Strolling down Front Street a visitor, or even a resident, could be forgiven for not noticing the modest sign posted at the northwest corner of the Museum property. It says, simply “Murphy Alley North.” If one did happen to notice the sign they could also be forgiven for not attaching any particular significance to it. But it is a little odd, because Murphy is not a common name in the Turks Islands. You won’t find it in the telephone directory. In fact, it can refer only to one man and his family. So who was this man and why is the narrow lane named for him?
The answer to that question can be found in the life one of the most extraordinary men who ever lived on Grand Turk and his adventures during the “Golden Age” of the Turks Islands, circa 1850-1900.
Much of Grand Turk’s remarkable waterfront architectural landscape was created during this time, or even earlier. Government was stable, the salt business was prosperous. Enterprising entrepreneurs were trying their hand at new industries such as sisal production, sponge harvesting, and guano mining in the Caicos Islands. Beautiful homes for prosperous families were being built on Duke, Front, and Middle Streets. The Grand Turk lighthouse was installed and the islands were teeming with activity.