Manning’s gets $30m in pledges to restore historic building
The Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland-based Manning’s School on Thursday received $30 million in financial pledges toward the restoration of its historic Thomas Manning Building, which has fallen into a state of disrepair.
The financial pledges were made during the media launch of the school’s major fundraiser for the project, which was held both in-person and on several virtual platforms. The JN Group pledged $20 million while businessman and past student, Victor Lowe, pledged $10 million. The school is seeking to raise $100 million to fund the restoration work.
The historic building, which was erected in 1915, was declared a National Heritage Site by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust in 1999. Over recent years, it has fallen into disrepair and was declared unsafe for use in late 2019.
Prior to being declared unsafe for use, the building housed the school’s library and resource rooms and was recognised as being among the oldest such buildings of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
Moses Chybar, the chairman of the Manning’s School Board of Management, told The Gleaner that new facilities will be included in the building’s restoration, such as the digitisation of the school’s library.
“We could actually do the work in a year, or maybe a little longer because the framework of the building itself has to be dealt with. There is also the internal side of the work because we are going to have a state-of-the-art digitised library, which we have never seen anything of that sort in western Jamaica, and also there is the museum we are going to be adding,” said Chybar.
SECURING FUNDS FOR COMPLETION
Cosmond Jackson, chairman of the restoration project’s planning committee, said that further outreach will be done to secure more funds for the work’s completion.
“I think today’s [Thursday] launch was a huge success. We have been able to get quite a few pledges, and the tendering process [regarding the contract for the work] is in motion now, plus we are continuing the outreach in terms of trying to get additional funding for the project,” said Jackson.
The Manning’s School, which was founded in 1738, and the Thomas Manning Building, are both named after Westmoreland plantation owner, Thomas Manning, who bequeathed a plot of land for the construction of a free school in the parish.
The restoration work will include the creation of a monument in honour of Manning’s 14 slaves who worked at his property in the nearby Burnt Savanna community and who were integral in the school’s foundation.