Falmouth Historic Town

Completed Project
World Monuments Watch
Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica

Located on Jamaica’s northern coast, near Montego Bay, Falmouth is the capital of the Parish of Trelawny in the county of Cornwall. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the town flourished as a political and commercial center, serving as a busy port and center for the trade of rum and sugar manufactured on the plantations of Trelawny Parish. From about 1840 onward, however, the town fell into steady decline. In 1988, Falmouth was severely battered when Hurricane Gilbert swept through the area. Many of the town’s earliest buildings remained standing following the hurricane, but suffered from neglect. In 2001 the Falmouth Heritage Renewal Trust was founded with the mission of preserving the historic buildings and urban fabric of Falmouth, while also improving its socio-economic conditions through training, job creation, and building to support tourism and sustainable development.

2000, 2002, 2004 and 2008 World Monuments Watch

In 2008, a grant was awarded through WMF from the Annenberg Foundation to stabilize the historic gaol (jail) of Falmouth. Completed in 1814, the structure is of national historic significance, and represents one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the Falmouth Historic District. While a majority of the original design features remained intact, a number or repairs were recommended for structural stability. Debris was removed from the building and the old, corrugated zinc roof was rebuilt with like materials. Windows were re-glazed or replaced when necessary and repairs were made on the small entrance portico which had suffered considerably from weathering and rot. The cut stone walls of the jail were restored and re-pointed with lime mortar.

Falmouth not only boasts a large, intact collection of Georgian period buildings, but is also one of the Caribbean’s best preserved historic towns. The historic district was declared a National Monument by the Jamaican government in 1996. Until recently, Falmouth had been visited by only relatively small numbers of tourists. With the opening of a cruise terminal in Falmouth in 2011, there is a significant increase in visitors to this residential community. Through conservation and preservation of its monuments, including the historic jail, and numerous homes, the town has retained its character and continued to be a vibrant community. The town has prepared for potential growth in tourism and hopes visitors from the cruise ships will appreciate the beauty and history of Falmouth, leading to economic benefits for the community.

Last updated: July 2017.

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