The Georgian Society of Jamaica has produced a DVD entitled 'Cut Stones, Columns and Shingles'. It is produced for the society by the Jamaica Information Service
and is full of information on all things Georgian, in Jamaica.
Above is a video preview of what you will receive when you purchase the full 75-minute DVD.
'Cut Stones, Columns and Shingles' include:
1. An overview of the island's collection of Georgian-style buildings.
2. Details of Georgian-style buildings in the county of Cornwall (Western end of the island).
3. Details of Georgian-style buildings in Middlesex (Central section of the island).
4. Details of Georgian-style buildings in Surrey (Eastern section of the island)."The DVD is narrated by Adrian Atkinson and will give you a better understanding of some of the well-known, beautiful buildings in Jamaica and others that are well off the beaten path, including a dwelling house in Middlesex with its very own resident ghost, Lady Lavinia." Read the rest of the review from the Jamaica Daily Gleaner.
To purchase, call (876) 754-5261.
- Photo by Launtia Cuff --Taken from the Daily Gleaner
Magdala House is located in the heritage district of Black River, St. Elizabeth. The house is of historical and architectural interest.
Magdala House -- the history
Located on High Street, the house was built in the late 19th Century by Thomas Leyden of the Leyden and Farquharson Shipping Company. The building was constructed by Adolphus Williams for Mr. Leyden. Both men were considered two of the richest men in Jamaica at the time.
The two storey house had inside plumbing with running water for the main bathroom and lavatory upstairs. It has concrete foundation walls which are rectangular and rise two to three feet above the ground. Liberal use of fretwork on facias and barge boards give the house an imposing appearance, set on extensive grounds.
Donald Farquharson, who spent most of his boyhood days at Magdala House, wrote the following in 1981:
The staircase was in every way of a fine design and construction but was a constant source of trouble as the Flemish Oak was not impervious to termites and bits from time to time had to be replaced. The arches in the hall were also like the staircase of Flemish Oak. The pressed paper panelling in the dining room was I recall, in the opinion of my family, the epitome of Victorian nouveau riche bad taste!
The dining room had oak flooring. It was a big room with a bow window and no floor board was joined. Each board was cut in England to the exact length required from a length of oak. The verandahs were small and tiled in gaudy Victorian tiles of various mixed shades of brown and yellow. The outer board walls were painted and sanded with white sea sand for preservation."
Magdala House was purchased by the Roman Catholic Church in 1963 and was used as a church and school. Both were later closed and the nuns were sent to Mandeville and Kingston. After that the building was used as an orphanage.
Currently the building is in a sad state of disrepair as shown in the photograph above. According to The Daily Gleaner
article, "Funds Needed to Repair Magdala House,
March 2, 2013, the building has "creaking floorboards, flaking paint, water damaged ceilings and walls." and the the future of the site is undecided.
by GSJ Editor, Lena Joy RoseCheck back soon for more posts on historic sites/buildings of interest around Jamaica.
On Saturday, January 19, 2013, the Montego Bay chapter of the Georgian Society held its annual soiree at the Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay. At twilight, attendees strolled up the path to the great house in costumes resplendent of the Georgian era. Many of these were created by costume designer, Ernesto Castro who was also present.
As guests mingled on the expansive lawn, the great house glowed in a backdrop of multicolored lights -- a solid reminder of a bygone era. The delicious, complimentary sangria, made by Robin deLisser, was hands down "the drink of the night" and it seemed to flow in unlimited supply. A light Georgian fare followed with an assortment of European cheeses, roast pork, et al. And then the surprise entertainment of the night -- a bevy of professional dancers renacted poignant scenes from the grisly tale of The White Witch of Rose Hall.
Written by Lena Joy Rose. All photos and original music by Andrew Roblin
Invercauld Great House, Black River
The Great House as it was in 1889
Photo courtesy of: www.fiwiroots.com
The Invercauld Great house, located on High Street, was built around 1860 and is a fine example of late Jamaica Georgian Architecture. The Great House reflects Black River’s prosperity over 100 years ago when shipping and logwood timber made the town wealthy.
The house was named after Invercauld Estate in Scotland. It was built by Patrick Leyden, one of three brothers who arrived in Black River on a ship from Scotland. Armed only with the tools of their trade, the brothers soon made their fortune in the then thriving town of Black River which had quintessential Georgian architecture, typical of the turn of the century waterfront homes homes in the area.
Eventually, the house was sold to Dr. C.D. Johnson, a well-loved and popular member of the community. After Dr. Johnson died, the house was neglected for many years and on its way to ruin. It is said that from time to time his footsteps can still be heard in the upstairs rooms of the house.
The Great House -- now a hotel -- as it is today
The "Grand Old Lady" Rescued
In 1990, the "grand old lady" known for its bay windows, intricate fretworks and cabled roofs was rescued by Dr. Trevor Hamilton, a son of St. Elizabeth and a well known business consultant. His love and dedication the property has marked many years of restoration and improvements.
The great house is now a hotel and was designated a National Heritage site by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Check back soon for more on Black River, St. Elizabeth
by GSJ Editor: Lena Joy Rose
Black River, St. Elizabeth
Postcard by Ray Chen
In this Georgian Society's new SHOWCASE SERIES, we delve into the background of various historic towns in Jamaica and cite the architecture, artifacts and monuments of interest.
This post showcases the town of Black River which is known today for its wetlands, wildlife and wonderful old great houses. The town also embodies the unmistakable charm and unspoiled beauty that characterizes the South Coast of Jamaica.
Some Little Known Facts
The old town of Black River, the capital of St. Elizabeth, has a number of FIRSTS:
1. The first town in Jamaica to have electric street lights
2. Telephone service in 1900
3. The first car in 1903, owned by Mr. H.W.Griffiths
4. One of the first racecourses in Jamaica -- racing was done on the Lower Works property.
According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust:
The town of Black River, established close to the banks of the river after which it is named, is one of the oldest in the island. The exact date of its establishment is not known but John Sellers' 1685 map of Jamaica identified its existence. The town itself is quaint and beautiful, looking as it does southward, toward the shimmering blue Caribbean Sea.
Black River was designed by the Leyden brothers of England, three wealthy men who were substantial land proprietors in the area. Today, it is nothing like the busy seaport town it was in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the area prospered from the lucrative logwood trade, exports of rum, pimento and cattle skin garnered from nearby Holland, Vineyard and Fullerswood Estates.
The town itself, because of its port, was vital to the slave trade. Slaves were brought here and sold at auction at Farquharson Wharf, originally called the 'Town Wharf', which is still standing. Over time, the town grew in size and importance and in 1773, it replaced Lacovia, located some 19 miles to the east-north-east, as the capital of St. Elizabeth. It soon became the main commercial, economic and transhipment centre of the parish.
By the early 1900's the town was second only to Kingston, the national capital, in importance.The growing economic wealth of Black River was evident in the development of a number of warehouses which are still seen in the town today, which are being used as restaurants or headquarters for one of the operators offering tours up the ecologically rich river with its swirling dark waters.
Check back next week as we explore the historic sites in Black River.
- Lena Joy Rose, Editor, Georgian Society of Jamaica
Jamaican Georgian architecture, with its emphasis on light and air, is ideally suited to the climate of the West Indies. It has the style and charm of its eighteenth century origins, with features added to suit the tropics. Its utility and grace not only appear in the design of great houses and civic buildings, but is also the vernacular for the average modest building. The ups and downs of the nation’s economy and changes in building materials and methods of construction had resulted in little continuity of development of design from Georgian to modern times. Often there were few good architects on the island so no sympathetic bridging of the periods took place.
In these days, there is a strong worldwide movement to record and preserve heritage buildings, furniture, prints and other artifacts from the past and membership in the Society should prove to be interesting and stimulating.
About the Georgian Society
The Georgian Society of Jamaica was started in 1967 out of concern for the destruction and neglect of period buildings in all parts of the island. Those were frequently replaced by structures of poor design and little character, the pleasing and practical details of Georgian architecture having been largely forgotten or misunderstood.
The Society’s local chapters take a special interest in an area, parish, town or even a single landmark building.
From time to time, events featuring the cultural aspects of life in the period, Jamaica
Circa 1730 – 1850, are organised for the entire society but each chapter arranges its own field trips. Currently, there are four chapters, viz: Kingston, St.Ann/St.Mary,
Falmouth-Trelawny and St. James. Our first published project was an illustrated history of Falmouth – “FALMOUTH 1790 – 1970.”
We urge you to support the objectives of the Society in the interest of your community and of Jamaica. We shall then help to pass on to future generations important parts of our heritage which will be a continual delight to both Jamaicans and their visitors.
Occasionally, special fund-raising activities are arranged, the proceeds from which are donated to a special restoration project in any part of the island. Those restoration projects must, of course, be of public buildings such as churches, monuments, clocks etc.
Membership dues are outlined below:
SUPPORTING MEMBER…………………………… JMD $5,000 per annum
CORPORATE MEMBERS………………………….. JMD $3,000 per annum
PERSONAL MEMBERSHIP …………………….. JMD $1,500 per annum
STUDENT MEMBER……………………………..… JMD $300 per annum
OVERSEAS MEMBER…………………………. .... GBP 10 OR USD $20 per annum
Contributed by Pauline Simmonds, Secretary of the Jamaica Georgian Society
One of the most important developments in Jamaica in the immediate post slavery period was the founding of the Free Villages. These were new communities of freed people who lived away from the estates.
Free Villages were usually large tracts of land purchased by the missionaries and then subdivided into smaller plots for sale to their members. The church founded free villages were established after the passage of the Ejectment and Trespass acts. For the Former, the entire population or any portion of it could be ejected at a week's notice from the homes in which they had been born and in which they had lived in while they were slaves.
The Trespass Act allowed the police of any country to catch hold of and to imprison any individual who was found in his former home after he had received notice of ejectment. This was done to compel the labourer to work for whatever wages they chose to give and to perform as much work as they required.
The first village that was established was Sligoville, its founder was Rev. James Phillippo, the Baptist Minister at Spanish Town, on the 10th of July 1835. The following is a list of free villages by parish:
- St. Ann - Moneague, Clarksonville, Wilberforce, Buxton Bethany, Salem Brown's Town, Happy Valley, Pleasant Valley, Harmony, Philadelphia, Sturge Town and Endeavour
- St. Thomas - Delvery, Airy Mount (Mount Airy), Navarino, Greenwood, Beldona, Spring Mount, Elmwood, Bachelor's Hall, Pigeon Hill, Unity Valley, Leith Hall and Bath Castle
- St. Elizabeth - Spring field, Lacovia, Kilmarnock, Cairn Curran, Commer Pen, Lititz, Ipswich, Carisbrook, Cruze and Ballard's Valley
- Clarendon - Rhyme's Bury, Howell's Content, Halse Hall, Hayes, Mitchell's Town, Farm Colonel's Ridge, Nairne Castle, Crofts and Cross.
- St. James - Goodwill, Irwin Hill, Mount Carey, Maldon, Shortwood, Sudbury and Salters Hill
- Manchester - Bethabara, Beaufort, Beulah, Vale, Porus, Hillside, Maidstone, Mizaph and Walderston.
- Trelawny - New Cargen, Albert Town, Stewart's Town, Gilbraltar, Kettering, Clarkson Town, Granville and Refuge
- Westmoreland - Carmel, Bethel Town and St. Leonard's Gurney
- St. Catherine - Sligoville, Kitson Town, Sturge Town, Victoria Township and Clarkson Town
- Portland - Cedar Valley, Belle Castle and Happy Grove
- Hanover - Mount Horeb and Sandy Bay
- St. Andrew - Trinityville
- St. Mary - Islington
Contributed by Marcia Frith-Kohler, Board Member, Georgian Society of JamaicaExcerpt from the National Library of Jamaica
World War I and II veteran memorial.
When Christopher Columbus first came to Jamaica in 1494, he landed on the shores of St. Ann. He returned to Jamaica on his fourth voyage and was eventually marooned for one year at St. Ann’s Bay (June 1503 – June 1504), which he had named Santa Gloria.
St. Ann’s Bay became the capital of St. Ann, mainly because of the town’s large harbour and port for shipping goods ranging from bananas to bauxite. After 1655, when the English captured Jamaica, St Ann’s Bay gradually developed as a fishing port with many warehouses and wharves on Wharf Street which still exist today. One is taken back in time as a walk through the historic town reveals many well preserved buildings reminiscent of early 20th century Jamaican vernacular. Two of the oldest buildings in town are the St. Ann Parish Church (built in 1871, shown behind the above war memorial) and the St. Ann’s Bay Courthouse (built in 1860).
Marcus Garvey - National hero
St. Ann’s Bay is home to National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887) as well as Jamaica’s first prison and once boasted a movie theatre, is a reflection of the town’s early importance and position of authority.
Led by Mr. Dennis Higgins, Chairman of the St. Ann Heritage Foundation, the Georgian Society – St. Ann’s Bay/St. Mary Chapter was well on its way to rediscovering St. Ann’s Bay. The walking tour would take us through the many streets of the town and allow the group to revisit some buildings which were photographed in 1991 on a similar trip. We would later discover that many remained unchanged while others were completely destroyed, in desperate need of repair or had underwent dramatic renovation.
The starting point was the Roxborough, located beside the Island Traffic Authority Examination Depot which I must say is in a deplorable condition. Our first stop was at Cotter’s Wharf (which was a location for the 1962 film, Dr. No )- It consisted of three buildings that facilitated the shipment of Agricultural produce, citrus, molasses and bananas to the United Kingdom. Also, it was from there that the first shipment of bauxite which was mined at Annandale was sent in the late 1930′s.
Bravo Street, St. Ann's Bay
We trod along the side-walks and carefully ascended the steep incline called Bravo Street and ventured through the various connecting streets as we continued to note the changes made throughout the years. As it was a Sunday morning, there wasn’t much traffic of any kind on the streets.
Below is a before and after slide show of the buildings as we saw them (Also added a few taken in 2005). Hover your mouse on photo then click "Play" to start the slideshow
Before & After Photos of Buildings in St. Ann's Bay
LaToya Gail, GSJ member and blog contributor
Thanks to LaToya Gail for the wonderful photos and commentaries on the GSJ blog. We wish you all the best as you pursue your studies in Savannah, Georgia.
- Georgian Society of Jamaica
Ruin of slave hospital at Orange Valley, Trelawny
Upon the invitation extended by Dr. Ivor Conolley of Falmouth Heritage Renewal, in collaboration with the University of Virginia Field School in Historic Preservation, and the Digital Archaeological Archives of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), I along with a few members of the Georgian Society of Jamaica – St. Ann/St. Mary and Falmouth Chapters volunteered to assist with the recording of buildings at Orange Valley, Trelawny, as well as conducting some archaeological investigations/excavations.
Georgian Society member, Anne Hyatt, sorting artifacts
The Georgian Society team arrived on day three of the week-long excavation. Things were well underway and the teams were hard at work digging and washing the artifacts that had been found. Before we got our hands dirty though, we decided to tour the estate which
spreads across over 2000 acres.
The History ...
Unknown Photographer c 1900 Collection Andrew Kerr Jarrett
Our first stop on the tour of the estate was the ruin of the great house. Rich in history, the estate was first purchased from the Allen family in 1757 by Herbert Newton Jarrett II. who built the Great House in 1760. Herbert Newton Jarrett II had a great part to play in the existence of what was without a doubt one of the most impressive ruins that has been wonderfully preserved -- the Slave Hospital. It was the work of architect E. Earl and, when built in 1797 by Jarrett, was one of only three estates to provide a hospital for its slaves.
Photograph by Donald Lindo, c. 1970.
Special thanks to Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins for allowing me to use his two vintage photos and quite a bit of the information here:
“[The great house] had enclosed galleries along the entire front on both the second and third floors. Behind the Entrance Gallery on the second floor was a large square central Drawing Room flanked by a Dining Room on one side and a Library and a Bedroom on the other. Behind the upstairs gallery on the third floor was another large share central room, used as a family Sitting Room, flanked by 4 more Bedrooms, two on either side. There were also two enclosed galleries which ran the entire length of the back of the house on the second and third floors which contained the mahogany staircase which connected the second and third floors.
The second floor front gallery was used as an Entrance Hall and the second floor back gallery was used as a Breakfast Room. The third floor front gallery, which was later partially opened up in the centre, was definitely used as an outdoor Sitting Room. It had a wonderful view over the Overseer's House and Sugar Works and much of the plantation. The third floor back gallery was basically just a staircase hall.
--” Brett Ashmeade-Hawkin
In the 18th century, Orange Valley was the second largest sugar plantation after Tharpe’s, Good Hope. The Orange Valley estate ruin is one of the best examples of the layout and
buildings of its time. Up until the late 1900’s, the great house was still standing in fairly good condition but unfortunately it collapsed as a result of thieves slowly stealing away the remarkable structure. (Quite similar to what happened to the RADA building in Falmouth) Today one would never know that it once was a beautiful two storey dwelling that overlooked the slave hospital and sugar works mill.
The Slave Hospital . . .
The well ventilated symmetrical cut-stone structure with Venetian windows all around was once rendered in lime mortar which over time faded away. [I must say I prefer seeing the cut-stone anyway]. The interior which was built with timber is not in existence today and there is no evidence of the location of the staircase(s) which would lead to the upper floor. At the entrance is the Latin inscription which translates as “not unmindful of the sick and wretched’. At that time there were few hospitals which were built of this caliber on a plantation.
After the decline of sugar production, the estate reinvented itself and in 1966 became the first commercial stud farm in Jamaica. To date, this is still an active component of the family business now run by Alec Henderson and his wife.
We continued our tour on the rest of the estate which included the ruins of the sugar works mill and overseer's cottage. Since "a picture is worth a thousand words" please view the slide show below for more details:
Blog post by Latoya Gail. Photos by Latoya Gail and David Keeling. Photo captions and edits by Lena Rose.
Our Georgian Heritage
Read Part I here. Read Part II here
All members of our human family deserve equal measures of dignity and
respect, after which, is then maintained or forfeited by an individual’s own
actions. The key word here is: “RESPECT” - a word that conjures consideration or thoughtfulness of others, and includes emotions such as: empathy and understanding. Had this idea been practiced more often, we all might have had a better coexistence with each other and a more peaceful world; whereas, the lack of it promotes unrelenting incivility and global turmoil.
People of conscience have moral obligation to speak out against any form of
inhumanity, past and present, because societies are not destroyed by the
strength of a few but rather by the spineless indifference of the masses. But
there are those of us who refuse to even turn the pages of a book; we tend to
rely on the sanitized versions of a history that was written by the perpetrators themselves and spoon-fed to us in school. We mindlessly absorb everything by rote and, consequently, most of us are sadly lacking in this respect. Many of us are having great difficulties overcoming years of bad indoctrination and misinformation, or simply don’t have the stomach to deal with some of the disconcerting facts of history; while, naturally, those who benefited from these past misdeeds have no problems with the status quo.
The inconvenient truth is that our state of ignorance is not the result of a lack of information, but rather, apathy. History is more than time and place. It allows us to “think critically” about the greatest question humanity has ever asked: WHY? And one can finish the question any way one wants.
From my perspective as a Jamaican who happens to be a Humanist, I can
understand the lack of interest that some people are exhibiting where things of this period of history is concerned. I too have no desire to lionize these
Georgians, nor to glorify a period of such gross avariciousness and moral
indifference, that such evil atrocities could so willfully be devised to cause
so much anguish and desolation to so many of our fellow-human beings for the purpose of creating their own selfish grandeur.
Nevertheless, I propose that, as we do the immorality of imperialism and
the barbarity of piracy, which eventually waned to facilitate the more lucrative agrarian brutal slave/master’s way of life, we should also recognize and appreciate the significance of preserving the memory of this colonial epoch and all its salient remnants as an indelible part of our past, and a decisive and influential component of our nation’s evolution. History should be accepted for what it is; not what we would like it to be.
The Georgian Society of Jamaica mission statement is as follows:
"We are committed to the preservation, restoration and maintenance of
Jamaica's historic buildings, monuments, artifacts, works of art, furniture and fixtures particularly those belonging to the Georgian Period (1720 - 1850) to causing where possible legislation to be enacted, rescinded or altered to enable those things to be accomplished and to stimulate interest in and promoting our appreciation of the value of Jamaica's heritage."
As a member of the St James branch; I can honestly say that the committee
of this organization, under the enthusiastic direction of our president: Mrs.
Trina Delisser; is genuinely dedicated to this project, because we consider it
incumbent on ourselves to do all that is possible to hold on to all tangible
material manifestations of this momentous past, which is intricately woven into the fabric of our history.
Among our varied endeavors are: informative organized trips, walk-a-bouts
and a variety of cultural events that are specifically structured to raise funds
and awareness. This also includes an annual Georgian ball which is held in a
great house estate in order to dramatically revive the period; complete with
17th to18th century inspired costumes, music, dances that are appropriate to the sensibilities that were unique to our island, in an effort to give today’s
generation a visual glimpse of what was once a part of our eclectic Jamaican
All vestiges of our past, however imperfect, serve as vital evidences of how we as a nation became the way we are, and therefore ought to be embraced as “legacy,” and an integral part of our rich Jamaican heritage.
I invite you to share your thoughts by clicking on "add comment" below the Tweet button at the end of this post. If you are new to this blog please
Guest Blogger, Nerissa Braimbridge is a Jamaican born; former business woman,
who was awarded Woman of the Year, 1975, in the new business idea field, by the Multi-Occupational Society of Manhattan, NYC. Named International Woman of the Year, 1995/96 - in recognition of her services to the business world, by IBC, Cambridge, England, and listed in the 6th edition of Personalities of America - for Services in Arts and Communications by ABI, USA. Mrs. Braimbridge is world traveled, and World Cultures and Humanities are her passion and interests. She may be contacted via email.
** Note: The views expressed by all of our guest bloggers are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Georgian Society of Jamaica