The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Margurites House

A typical Saba House

Marguerites House.

Miss Marguerite’s House from a painting by Heleen Cornet and on the cover of her book Saban Cottages. First owned by Mr. Bloomfield Hassell and probably built around 1907 or so.

Miss Marguerite’s House

By; Will Johnson

This lovely home known to all nowadays as “Miss Marguerites House” was built by Mr. Bloomfield Hassell a prominent merchant in his day.

In probably the first photo taken of this part of Windwardside between 1870 and 1875 the lot was vacant but the still existing cistern is pictured. There may have been a house before that photo was taken. A mulatto family related to the Every/Peterson families lived in the now vacant lot between this house and the Museum.

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Miss Lily Every neighbour of Miss Marguerite.

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Miss Johanna Every. She and her sister Lily and Merselita together with their mother lived just behind Miss Marguerites House.

There were three small slave huts there and they can be seen in the photo referred to here.

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Mr. Bloomfield Hassell in suspenders with his sister Mara standing in the gate leading to his grocery store, while Dr. J.M.J. Chocolaad is testing the health of his people Waldron Hassell (above) and John Peter Hassell (below). Photo from 1947.

Mr. Bloomfield Hassell also owned across the street from his home where the conference room of Juliana’s Hotel is now located. When Mr Bloomfield Hassell died, that property was sold to Mr. Joseph “Mano” Emanuel Vlaun who employed Mr. Arthur Chester Hassell to manage this store for him.

Mr. Bloomfield Hassell was born on July 11th, 1878 and died at the age of 74 on August 28th 1952. His parents were Henry Bloomfield Hassell and Rose Ellen Holm. He was married to Ethel Hassell who died on Saba on May 15th, 1943 at the age of 58. Her parents were Lovelock Hassell and Agnes Holm.

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Photo of “Under-the-Hill” in Windwardside taken between 1870 and 1875, before the Anglican church was built (1876-77) and before Mr. Bloomfield Hassell built his house.

They were cousins and were married on Tuesday May 19th, 1908.

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The schooner “Esther Anita” parked up at the South Street sea port. This was just one of the many fine Saban owned schooners which traded with New York from the Eastern Caribbean islands and Barbados and St. Thomas. This one belonged to Capt. William Benjamin Hassell grandfather of the Goddard family on Barbados. The schooner made it once in nine days from New York to Saba. Lumber, shingles and everything needed to build the lovely Saba cottages were brought from New York to Saba by these schooners.

In those days it was customary to visit the home of the bride to be while engaged and to be engaged in building a new home for the bride to be. So it is reasonable to assume that the house was built and completed no later than 1908. Further research in the Registry of Properties will be able to shed more light on this matter as to when the property was acquired by Mr “Bloomy” as he was known. That style house would have been built with hand tools only in a period of six weeks for $140.—by a Master carpenter and at most two helpers. In Windwardside there were some famous Master carpenters who also built some of the former lovely homes on the Front Street in Philipsburg, St. Martin. Among the best were “Bo Willie” Leverock and his son Cyrillus, also Alphonsius “Connor” Hassell and a number of others. The wood would have been imported from New York to which port Saban owned schooners called on a monthly basis back then. There were times that as many as three large Saban schooners would be docked at pier 17 at South Street Seaport. They would carry sugar from St. Kitts, salt from either St. Martin or Anguilla and passengers from the Eastern Caribbean. They would also trade between Barbados and New York. The return trip they would bring back general merchandize, lumber, shingles, and passengers.

His wife died in 1943 on May 15th at the age of 58 and he passed away on Thursday August 28th 1952. Shortly after his death the grocery store and surrounding land was sold to Mr. Joseph Emanuel Vlaun. The home was first sold to Mr John Joseph Simmons and his wife Lillian Hassell (parents of Lloyd and Harry Simmons, among others) after Mr Bloomy died. When Mr Simmons was about to retire from the ESSO oil refinery on Aruba another house on the way to “Booby Hill” became available and Mr Simmons bought that house from Mr Johnny Hassell. Mr Bloomy’s House was then sold to Miss Marguerite Hassell whose parent’s home was and still is located above this home. That would have been around 1959 or so. I remember Miss Marguerite living in her new home in early 1962 as she and I worked for a while together in the Post Office in Windwardside. She lived there for the rest of her life with the only exception when she would visit her brother Norman and his family in the United States. And so the house became known as Miss Marguerite’s House.

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Miss Marguerite Hassell born May 6th, 1919 and died September 9th, 2011. She was Postmistress, Recorder for Island Council meetings and was known for her fine Saba Lace known as “Spanish Work”. She and her maid Miss Helen van Putten kept her lovely home in prime condition.

Miss Maugerite (spelled this way) was born on May 6th, 1919 and passed away on September 9th, 2011. At her funeral I did a eulogy on her life which is attached to this brief history of this house. Miss Maugerite took loving care of this beautiful home and was assisted by Miss Helen van Putten who was her housekeeper most of her life. And so it is no wonder that the house is universally known now as: “Miss Marguerite’s House”!

I remind people that the reason why Saba has not yet been over developed is because of our limitations. Our limitations are our best assets. Because we have no white sand beaches, or a large airport or harbour, we have been saved from over development. Among our best assets which draw visitors to Saba are our well kept Saban houses painted in their traditional colours with red roofs, white sides and green or red and white shutters, and a number of them with ovens and chimneys. Move away from that and one of our best assets will be lost. We encourage the stranger whom we have welcomed into our island to respect our traditions and our culture and they too will benefit by it. Miss Marguerites House is a prime example of over one hundred years of cherishing and maintaining our Saban building culture. And so we hope that if one should come back to Saba five hundred years from now that if not all some of these lovely homes will still be here to be admired by all visitors as well as natives.!

James Anthony Simmons painting Miss Marguerite Hassell's House.

Another great photo of Miss Marguerite’s House with the painter James Anthony Simmons doing some painting on the house.

The Front Room at Miss Marguerite's

The living room of Miss Marguerite’s House when she lived there.

Miss Marguerites House 2

One of the bedrooms in Miss Marguerite’s House.

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