Historic: Moonray Manor, right, was the site of one of the first two black schools in Bermuda. It opened in 1836, and by 1848 it had educated more than 600 children. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Historic: Moonray Manor, right, was the site of one of the first two black schools in Bermuda. It opened in 1836, and by 1848 it had educated more than 600 children. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
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Plans to renovate and restore one of Bermuda’s oldest educational treasures have been welcomed by the National Trust.

There are proposals that will soon go before planners  that will save the old school section of Moonray Manor.

Developers intend to install a plaque on the building to recognize its historical importance.

Moonray Manor on East Broadway was built as the ‘Lane School’, which was one of the first two schools established for black children following Emancipation.

The foundation stone was laid on January 1, 1836, and it opened later that year.

It is recorded that by 1848, more than 600 children had been educated there.

Jennifer Gray, the Trust’s executive director, told the Bermuda Sun: “The Bermuda National Trust has reviewed the Planning application for Moonray Manor and is pleased that the old schoolhouse section of the building will be saved.

“For a long time the Trust feared that it would one day deteriorate beyond repair. 

“Previous changes and additions to the old building were not sympathetic and we are glad that some of these are being removed while the original features are being repaired.

“We are concerned about the impact of proposed floor-level French windows and doors, which would detract from the old section’s identifiableness as a Bishop Spencer School and have discussed this with the owner.

“We are also thrilled that they are planning to install a plaque on the building to recognise its special history.”

The Moonray Manor proposal has prompted fresh calls to preserve another historic schoolhouse opposite the old White’s store on Middle Road in Warwick that dates back to Emancipation.

Dr Edward Harris told the Bermuda Sun the Bishop Spencer School would be the ideal spot for a museum.

The director of the National Museum said: “A little while ago, I was asked about the possibility of a museum being established at Moonray Manor, or some other location in Bermuda.

“I suggested that an ideal building would perhaps be the old school for children of colour opposite White’s Supermarket on Middle Road.

“Thus one could have a museum space with a parking area in a highly visible position, while preserving the building for generations to come.

Meanwhile, the National Trust has said it is keen to work with the building’s owners to secure its future.

Ms Gray added: “It is the best surviving example of what are sometimes known as the Bishop Spencer schools.

“These were erected in Bermuda immediately following Emancipation in 1834 by the Anglican Church, for the education of black children.

“It continued to be used as a school up until at least the 1950s, and is very dear to the hearts of many Bermudians. 

“It is listed as a Grade I building, which recognises that it has survived in essentially its original condition. It is a typical one-roomed schoolhouse of the period and is in need of some preventative maintenance. 

“The Trust would be willing to help the new owners if we can and hope that its heritage value is kept in mind when assessing future options for this historic Bermuda landmark.”