Historic nightspot reduced to rubble for redevelopment
A historic venue that drew some of the world’s greatest entertainers to the island was yesterday razed to the ground.
Demolition began on the Clayhouse Inn last month and its completion this week marked the end of an era.
Mortimer Lawrence, the grandson of James Browne who built and owned the Clayhouse and a director of site owner Clayhouse Renaissance, said: “The Clayhouse is my grandfather’s legacy. It is part of the soul of Bermuda.
Mr Lawrence said he used to visit the island from the United States as a child and spent time at the Clayhouse.
He added: “As children we used to get off the plane and seeing who could be the first to jump off the rocks into the water.
“In one way, it is very hard to see it go down but it had become an eyesore and we had to get it down.
“We are looking for developers to get it back up.”
Clayhouse Renaissance has posted updates on the demolition work on the firm’s website over the past month – which included some surprise discoveries.
A 12“ vinyl record by singer Donna Summer released in 1975 was unearthed from the rubble earlier this month.
The owners added that they discovered rooms they never knew existed as the demolition work went on.
The website said: “While razing the last sections of the building, previously unknown rooms housing chairs, paint, and other supplies were discovered, enhancing Clayhouse mystique.”
The Clayhouse, on North Shore Road, Devonshire was closed after it was damaged in a 2002 fire.
The nightspot became a top venue after the late Choy Aming Sr, a Trinidadian, leased it in 1967.
Mr Aming’s youngest son Michael Aming said he had visited the demolition site a few times and taken a block from the rubble as a keepsake.
He said: “It was definitely emotional for me. I took a block for a future mini project.
“Next time I am in Trinidad visiting the family, I want to take whatever I do with the project down to where my dad’s resting place is.
“That was his more than anybody’s, so I definitely felt that I wanted to do that.”
Mr Aming said he spent much of his childhood at the club and had happy memories of its heyday.
He added: “It is tough to see it go. Even though the building has gone the memories will live on – we will talk about it fondly in the family, for sure.
“For me personally I miss the music – it was an entertainment complex, but the music and the family shaped my life.“
International artists from Ziggy Marley to Roberta Flack performed at the club, as well as carnival dancers, the Not the Um Um Show and novelty acts.
The family behind the property includes Donald Evans, son of the late Dame Lois Browne-Evans, a prominent Progressive Labour Party politician and the grandson of the Clayhouse's original owner.
Clayhouse Renaissance proposed construction of a four-storey apartment block on the site with a two-storey commercial building, restaurant and offices about ten years ago.
But the project was abandoned after local residents opposed the development.