Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Remembrances of Gifft Hill - Back Story

Having a concrete floor AND cistern was quite the luxury item. The little wooden houses most everyone lived in had hard packed dirt floors or wooden ones. Few people had actual cisterns. They collected their rain water as the Thomas’s did, in 55 gallon drums. During dry spells there were catchments, in somewhat central locations, that collected water into large cisterns. People would go to the catchments to get water if they ran out. (More on that another time.) So, for the little house up at Gifft Hill to have both, was quite remarkable.

In 1927 my grandfather Alfred Boulon, my mother's father, bought Trunk Bay. His idea was to build a summer home and use it as a retreat, a place the Boulon family could go to get away from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Rico.

The original single room of The Castle was probably built in the early 1920’s. In 1928 there was a big hurricane and it was then the building was carried off its foundation and deposited across the yard.

By 1929 my grandfather was building a concrete storage/camp building and a cistern on the beach at Trunk Bay. This building would serve as the family’s living quarters until they got the main house build. All the materials to build it had to be brought in by boat. One of the people Grandpa B. hired to help with the concrete work was a man named Samuel Powel.

In this picture you can see the large Main House on the hill to the left. Below it is a little building we called the Shoe Box. And on the beach you can see the concrete building that served as the family’s temporary home while the Main House was being built.

And here's a picture of the actual building. See that flag? I have it.

We don’t know what arrangement was made, but Mr. Powel got the sand and cement from Trunk Bay. Load by load, the supplies were hauled all the way to Gifft Hill, a journey of three, maybe three and half miles, over steep winding trails. One must realize hauling bags of cement and sand all the way to Gifft Hill was done by donkey. There were no roads or cars on the island back then. Each 100 pound bag of cement was probably divided in half and placed into dumb-boxes that were carried by a donkey, as was every last grain of sand.

So it was that between 1929 and 1932, Samuel Powel hand mixed and hand poured the floor and 600 gallon cistern up at Gifft Hill. Some 25 years later, my parents bought the land and the little house from…(all together now) Samuel Powel. It was kind of like coming full circle.


  1. It's so neat to hear the story and see the old pictures! And that view. . . Wow!!!!!!


  2. I can't get over how gorgeous that scenery is!

    That sounds like quite an undertaking. And how nice that you have the flag.

  3. What a view!!! Great story. It's neat to find out the history of things.

  4. I am loving this, Bish. What a fantastic place to grow up. And that first picture -- WOW!

  5. Thank you ladies! Trunk Bay is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. Just's where I learned to swim.

  6. Hi Bish! I nominated you for an award on my blog today. :)

  7. This is such a neat story and what a wonderful view to see every day...


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!