The ancestral home of American president Chester Alan Arthur (1829-1886), in Cullybackey, was gutted in a blaze in May 2011. This was a terrible tragedy but the home is set to rise from the ashes. It is owned by Ballymena Borough Council and the councillors have approved the refurbishment of the building at a cost of £135,000.
The project will involve repairing the existing cottage and improving exhibition areas in surrounding outbuildings.
Chester Alan Arthur was the 21st president of the United States of America, holding office from 1881 to 1885. His father William Arthur (1797-1875), a Presbyterian Ulster-Scot, emigrated from Ulster to Canada and then settled across the border in the United States. There he joined the Free Will Baptists and became a minister in that denomination. He also became an outspoken adovcate of the abolition of slavery.
The contribution of Ulster folk, especially Ulster-Scots, to the making of modern America is remarkable and deserves to be celebrated. It also has great potential as part of our tourist offering and we need to focus on developing this aspect of the offering.