Thoughts on the Demolition of the St. Rose’s High School –  by Francis Quamina Farrier

Thoughts on the Demolition of the St. Rose’s High School –  by Francis Quamina Farrier

Francis Quamina Farrier

The demolition of the St. Rose’s High School on Church Street, South Cummingsburg in Georgetown, Guyana, began on Monday July 9, 2018, after it was decided by the Board of Governors, that the structure had reached a state of disrepair.

So the demolition was inevitable due to its terminal condition. But that does not ease the pain of many present and former students of the St. Rose’s High School, as well as for many who have never been students of that institution of higher learning, the pain is no less.     

The fact, however, is that there are some in our society who shed no tears for wooden structures which are being pulled down all around us; and there are quite a few along Church Street in Georgetown which have gone the way of the demolition block. The Astor Cinema, a cottage at the corner of Church and Thomas Streets just east of St. Rose’s, another cottage mid-way between Thomas and East Streets, which was once the Evening News TV studio and is now Steve’s Jewellery.

​Farrier with past student of the St. Rose’s High School,
Minister of Public Telecommunications Hon. Cathy
Hughes, MP.

Further east along Church Street there have been some wooden structures between Cummings and Light Streets which have also been pulled down. One of the oldest wooden buildings on Church Street which was demolished some years ago, was the Queenstown Mosque; the first Mosque which was constructed in Georgetown. A new concrete structure has been a work-in-progress for a few years now.

It must be mentioned that the former Chronicle building which was located at the corner of Main and Church Streets in Georgetown, was lost to a fire many years ago. The location which is just north of the Guyana stores, remains empty at this time.

​St. Rose of Lima (Peru, South America) after whom the
school was named.

But back to the St. Rose’s High School. It was constructed almost a century ago and named in honour of St. Rose of Lima (Peru, South America), the first person in the Americas to be elevated to sainthood by the Catholic Church. In the early years, many Catholic nuns, expatriates and locals, taught at St. Rose’s. Guyanese Sister Hazel Campaign was one who served as Headmistress of the school.

In its hay day the large auditorium and stage of the St. Rose’s High School was used for concerts and plays, as well as other events such as seminars and recitals. Many of the Guyfesta Sessions of the 1970s and 1980s were held there. School plays as well as other productions were staged in that vast auditorium. I was involved with some of them acting in plays as well as poetry and storytelling performances. My most recent performance at the St. Rose’s High School was a free Poetry and Storytelling session in June 2016, as part of the Jubilee Year celebrations. That was the last time I was in that auditorium.

Here now are some comments extracted from my Face Book page; Gege, “This is sad to hear”. Deborah, “The wooden white buildings reflected heat and light and there was a natural cooling effect.” Yeon, “The new structure (preferably concrete) is required to ensure safety.” Albert, “The monstrosities should never happen.” Carris, “Should do some Heritage Preservation Guyana”.  Lillian, “Sad”. Ashford, “It is very sad”. Mohabeer, “The character of the city, in many ways, is changing”. Denzil, “I wish we could have kept part of our history so much of that we are loosing it’s so sad.” Dmitri, “Great history and a tragedy not to preserve it.” George, “It is much easier to destroy and replace than it is to preserve it.” Albert, “Change must come. Let’s hope function is following form in the new building.” L-Jay “That’s the outcome when a nation has not been taught to value nor build upon it’s heritage.” Walter, “Just look at our beloved Town Hall, think they care?” John, “That’s sad that a school is being demolished.” Colin, “Maybe they could use the good wood from there on City Hall.”

​Farrier (at center) with students in St. Rose’s auditorium
after his Poetry and Storytelling Session in June 2016.

There is something about the demolition of wooden structures which brings a measure of sadness to many Guyanese, who love and admire our Wooden Heritage; Mrs Bibi Wahab of 338 Cummings Street, South Cummingsburg, Georgetown, for instance, recently renovated and added a third story to her previous two story wooden cottage, using only wood. Her motto, she told me is, “Wood is Good”. On Quamina Street, also in South Cummingsburg, Georgetown, the proprietor of the Colonial Inn decided to keep the existing wooden section, when time came for an extension, which was constructed in concrete. The attractive wooden section facing the street was kept intact.

St. Rose’s High School

Meanwhile, the demolition process of the St. Rose’s High School will be completed by the end of this month, July 2018. Construction of the new school building will commence shortly thereafter, and will be in concrete. The work will be done by Guyanese Courtney Benn Contracting Ltd. That is scheduled to last for a two year period. In a release by the Board of Governors of the school, it was stated that “The agreed final design would take into full account the aesthetics in keeping with the expectations of the stakeholders”. Now doubt, St. Rose of Lima, will be looking on with quiet dignity and praying for all-round success of this project.

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  • panbrowne  On July 18, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Perhaps wealthy alumni in the diaspora could help with the internal décor by making generous contributions to the ST Roses alumni Association. Just a suggestion. Putting your money where your mouth is LOL LOL LOL

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On July 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I have many happy memories of shows and other events held at the St. Roses High auditorium.

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