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St. James Heritage Sites

Salter’s Hill Baptist

Voluntarily constructed by enslaved Africans in 1825, the Slater’s Hill Baptist Church is of significance having contributed greatly to the welfare of the enslaved and former enslaved communities during the pre and post emancipation era.

The building is also connected with Walter Denby, a Scotsman. Rev. Denby was imprisoned for his work with the enslaved Africans but he was subsequently released and continued the building of the Church.

From this site a former enslaved person in the post emancipation period addressed a huge crowd and highlighted the injustices of the system. He also spoke about the need for land in order for enslaves to become self-supporting. The famous abolitionist William Knibb also served this church as a Minister.

The Walter Denby Memorial was erected on the site as a tribute to Pioneers in the Baptist Ministry and those who worked on behalf of the labouring population after emancipation.

The Slater’s Hill Baptist Church was destroyed by fire in the early nineteenth century; however, the basic structure of the building remains standing. It is a symmetrical cut stone building in the Georgian style of architecture and the design is very attractive. The interior of the building retains the dominant character of the design, for example, the arches for the windows and doors and the baptismal font are still intact.


The Dome

Located in Montego Bay in the parish of St. James, this quaint structure with its white wooden fixed louvres and yellow brick tower [London stock] was erected over the source of the creek in Montego Bay.

At first, the Dome was simply a rounded roof or covering for the water bubbling up at the head of the creek, but soon it came to play an important role in Montego Bay’s water supply.

The installation of the water pipe system in 1893, however, saw the decreased usage of the Dome but it has proved a great alternative in times of drought.


Fort Montego

Fort Montego, located in Montego Bay in the parish of St. James, appeared to be a large fort. It housed four 12 pounder guns and five smaller guns. It was built to guard the approaches to the town of Montego Bay, however, it was an inefficient fort.

In 1760, one of the fort’s rusty guns exploded and killed a gunner while firing a salute to celebrate the surrender of Havana. Edward Long, noted Jamaican historian, a few years later found the fort in decay and doubted whether it was worth repairing, since its location, according to him, was not very strategic. The only occasion the fort fired at a ship was in 1795 when the officers at the fort mistook an English ship for a French privateer. Luckily there were no casualties.


Barnett Street Police Station 

The Barnett Street Police Station dates back to the late nineteenth century and is of architectural significance, being constructed of cut stone. The design features of the building are symmetrical and therefore indicative of the Georgian style of architecture. The stone wall surrounding the compound is in pristine condition and is one of the few remaining walls of its type in Montego Bay.

The Barnett Street Police Station featured prominently in the Montego Bay Riots of 1902. Riots played a great part in the history of the police force of the nation, as it was the first time in Jamaica that policemen marched in ranks with fixed bayonets.


Sam Sharpe Square

In 1976 Charles Square in Montego Bay was renamed Sam Sharpe Square in honour of national hero Sam Sharpe who was from Montego Bay. Sharpe was executed in the Montego Bay Market Place on May 23, 1832 for his role in the 1831-32 Emancipation War. The square includes several heritage structures: the Sam Sharpe Monument, the Cage, the Civic Centre and the Freedom Monument and a fountain.

The Sam Sharpe Monument, designed by Kay Sullivan, portrays Sharpe holding his Bible and speaking to his people. The five statues were cast in bronze in Jamaica.

The Sam Sharpe Monument, designed by Kay Sullivan, portrays Sharpe holding his Bible and speaking to his people. The five statues were cast in bronze in Jamaica. They were unveiled by the then Prime Minister the Most Honourable Edward Seaga on October 16, 1983 at a ceremony in the Square.

Built in 1806, the Cage was used as a goal for enslaved Africans, disorderly seamen and vagrants. About 1822 the Vestry replaced the wooden structure of the Cage with one of stone and brick. The Cage has since seen a number of uses.

The Court House, now the Civic Centre, was built in 1803. It was at this Court House that the trial of many of the enslaved Africans, including Sam Sharpe, who participated in the Emancipation War, was held. Sharpe was tried here on April 19, 1832.

By 1959 the court offices and local government offices had become too large for the building to accommodate them and the court offices were moved to new premises on St. James Street. The court house was destroyed by fire in 1968.

In 2001 the building was restored by the Urban Development Corporation, with funding from the Venezuelan Government through the San Jose Accord. The building was reopened as the Montego Bay Civic Centre. It is a multi-faceted facility with provision for a museum, art gallery, performing arts and conferencing facilities.

The Freedom Monument was erected in 2007 to memorialize the enslaved persons who participated in 1831-32 war of emancipation.


Rose Hall

Overlooking the beautiful Caribbean sea, on the hills of the former Rose Hall Sugar Estate, approximately 10km, from Montego Bay, St. James is the very imposing Rose Hall Great House. With the many stories about its former owner, Annie Palmer and the cruelty she meted out to her slaves, Rose Hall Great House is a very popular visitor attraction.

Restored to its former glory, visitors may have a guided tour of the Great House, and visit the tomb of Annie Palmer.

Restored to its former glory, visitors may have a guided tour of the Great House, and visit the tomb of Annie Palmer. On the grounds of the Great House are several gift shops and snack counters.

Rose Hall Great House was built in the mid 19th Century by George Ash for John Palmer, Custos of St. Thomas for £30,000. The Great House which is of Georgian architecture is built of cut stone on the first two levels and stucco on the third and uppermost level. The main approach to the second level of the building consists of a cut stone symmetrical grand staircase which leads to a veranda on the seaward side of the building.

The building is completed with sash windows, keystone, quoins and a hip roof.


Heritage Sites by Parish


Learn more about Jamaican Heritage sites here.

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