The Book Keepers Cottage, UWI

The University of the West Indies Mona, UWI is home to a lot of historical artefacts. These include the aqueduct of the old Papine and Mona estates, remnants of the old Gibraltar camp and others which forms an outstanding landmark that is the UWI. However, the survival of the Book Keeper’s cottage adjacent to the beautiful Chapel Gardens on the campus remains a mystery.

The design of the Book keeper’s Cottage like many other older buildings elsewhere in the Caribbean carries the vernacular of European architecture[1]The specific date which the cottage was built has not yet been discovered in the literatures. The literature nevertheless, has been useful in providing some insights on the style of architecture and design that was used in constructing buildings on the Mona estate. Given the changes in proprietors of the Mona estate after 1754 and using 1759 as the date of construction of the Distillery, the cottage is estimated to be built also in the mid-1700s. The cottage would have been built using the Georgian Architectural Style which dated from 1714 to 1830; this also corresponds with the reign of King George I-IV.[2] It is historically accepted that the Georgian Architectural style was adopted in Jamaica in 1720-1850 which coincides with the estimated period during which the cottage was built.[3]

The cottage is on an archaeological site located on the UWI, Mona campus. The bookkeeper’s cottage might have been used for living purposes as well as offices so as to provide greater supervision of the enslaved labourers. However, today the cottage is used as the University of the West Indies Mona Archaeology lab. Archival records from the UWI Archives posits that in the late 1980s a decision was made for the Bookkeepers Cottage to be converted into an Archaeology Lab and also to house artefacts collected from the various digs.

[1] Gravette, A. G. Architectural Heritage of the Caribbean: An A-Z of Historic Buildings. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2000.

[2] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Georgian Style.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed May 6, 2016. http://www.britannica.com/art/Georgian-style.

[3] “About.” The Georgian Society of Jamaica. http://www.georgianjamaica.org/about.html. Accessed May 6, 2016.

blog by Vanessa Lyons,
Archives Assistant (Specializing in the Paper Collections)

 

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