Spanish Town History

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Throughout its history, Spanish Town has served in countless ways for Jamaica. It was first the refuge for the Arawaks. Next the Spanish saw it as the perfect place for farming and dwelling, and then their priests and missionaries used the town as a religious center. Not long after the island changed hands, the English made it the island’s capital and even changed its name and architecture to suit their needs. If one follows the history of the place one will see its transformation from a small unplanned town to the political and legal hub of the island.
For many years it was home to the “dark-haired, round face, almond shaped eyes, and cinnamon colored jungle lovers.” The indigenous people of South America called the Arawak. War from other tribes causes them to drift north of their homeland to the Caribbean. They were the first inhabitance of the Jamaica. The present name of the island derives from the Arawak word Xaymaca, meaning “Land of wood and water.” When they arrived in the island they realized that the terrain and plant life was entirely different from the dense jungle that housed their original habitat. The material they found to construct houses was different from the ones they were accustom to using. They quickly learned to adjusted and start constructing distinctive dwellings know as the “Bohio” , a “rudimentary hut” that was perfectly compatible with the Caribbean climate.
The bohio were originally rounded huts that was formed by placing posts in circular intervals and weaving walls made of reeds or straight sticks between them. The roofs were conical made from the frond thatch or reeds.
The design evolves where it was no longer limited to the round shape but later resemble traditional tent shape. The ridge framew...

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...facade of King’s House, once a magnificent mansion, together with the Governor's stables. Flanking the eastern edge of the square is the old House of Assembly, now serving as home to the St. Catherine Parish Council offices. The Courthouse on the south of the square burned down in the 1980’s, leaving just the skeleton of the building.
The red brick buildings with their grand entrances and magnificent courtyard speak of an era when Spanish Town was the center and life of Jamaica. The modern day Town on the Plain has long since fallen from its original glory, it still maintains some importance by housing the Jamaica Archives and Public Record Office. Activities played an important role in retaining the life and meaning of the place. Spanish Town has lost much of its architectural language and meaning because its reasons for people to dwell there have been removed.
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