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History of the Exchange building

Have you ever passed this building in the courtyard of the Central Bank of Barbados and wondered what it was? Allow us to give you a brief introduction into the building which houses the interactive galleries of the Exchange Interactive Centre.

Constructed in the 18th century it was deemed a building of historic interest by the Barbados National Trust. Work began in 1733 by Thomas Harrison, who purchased 3257 square feet of land to facilitate a school for poor boys in the parish. The school was called Harrison’s Free School and finally opened in 1745 with 24 boys. After a devastating hurricane caused damage to the property in 1780, the building was repaired and then sold to freemasons in 1871. By this time the school had outgrown the facilities and realised it needed additional space for sports. When the Freemasons acquired it in 1871 they added a third story, which provided a splendid meeting room and banqueting chamber on the top floor up until 2005, when the property was purchased by The Central Bank of Barbados.

The building was then restored and extended for use as a museum and visual arts exhibition space, officially opening in February 2018. A beautiful winding staircase leading to the gallery floors is enclosed by glass walls that offer a fantastic view of the area and is one of the modern additions made to the building. For easy access to the upstairs floors, an elevator was also added to provide comfort for all and accessibility to those in wheel chairs.

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