A Walking Tour of Falmouth Jamaica, Part II

The quiet charm of Falmouth Jamaica lies in its commercial buildings as well as its residences. Modest or grand, they offer a glimpse into a bygone period, a time when sugar was king.

In first part of the tour, we looked at some of Falmouth’s commercial buildings. For the second part, we’ll view some of the private homes that are located on Trelawny and King Streets. Both parts of the tour can be done together and will take about 2-3 hours to complete.

To start this tour, turn right after leaving the pier and follow Trelawny Street. When you cross Market Street (the Baptist Manse is at the corner of Trelawny and Market), we’ll arrive at our first stop on Trelawny Street.

Several of the homes we’ll see were owned by free people of color. During the 18th century, Jamaica had a sizable population of free people of color, who generally lived in the urban areas. Though the majority was poor, a good number accumulated considerable wealth.

Trelawny Street

The Love House, Trelawny Street
Built by a mason, Isaac Love

Just behind the Baptist Manse is this well preserved home that once belonged to and is believed to have been built by Isaac Love, a mulatto mason. Love purchased the lot in 1781 from Edward Barrett.

Trelawny Street, Falmouth
Trelawny Street, Falmouth

Located next door to the Love House, this property is now being used by the Department of Corrections. I don’t know its background but judging from its design – 2 stories, brick, quoins, the archway, the verandah with fretwork – I’m guessing it could have been built in the 19th century.

Two story house with porches at 2 Trelawny Street
2 Trelawny Street House

Across the street from the Love House is this two story brick house. Construction date unknown.

Elizabeth Somerville House

Historic house, Falmouth
Elizabeth Sommerville House, 8 Trelawny Street

Cross King Street and you’ll arrive at 8 Trelawny Street. The storyboard outside the house describes Elizabeth Somerville, its original owner, as a free woman of color. She was one of the first women of color to buy property in Falmouth after Emancipation in 1834. The house, constructed of wood, is typical of the houses that were built by free people of color around Falmouth. It had two rooms of similar size that were separated by a partition wall. The front room was probably used as a sitting and bed room, the back a waiting and sitting room. Since the house was made of board, cooking would probably have been done outside or in a separate structure away from the house.

King Street

Small board house, Falmouth
Small Board House, Falmouth

Go north on to King Street to see this sweet little house. Another typical Falmouth house, it has been renovated. The outside has been coated with sand, to protect it from fire.

Wooden house, Falmouth
Brick & Board House, Falmouth
Wooden house with wrap-around porch
9 King Street

9 King Street was originally owned by Richard Barrett Waite, who was probably related to the Barrett family. It was likely built in the 1800s. It has a hip roof, tray ceiling and partial wrap-around verandah.

Davidson House

Two story wooden house near Falmouth Pier
Davidson House

North on King Street, near the edge of the pier, is the Davidson House, which was owned by Mary Gairdner, a free woman of color. Gairdner was an extensive landowner in Falmouth. By her 1837 will, Gairdner deeded her “Creole” house to her son, Thomas Davidson, and provided that each of her four children were to remain in the houses in which they were living at the time of her death. The Davidson House is now privately owned.

Davidson House, Falmouth
View of Falmouth Pier from the Davidson House

At this point, we can retrace our steps to the pier. I’ll be bringing you more of Falmouth in other posts.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

43 comments on “A Walking Tour of Falmouth Jamaica, Part II

  1. HI Marcia, thanks for the interesting walking tour. Its amazing how preserved those very old private homes are. What’s more interesting for me are the stories behind them. I’m particulary intrigued by the story of Elizabeth Somerville. Imagine being a free woman of color at the time and being able to purchase her very own home – it must be quite an achievement for her. I feel so proud of her and others like her who made good lives for themselves.
    Marisol recently posted..Kbal Spean: The River of Thousand LingasMy Profile

  2. You’re welcome, Marisol. Elizabeth Somerville is quite an intriguing woman. I’ve thought a lot about her since I found her house. I can’t even imagine a life like hers, or what it must have taken for her to be able to buy her own home. She’s an inspiration.

  3. When I was younger and we had more homes that were made of wood and it was pretty common to see ones that were sand dashed, as we call it. It protected the home from fire and probably termites as well.

  4. I love the corrugated roofs as well, especially when it rains. It’s such a soothing sound that i always just want to pull the curtains and sleep. I’ve been asking about the Davidson House as well. It’s in such a prominent location, I’m wondering if the owners — it’s privately owned — are hoping Royal Caribbean will purchase it. I agree, Falmouth has many homes worth saving. There’s an organization I volunteer with that’s doing some of the restoration but it’s a complicated process, not the least of which is raising the money that’s needed to do the work.

  5. Oh wow – I have loved going on this walking tour with you – both this post and the one previous – so interesting to see the different buildings and houses and the history behind them. Your research is a credit to you. Fascinating. I don\\\’t know what I thought of when I think of Jamaica – but this has certainly opened my eyes. Thank you!Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for stopping by my blog the other day.

  6. Thanks, Mary. Glad you love this part of the walk. Yes, that King Street house is definitely beautiful – inside as well as out.
    You could spend the entire day on the verandah — as i’m sure the owners did, especially on warm days.

  7. I really like no. 1 Trelawny St. I like the bricks, and the boxiness of it. Looks very British.

    I saw in the Bob Marley documentary the village that he grew up in. The houses were just one room board construction. Just like the one you have in this post. It is so interesting to think of what life would be like in a one-room house. You wouldn’t have to worry about the kids lazing around inside all day.
    Hakea recently posted..reblog: a quick tour through the inner workings of your child’s mindMy Profile

  8. I’ve always liked houses with upstairs and downstairs verandahs. Does Falmouth have a lot of regulations in place if you own a historic home? Can the owners change them however they want or must they stay true to the original architecture?
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..Hawaii is DangerousMy Profile

  9. Lots of places to enjoy the outdoors.
    Yes, if you own a historic home, you have to be faithful to the original design and fabric of the home. For example, you can’t use regular cement because it is incompatible with the materials they used at that time. There’s an organization that helps with renovations and provides training so that skilled workmen are available. But it’s a long, slow process and there are many properties to save.

  10. My how things have changed when you look at the last house and a huge cruise ship at the end of the street.
    I think it’s actually quite brilliant to be cooking outside – no need to heat up a house. And I found it very interesting that a house was coated in sand to prevent fires. Maybe southern California needs some sand smeared on their houses in wildfire season.
    Leigh recently posted..8 Great Canadian Train TripsMy Profile

  11. Times definitely have changed, Leigh. Although Falmouth was always a port, ships used to anchor out at sea and goods were brought in by boats.
    Cooking outside or in a separate structure was a common thing up to about 30 or so years ago when we had more homes made of wood.
    You’ve hit on a good point about the sand for those So. Californian homes.

  12. It does, Elizabeth. I suspect the current owners are holding out for someone with deep pockets to purchase it.
    I’m with you on 9 King, it’s a beautiful house inside and out.

  13. You’re welcome, Arti. It’s a fascinating look at how people lived back in the day.
    We hardly build houses like these anymore but they were way more practical and better suited to the climate than what we have now.

  14. Hehehe, that’s one way of looking at it. I thought about privacy, especially when they start to get older.
    Yes, 1 Trelawny is a beautiful house. I haven’t been inside but I suspect it follows the normal layout for houses built around that time.

  15. It is, Nikki, especially if you like historic buildings. Hope you get to see it and have a great time in Jamaica!
    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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