The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) is monitoring repairs at the Ward Theatre to ensure that its heritage value is maintained.
Renovation work is ongoing at the theatre, a historical landmark situated on North Parade in downtown Kingston.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on May 24, Acting Executive Director of the JNHT, Dorrick Gray, said a preservationist architect has been working with the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) to ensure that guidelines are followed and repairs “fit into the overall structure of the building.”
He pointed out that any changes to the building will have to be approved by the JNHT, although the building is managed by the KSAMC.
“It is a declared monument and we are interested in ensuring that the integrity of that building is maintained,” he added.
As it relates to what areas of the building will be maintained, Mr. Gray said the structure is being assessed, after which the details will be discussed with the KSAMC.
However, he noted that several areas are made of wood and they have insects and termites.
“So, a lot of those will have to be replaced. But it is a work in progress,” Mr. Gray said.
Highlighting the importance of the building, he argued that it represents “the local art of us as a people and the birth of the annual Pantomime.”
Mr. Gray said the Ward Theatre, donated to the City of Kingston by Colonel C.J. Ward in 1912, is the last of four structures to have been constructed on the same site.
He noted that the first one was built in 1770.
“The last one before this theatre was built was destroyed by the 1907 earthquake,” he added.
The Ward Theatre, which was declared a national monument in January 2000, is among some 300 sites declared as protected heritage by the JNHT.