Falmouth Field Guide

29 Cornwall Street

Two carpenters, Robert and William Hunter of Trelawny, purchased three lots on Cornwall Street from Judith and Edward Barrett on September 22, 1797, paying 280 pounds Jamaican currency for the extensive property.1 A two-story, double pile house, 29 Cornwall Street was constructed in the first quarter of the nineteenth century and retains much original building fabric. The interior framing is left exposed but has been planed and beaded, most of the doors appear to be from the first period of construction, and the building sits on a cut stone foundation with fragments of raised mortar joints similar to those at the Baptist Manse on Market Street. The façade disregards traditional Georgian-style symmetrical fenestration by not having a central third opening on the upper floor. Instead, two three-part windows with early nineteenth-century louvers in the sidelights are evenly spaced across this story.

Surveys estimate alterations to the floor plan of the house happened in the second half of the nineteenth century. Upon passing through the front door before the renovations, one originally entered a large front room in the northeastern corner of the house. The staircase to the upper level occupied the space behind this large room. A partition wall subdivided this room sometime in the later nineteenth century, to create a central passage to the rear stair. Two chambers, a larger one in the northwest corner of the building with a smaller room behind, take up the rest of the ground level.

The stairway rises to a large second story room, which appears to have become the most formal public space after the renovations, when a partition was removed to create a space spanning the entire length of the east side of the house. The room boasts a tray ceiling and cornice, as compared to exposed rafters in the other spaces on the second floor. The first floor rooms do not have tray ceilings either, but the underside of the second story floorboards have been planed and beaded for a more finished look. The presence of the two three-part windows on the upper story suggests that these were the finest spaces in the house.

Behind 29 Cornwall is a small service structure, likely a kitchen, which has been greatly altered over time. The west wall is of yellow brick laid in Flemish bond and is certainly contemporary to the main house. This wall likely extended farther to the rear, and a framed north wall and a post in the southwest wall of the structure could also date to the early nineteenth century. The east and south wall are now cast concrete with the only fenestration being on the east wall (three windows and two doors).

The main house at 29 Cornwall is currently used as a daycare center with the service building employed as a classroom. While it was the home of a retired teacher in the late 1990s, the house was repaired with funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica.

1 Judith and Edward Barrett to Robert and William Hunter, 22 September 1797, Deeds, Island Record Office, volume 464, folio 243