos as I could and really hope you get a feel for the building. It has turned into a very quaint little Museum with an awesome addition of a popular coffee shop.

This project has been a long time coming. We have had hiccups along the way, but nothing we couldn’t handle. And now it’s a thriving busy place on our island, and somewhere I hope you want to come visit soon.

If you would like to make a donation to the Museum you can do so through PERC for tax credit, or contact us directly at P.O. Box Ab22955, MOW cay, Bahamas.


Sooo…. close!

We are so close I can even smell the coffee cappuccino!!


Yes, that is our very first cappuccino with our new machine.  We are so grateful for the donation of this beautiful piece of equipment.   It is a very generous donation, but something we feel is essential to the coffee shop.

We have done SO much since our last blog post, and I want to bring you up to speed as best I can.

We left off last time with the sub floor going in, so we will start with the necessary pieces being put in to receive the beautiful Abaco Pine floor which was also donated by the mill in Marsh Harbour.  Billy has worked tirelessly on this project and he is the one who put in these necessary pieces.


The beautiful floor was delivered and the coffee shop floor was installed by Mark Albury.


Mark’s attention to detail is evident in his installation.


Doug and Warren worked their magic in installing the flooring in the front two rooms.  It just amazes me what these guys can do.  They were able to work with what they had and make it all beautiful in the end.  Remember they are working on a building that is over 80 years old! They are meticulous craftsmen!


We decided to keep the green wall to add a bit of character to the large room and we also wanted to save the history it brings to the project.  Earl Meeks worked on this old wall many days to patch and repair obvious holes and make it as sound as possible.


Earl also had some help from Peter Sweeting.


A few years back we found an old piece of wooden gutter, and knowing we would need it one day, we saved it.  Warren was able to piece together two “good” pieces of gutter, make wooden brackets and install it on the building.  Fine craftsmen working on our project!




Billy made and installed our concrete counters too!


With a little touch of island decor.  I mean, who doesn’t want sliced conch in their counter top!


So the painting is done, the floors are installed, the counter is in and its time to finish the floor.  Janine Andrews flew to MOW to do this.  It was a long, long, long, process.  Because Abaco pine is so hard, she went through SEVERAL sanding pads.  Pads for the big machine and for the hand held jobby. She was there 4 days for a good 12 hours or more each day.   And then in the end as a going away present, we gave her the flu!!  Janine’s work ethic is amazing.  She was determined to do the best possible job she could. And boy does it look amazing!  We are so grateful to her.


Hopefully she wont kill me for this photo, but it just shows how incredibly hard she worked to get the job done.


Billy did a lot of vacuuming before we put the stain on.


Here is a sneak peak at the finished floor.  It looks amazing.  Not too dark, and not too yellow as most pine tends to go.  Janine, Billy and I stained the entire floor.  Museum and Coffee shop.  Lots of work, but soooo worth it.


It is important to us to keep all the Sweetings involved in the process of rejuvenating their old homestead.  We were told by the girls just how much their mothers garden meant to her and ultimately to them. So we asked if they would like to plant a garden to honor their mother, Mrs. Venie, and they were so proud and honored to do it.  So they set a planting day and got busy.


Brenda, Linda, Celia and Robert come out to help with the plantings.


Its a lovely garden that will grow and mature beautify.  Roses were always in Mrs. Venies garden, so they planted some in her honor.


We have had our fair share of challenges along the way, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Pete has installed most of the plumbing and electrical and we are just about ready to go.

The “Museum” part of the building is just empty rooms right now, so there isnt much to show, but that is really where my passion lies, so just as soon as we get the coffee shop open I plan to re-focus on that.  Its truly a labor of love.  As the world around us changes daily, its comforting to know the past is carefully tucked away, just waiting to be rediscovered.  Man-O-War is such a treasure and we love sharing the rich history of the island with everyone.  Our docents are patiently waiting and new ideas are being discussed daily.  I have heard over and over what a nice addition the new Museum and coffee shop will be to the island, and that warms my heart.

I have deliberately left out large overall photos in the hopes that you will be curious enough to want to see all of it in person. We will be waiting with hot coffee and tea and possibly a sweet or two.

Until then, Happy New Year from all of us!

****If you would like to make a donation to this very worth while project, please contact me at or if you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our 501.c.3 you can click HERE ****

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Progress, Progress…

… Progress!
Look how far we have come!!  It hasn’t been an easy road, but as they say, anything worth doing, is worth doing right.  But we figured it was time for a progress report.

So……Since our last post about the building we have finished the sub floor, 

removed and replaced an entire wall,

 completed the coffee shop shell, 

installed windows and doors, made the building water tight and totally cleaned up the property! Whew… I’m tired just writing about it.  But it has been soooooo worth it

We have set completion dates and re-evaluated them based on the scope of work to be done, availability of contractors, supplies and the odd unforseen delays, but we have never lost momentum or commitment from our dedicated board or contractors.

We had a very successful back yard BBQ to help raise funds for the renovation and I have to say how proud I am of our little community.  So much support from the poeple of MOW in either food donations, monetary donations or just offering help.  It is very obvious that our community is ready to welcome the “new” museum and coffee shop to the island.

But all of this comes at a price, and we are running low on funds.  So we would like to encourage you to be a part of this community project by making a donation .  We have our U.S. Tax deductible exemption, or 501.(c).3 status and you can click here if you want to see that, our Bahamian  non-profit certificate, and we have also been put on the register for historical buildings in the Bahamas.  So if ever there was a question of legitimacy of long term investment, then this should help ease those thoughts.

We know the Man-O-War Heritage Center will be a welcome addition to the community and hope you will share in our excitement. So stop by and see our progress.  You are always welcome!

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Hey, Hey, Boat Launching Day!

It’s a great thing when your community wants to celebrate and embrace their heritage, and that’s what Man-O-War did April 1st. Our island is world famous for the craftsmanship of its boats, hard work, and integrity. It is also the boat building capital of the Bahamas. So why not have a day set aside to come together and celebrate our heritage.

The day started with a ceremony to unveil a monument dedicated to the island boat builders. Mr. Scott Weatherford was the Master of Ceremonies and he did an awesome job.


He  has a great way of telling stories and sharing memories.

There were poems recited written long ago, and the Man-O-War Primary School students sang a couple of songs for the crowd.


It’s always a treat to see the little ones participate.

There was even an old fashioned boat launching.


And of course a christening of the boat.


The boat launched was the restored boat originally built by Mr. Maurice who was Mr. Willards father.


And an unveiling of the boat builders monument. This shows a map of the boat yards once on the islands.


There was a small display of tools used in boat building and a movie was shown showcasing the boat building industry on Man-O-War.  The Minister of tourism also came and pledged his support.

No celebration would be complete without food and local crafts. It’s amazing to know how many very talented craftsmen and woman on the island.

It is my experience that every island in the Bahamas has its own originality. Something that sets them apart from the other.  Our little island is small but full of talent, past and present.

It was obvious that lots of hard work and many volunteers stepped up to make this a wonderful day.  And I thank each one of you.

But I must thank Charmaine Albury for the photos in this post.  She is an amazing photographer and always seems to get just the best shots! So thank you again Charmaine!

We hope you will help us preserve our past by making a donation to the Museum. It’s important we keep these memories alive and share them with future generations.

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IMG_7982 (2) BBQ gif

Who is ready for a spring gathering?!  WE ARE!!  Doesn’t it sound like a lot of fun to have an old fashioned BBQ at the Museum!  Everyone is invited and welcome to join us Saturday, April 8th @ 5pm.  This will be a fund raiser for us, so come out and support YOUR Museum.  If you can help us cook or bake, eat BBQ or donate…… we want you there !


Have you noticed the work on the new building has started again…. !!!   It’s very exciting to watch it all come together, and we couldn’t do all of this without YOU!  If you have already made a donation, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, if you haven’t yet….. what are you waiting for!  This is your opportunity to be part of something wonderful for the community we all know and love.  How cool would it be for you to tell all your friends that you helped make this happen!  Something that will be around for years to come.


**This is a sneak peak into the new build.  We LOVE the old green paint on the old building.  It adds such a warm and cozy feel to the “new” section**

People of all ages are making donations!  Meet Marley and Tanner Snyder!  These two cuties (with the help of their mom) have had a lemonade stand two years in a row and have donated all their sales to the Museum!!  We couldn’t be more proud of them or the project.

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So join us in making history!!

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, please go HERE and follow the instructions on the PERC web site.  Any donation over $250.00 is U.S. tax deductible.

We are also an established Bahamian Non-Profit and have just recently been recognized as a Bahamian National Historic Site!!  Dr. Tinker of the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation has been instrumental in helping us attain that status. We are soon going to be listed on the National Register.  Go to the AMMC web site and check out how they are helping to preserve our national treasures.

Thank you for your continued support and see you at the BBQ!!




Its almost Thanksgiving and around this time, even more than usual, I am reflecting on what the year has brought.  Its not always what I expected or wanted, but I am always thankful for what I have.  Its a hard lesson to learn to be patient while the wheels of progress are slowly spinning around you.  But patience is a virtue, and good things come to those who wait, right?  Well the Museum is a perfect example of patience.

It took us over 2 years, but we finally have all our ducks in a row.  The government has signed off on all paperwork, we have the loan in the bank, Peter has been paid and now the renovation has begun!!  Its been a LONG 2 years, but the pay off is a beautiful Museum that the community can be proud of for years to come.

We started the renovation with putting in a cistern.  The existing cistern was very small and inadequate for our needs.  Bill Albury had his workmen up there for several weeks digging, framing and pouring it for us.  I had the opportunity to watch these guys work and they are a well oiled machine.  The cement pouring was pretty exciting.

2 weeks ago Bill’s crew framed up the coffee shop, and I have to say that was REALLY exciting.  I know this is going to be a welcome addition to the Island.  I cant even count the people that have stopped to give us encouragement and very positive comments.  It will offer a place for people to meet friends, sip some awesome coffee and tea, enjoy the garden and check out the visitors center.


We hope to have most of the businesses and entrepreneurs on the island represented in a section called the visitors center. Their involvement will be totally voluntary and they are taking advantage of this special opportunity.

We also took the floor up over the weekend.  Something that needed to happen so we can put down new support beams.  We also found a couple of treasures!  We have quite a collection started.


Over the weekend we cleaned up the yard.  Its a beautiful piece of property with mature landscaping.  Look at that amazing Frangi Pani Tree.


And this week the crew is starting the roof!  Lots going on here and we cant wait to have you come by and check it out.

We are very excited with the progress that has been made in the last couple of months, but we couldn’t do it without your help.  It has been wonderful to open the mail box and find donations from all over the world. We have gotten so much support that this shows us just how excited everyone is to be part of this.

If you want to donate to this exciting project, and the continued history of our beloved Man-O-War Cay,  you can check out the PERC website here for instructions to make a tax deductible donation, or you can mail a cheque to us at MOW Museum, P.O.Box AB 22955, Man-O-War Cay, Abaco Bahamas.

We hope you are as excited as we are with this project.  Man-O-War is such a special place, and it is important to keep the history and way of life on our island alive and thriving.