Windows: Looking In, Looking Out

This week’s photo challenge is simply “Windows.” Here are a few that you might enjoy looking through… I wrote a blog post about the Wesley Methodist Church – a huge building in slow and steady decline – on Tower Street. I also wrote about the Writer’s Retreat in St. Mary here. It was organised by The Drawing Room Project, which has another one coming up soon in Trelawny, led by Olive Senior.

11 thoughts on “Windows: Looking In, Looking Out

  1. Hi Emma,
    I am reading your latest post today September 30 which includes a reference and blog about the Wesley Church on Tower Street, downtown Kingston being in a state of sad disrepair, I am not sure if it is a repeat article as the date says October 2012 but comments seem relatively recent. I am not an authority on Wesley but a know a little bit.

    The Wesley Chapel was for many years “The Cathedral” if you will, of the Methodist Church in Jamaica. in the early 1900s and up to to mid ’50s, it was the premier place of worship where people “of class and standing” worshipped. Remember sections of downtown Kingston, including Kingston Gardens were at one time prime residential areas for middle class black and brown professionals and business owners. This was a similar to the younger Coke Chapel in the East Parade area near the Ward Theatre. Amid changing demographics with middle class families moving uptown, membership declined although some would still travel downtown on Sundays to Wesley to worship there. As membership declined and entire families went elsewhere its influence waned in the community. The staid liturgical style of worship also had less appeal to a younger generation. It also fell victim to the violence of the 1970s and ’80s. Windows, doors and fixtures were frequently stolen or broken as young men played games nearby or damaged by stones and other projectiles flung in fights.

    Nevertheless a handful of faithful members have kept the doors opened and still reach out to the community attracting children to Sunday School and with some social outreach programmes
    For many years, deaconesses and sometimes ministers in training have been working under the umbrella of the Jamaica Methodist District to keep the doors open. Preachers from the East Kingston Circuit of the Methodist Church lead services there regularly and there has been an ongoing restoration project.

    It has been a few years since I visited there but the first time I was simply blown away by the acoustics. A small number of people could sing and their voices just filled the magnificent inner sanctuary – and it was not an echo!. The person leading the service did not need a microphone to be heard. It made me wonder at the time about the skill of the architects who could design buildings like that. I had the same experience some years earlier at the Ward Theatre.

    So to comment on , if not answer directly, some of your questions. Wesley Chapel has declined, not through careless neglect but because of declining membership, and it really takes a lot of money to maintain it. It falls under the responsibility of the Methodist Church in Jamaica which has been attempting a restoration project but with inadequate resources. In many ways, the state of the building is a stark manifestation of the current social and gritty realities of the community in which it is located.


    1. Hi Colin: Good to hear from you and thanks for responding on that article. Yes, it was an old article of course – I just put in the link in case people were interested. This is a great update and if you allow me I would like to post it on my blog as an article, just for people’s information. I think it’s a magnificent building and I can just imagine the acoustics are great. Glad to know the church is not declining due to the Methodists neglecting it, but fully understand the situation with declining congregations and especially social conditions, which must be a major factor. I wonder if the Methodists could do some fundraising overseas, fix it up and maybe use it either as a museum/heritage site or perhaps even for some other use – a concert hall? Apartments even? I have seen this happen in churches in the UK that are not used any more. My husband grew up in downtown Kingston (Hanover Street) in the 1950s and often tells me about what a good place it was to live in those days. Please let me know if I can share your comments as a short article. I will share it with the Mayor, too. Just in case. Best, Emma


      1. Hi Emma.
        Certainly you may go ahead. Re fund raising with overseas help.some attempts may have already have been made…not up to date on all aspects. I believe too it is one of the heritàge sites in Kingston. I can check that.

        Dont like the idea of apartments. There are many other abandoned places downtiwn that could be converted though..


      2. No, maybe apartments would not work for that building, but I have seen it done with old buildings in downtown areas elsewhere – London of course and downtown cities in the US. Ah yes, it might be on the JNHT’s list of buildings they don’t have money to do anything with!! (sigh). I will share i t anyway because this is good information! Take care, Emma


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