Former Home of St. Andrews School
1954 - 1972
Three former pupils Orjan Lindroth, Marcus Lindroth and Ken Chaplin met on site at Centreville House for the first time since the 1960’s. Although they attended school in slightly different years, they shared many memories of those days and had many funny and interesting stories to tell. Although St. Andrews is now located on Yamacraw Hill Road, the number of students seems to have remained more or less the same at 650 pupils.
Ken Chaplin, pictured on the right, not only attended St. Andrews in the years it was located at Centreville House, but his father was the Headmaster and his mother a teacher there. He indicated that his father and he had recently toured the grounds together and reminisced about those days. Back then the building that is now used by the Disabilities Council was their home although they later constructed an apartment in some of the rooms of Centreville House itself.
On this visit to the site June 11th, the three former students toured the house and grounds and identified various buildings, rooms and their uses. They recalled that no student was allowed to use the front door and the grand staircase but all had to line up at the rear of the building. Classes started on the bottom floor for the beginners and then literally ascended floor by floor as student progressed through the system.
They remembered in particular how wonderful it was to have a seven acre “playground” that gave them lots of scope for a variety of games including British Bulldog, a rough game of “tag” which sounded as if it certainly got rid of a lot surplus energy as it involved teams of boys running from one side of what is now the main park area and the one boy in the middle (the bulldog) tackling them as they try to get to the other side. Once caught they also become a bulldog and the game goes on until all players end up in the middle - pity the lone person trying to escape!
Another popular one was playing “tops” with wooden tops made from Lignum Vitae and a nail as the spinner the object being to smash the other players’ top and playing marbles, each type of marble having a name.
At one point in time the Nassau Opera Company stored all its props and clothes in the ‘cellar’ inside the house and a few of the students used to sneak in and have a great time playing with the props.
Other games that they recalled were of the more illicit variety such as dropping a cherry bomb in the toilets, dropping an ink bomb on a teachers head from one of the verandahs. Ken recalled in particular that as he lived on the premises, he knew all the secret entrances to the eaves and could cut out of class if he sat at the back, sneak out through a door to the eaves or secret passage and go off to the tuck shop, then slip back into class the same way without being noticed.
Amanda Meyers has her own memory of having her mouth washed out with Dove soap at age 5 and can’t help but wonder what infraction could have caused that to happen.
The house itself continues to fascinate, containing as it does, some unique and advanced features to this very solidly built mansion. This house was reconstructed after the original building, a wooden structure, was demolished in the 1929 hurricane. Orjan pointed out the unique features of this house which is scheduled to be restored over the next year or two and will then re-incarnate as The National Museum of the Bahamas.
For instance the bathroom fittings are all original yet seem quite in fashion with today’s trends. All of the original windows, frames, doorways and fireplaces are still intact and will be restored with some loving care to their original beauty.
The verandahs that circle the house on every floor are spectacularly wide and provides wonderful cooling to the house - the three men all recalled that it always seemed cool in the classroom even on the hottest day and Ken remembered sheltering safely with his parents in the house during Hurricane Betsy. He also recalled a tree at the south end of the property near the smaller still existing buildings, that he thought they called a Mamy tree which was most likely a Dilly tree.
(Left) The Gand Staircase at the front entrance. (Right) The back staircase where students entered.
The huge, spectacular, 80 year old wooden roll down ‘blinds’ shown above still exist as does most of the original flooring and the window frames.
One of the most surprising features is the existence of a central vacuum system throughout the house circa 1926. However it was destined for a short life as the workmen, whilst building the current structure, used it to vacuum up all the concrete and construction waste completely blocking the entire system and rendering it unusable from then on.
According to Orjan the original structure preceding this one was actually larger by another two sections and the smaller separate buildings at the back of this house were used for various classrooms - whilst the other classrooms were inside the main house although it seemed as the school and the attendance grew, class room use changed as needs changed.
Originally the school had only white students although it was for both boys and girls. Eventually the school was integrated and some of the first pupils to attend included Dr. Doris Johnson’s daughter and Loretta Butler.
Memories abound and any former pupils who have stories they would like to share are invited to post their comments.