CAMANOE – Seldom will one come across such breathtaking views as I experienced from the observatory atop Camanoe.  The Whipple House, with its rustic charm and azure ambience is destined for a modern makeover.   Currently under renovation, Whipple House is being opened up to let in the light.  This modest, 40-year-old dwelling constructed of stone and timber was built to last the test of time.

The name Whipple is that of famous English astronomer Fred Whipple (1906-2004).  The house was selected for its spectacular view, by day and night. His children frequented the island and are the current owners.  One of the first houses on Camanoe, it was built in the 1960s as the family retreat.  It is to an extent the Whipple Caribbean observatory.

A vantage point overlooking Scrub Island and Marina Cay sweeps from Eustacia and the dogs through to Beef Island and  Tortola.  The difference being that your viewpoint form here is above the islands, you feel elevated and with the trades blowing fresh it is a sensation of fresh discovery.  The surrounding foliage consists of cacti, orchids and sage, along with loblolly trees.  Scents of wild charm tease the air.

Each of the three units is currently being joined together and the stone masons are hard at work on the task.  The floors are of Mexican satillo tiling with loose large stone granite walls.  The ceilings and timber posts are mahogany and cypress tongue and groove replaces any worn wood.  To join the master bedroom and living area with the second bedroom, a barbeque area is being prepped in between.  The third unit will remain isolated.  Stone paths remain whilst each bedroom is having its original small windows knocked through with replacement stone arches, which will look onto new wooden decks overhanging the hillside.

Andy Gordon, resident on Camanoe for twenty years, oversees the project.  It’s in synch with the community on Great Camanoe.  Living is remote and access to the island is by boat.  Andy has seen many changes but with 16 of the 28 lots being occupied for a long time, island life is relatively slow.  A communal library and mailing post is on the beach front providing a message centre and reading room for residents.  It was essential pre-telephone but still serves its purpose today.  Cars are on the island as a means of transport but a boat is necessary to cross to Beef or other islands.  The airport is in close proximity to Whipple and you can be on your hilltop retreat wiithin 15 minutes of landing.

The purpose of the renovation is to enhance the features of Whipple House.  Large farmhouse doors open up the main suite.  When originally designed, great efforts were made to protect the housings from wind.  Now it is being opened up, and French sliding doors are being installed for optimal views. The renovation is taking place quickly, with two months remaining until completion (at press time).

At 4.2 acres, the property boasts abundant flat areas for pools and/or additional buildings.  A pump room provides water from a cistern and an old generator provides back up power. All systems and the kitchen are to be upgraded with modern appliances, furnishings and will be wooden teak imported from Bali, to feature Caribbean colonial style (see Dec. BVIPG issue).  There is ample storage in a garage and laundry room.  Each bathroom is to undergo a revamping, its original shell intact Whipple House is getting a makeover.

Suitable as a family home or simply a retreat, Whipple House is self-sufficient island living at its best.  Commercial development is prohibited on the island and amenities for provisioning are available from Beef Island or Marina Cay.  The residents' association of Camanoe pays fees for upkeep of the docks and roads, in contrast to its neighboring residents in Great Camanoe.  Whipple house retains its original rustic charm, updated with a modern flair for the new millennium, making it a charming place with something to offer everyone.

Asking price US$1.2 million, post renovation.