St. James City’s first school opened March 27, 1887 and was built by the developers of St. James-on-the-Gulf Corporation and taught appropriately 20 students. The school was active until 1894 when the St. James-on-the-Gulf Corporation ceased to exist and many people moved away from the area. In May of 1896 a fire swept through several homes in St. James City, destroying them as well as the school building.
A second school building was constructed in 1912 by the Sisal Hemp and Development Company at the corner of Oleander and Eighth, but town folk complained that it was too far away. The building was moved to the area bordered by Fifth Avenue, Lemon Street, Date Street and Meeting Street. Meeting Street may be today’s Fourth Avenue. To see the deed from the Sisal Hemp Company to Board of Public Institution, see here.
By the late 1940′s the children of Pine Island were being transported off the island to Punta Blanco to attend school and the old school building in St. James City was sold and moved to a newly dug canal along today’s Oleander Street, down near Hopkin’s Point. There it was turned into a fish camp called the Sea Belle and run by an Englishman named Leonard “Whit” Whittingham for many years.
Some writers mention that another school building was built in St. James City after this one, but no records or recollection of the third school can be found.
St. James City’s second school building. Now the bar section of the Waterfront Restaurant.
Photo Credit Museum of the Islands
The Waterfront Restaurant today. The section with the four windows is their bar area and was the St. James School in another time. Compare to the above picture.
A picture of children and their school on Cayo Costa.
Credit Museum of the Islands
Look at our page on Punta Blanca to see a picture of the School Boat.
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