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Timeless legacy of Ward Theatre

Published:Sunday | December 3, 2023 | 12:06 AM
Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston.
Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston.

Nestled amid the hustle and bustle of downtown, Kingston stands a testament to resilience that has withstood the test of time — Ward Theatre. Steeped in history and adorned with the echoes of laughter and applause, this cultural treasure is the soul of the theatrical movement in Jamaica, standing as the only theatre of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Originally erected in 1712 as Kingston Theatre, this architectural marvel faced trials by fire and earthquake but emerged each time with renewed vigour. In 1897, rising from the ashes, it became The Royal Theatre, only to succumb to the destructive forces of the 1907 earthquake and fire. Rising like a phoenix once more, it was reborn and redesigned by the visionary artist Rudolph Henriques, transforming into the beloved Ward Theatre that we cherish today.

In 1912, Custos Charles Ward, recognising the profound cultural significance of this space, generously donated it to the people of Kingston. And thus, the renaming to Ward Theatre, a name etched in the annals of Jamaica’s cultural heritage.


Ward Theatre isn’t just a venue, it’s a living, breathing symbol of Jamaica’s vibrant spirit. It has witnessed history unfold within its walls, serving as the launchpad for both the People’s National Party (PNP) in 1938 and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in 1944. It stands as a testament to the power of creativity, the heartbeat of a nation that finds solace, joy, and inspiration within its hallowed halls.

It stands as a reminder that, even amid adversity, art can thrive, creativity can flourish, and the human spirit can persevere. It’s not just a place for artistic expression, it’s a call to action. A call to strive for happiness every day of our lives.

As the cherished gem of Kingston, Ward Theatre continues to resonate with both young and old, weaving the threads of history into the tapestry of our cultural identity. Its walls whisper stories of resilience, passion, and the unwavering spirit of a community that refuses to be silenced.

So, to all who step into the embrace of Ward Theatre, let the legacy inspire you. Live with hope, live with a vision, live with love and, in the pursuit of your dreams, strive for happiness every day.


Contributed by Dr Lorenzo Gordon, a diabetologist, internal medicine consultant, biochemist, and a history and heritage enthusiast. Send feedback to