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Manning’s School buckling under old age - Iconic 282-year-old institution crying out for repairs

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
One of the columns falling apart

Western Bureau:

Manning’s School, which has been an iconic landmark in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, for close to 300 years, is currently attracting negative attention from some of its well-wishers, who are unhappy that the once-pristine entrance to the school is now crying out for maintenance.

One concerned person recently told The Gleaner that the decrepit appearance of the school’s entrance is not doing justice to the historical significance of the institution, which was established in 1738 through funds bequeathed by Westmoreland planter Thomas Manning.

“This is a historical building that is in need of repair. It is the most historic front of a school in Jamaica,” said the individual, who hopes that bringing the matter to public attention will spark the desired results.

When The Gleaner visited the school last Tuesday, there were definite signs of it needing a facelift.

Principal Steve Gordon was unavailable for comment, and staff members said they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Westmoreland’s custos, Father Hartley Perrin, who was recently invited to sit on the school’s new board of governors, said while the situation at the entrance to the institution cannot be slighted, the greater concern is the original school building, which is buckling under old age.

“The library was in the original building that was established in 1738 and they have had to move out because of the state of disrepair,” said Perrin. “Repairs are done from time to time, as the building is a national heritage site. However, it is going to take millions of dollars, which is a massive undertaking, to do the type of repair that is needed.”

Perrin said the school’s past student’s association and the current administration are interested in leading the charge as it relates to doing the required refurbishing, but he believes a greater effort is needed to attract outside support.

“More needs to be done to generate financial assistance because repairing and restoring the original building is going to be a massive undertaking,” he said. “The entrance is important but not on the scale of the original building.”

Manning’s School is the alma mater of Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte; Central Westmoreland’s Member of Parliament Dwayne Vaz; Father Hartley Perrin; and Jamaica’s 2009 IAAF World Championships triple jump gold medal winner, Trecia Kay Smith.