Falmouth Field Guide

43 Cornwall Street

The house at 43 Cornwall Street was built by Edward Hoole soon after his purchase of two lots in 1812. Hoole was a prominent citizen of Falmouth; in discussing a robbery of a store in Water Square, an 1826 edition of The Gossip states “Surely His Honour the Custos is unacquainted with the uselessness of the constables that attend on Mr. Hoole and are more frequently employed in rendering the accounts for the late Cornwall Gazette, and other private matters, than in doing the business of the public.”1 Hoole was active in local politics, serving as the Clerk of the Vestry in 1816.2 In 1826, he was the Deputy Notary Public, the Deputy Receiver-General and Public Treasurer, and the Deputy Naval Officer, Clerk of the Navy, Clerk of the Peace, Court, and Police, and the Distributor of Stamps at Falmouth.3 That Hoole occupied all these offices at once suggests that the public offices were limited to a small community of powerful individuals. Listed as a “gentleman of Trelawny” in the deed, Hoole purchased two connecting lots from Samuel Barrett Moulton Barrett for 260 pounds on June 24, 1812 and built his house on both of them. Hoole’s property on Cornwall Street was a section of Falmouth just developing in 1812; the deed indicates that the lots bound to the west on “streets not quite completed and called or intended to be called Pitt Street.”4 Set back from the street, the house is a three-bay structure with an open plan, large hipped roofs, a front and rear yard.

3 Cornwall is one of the largest houses in Falmouth. Interestingly, it ignores many of the architectural conventions established for most other elite houses in town. It is not a two story merchant house/store. While it has a masonry lower level, its upper story is brick, not frame. Living spaces for the family occupied both floors, not just the upper level. In a new section of town, off the primary commercial corridors of Falmouth, the materials and organization of 43 Cornwall Street suggests it was built by someone with significant personal wealth.

The building has two refined floors and demonstrates the Jamaican proclivity to construct buildings using a number of materials. The ground floor is built of squared stone (ashlar) and raised mortar joints, whereas the upper floor is built of bricks laid using Flemish bond. On the interior, there is a clear system of hierarchy in place, in which materials and finishes are used to distinguish elaborate public spaces from less important private spaces. Many of the side rooms within the upper and lower levels, for example, are private and feature exposed wood frame and unpainted surfaces and ceilings. In contrast, the doors leading to the two side rooms on the ground level face the best room and are made of rich materials and are more detailed than other doors throughout the house.

The main entrance is centered on the front façade and opens directly into a large room located in the front right part of the home, one of four rooms on the first floor. The front room located directly beyond the entrance way is then separated by an original transverse partition which creates a second front room. The front room is plastered, and each of the openings – except for the arched doorway – has double architraves. The materials as well as style of this layout can be seen throughout other houses in Falmouth. Directly ahead of the two front rooms is an arched opening creating an axial passage which gives access to the two rooms at the rear of the house.

The second floor is accessed through an enclosed stairway in the front right corner of the house, which rises along the right wall and leads to a front reception room with a c. 1900 tray ceiling. The room runs the length of the façade and is lighted by six-over-six sash windows. In the center of the room is an original double door that opens onto the upper floor of the porch. The upper level utilizes a floor plan similar to that on the ground floor, with an elaborate arched doorway which boasts paneled piers, a double architrave arch, a scrolled keystone, and dentil caps. The archway creates an axial passage and provides access to two rear corner rooms and an enclosed rear porch. The porch shows traces of having had a wide window on the rear which may have possibly been similarly coordinated on the left side. A door on the right side of the porch allows entrance to an exterior masonry stairway. The door is a six-panel neoclassical door which may have been salvaged. The porch has a gabled roof and an exposed beaded wall frame. The rear yard boasts an early kitchen with its masonry stack still intact.