Thomas Jones School of Mission and Evangelism
It was on the 22nd June 1841 that Rev. Thomas Jones and his wife, Anne Jones who established the first permanent mission among the Khasis arrived at Sohra and pioneered the Khasi alphabet, literacy and literature. Through out the history, this day has been a red letter day in the history of the Church in Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Thomas Jones taught the Khasis to commercially extract lime by burning limestone with coal; he introduced the saw and other iron tools and improved their agricultural and construction techniques. This pioneer was followed by many other missionaries who bolstered the Welsh contribution to the growth and development of the Khasi-Jaintia people.
The Thomas Jones School of Mission previously known as Cherra Theological College, was one among the oldest buildings in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills; it is representative of early 20th Century colonial architecture in Sohra. The claim to being one of the oldest major buildings can easily be sustained because nearly all human-made structures were destroyed by the Great Earthquake of1897. The oldest major building is the neighbouring Nongsawlia Presbyterian Church, which was rebuilt in 1898. Perhaps the next oldest is the main building of the erstwhile Cherra Theological College, which had been founded by Dr. John Roberts in 1887. This structure combined the academic block, the library, the chapel, the hall and the administrative rooms under one roof, for better protection against the extremely damp Sohra climate. Construction work began in the first few years of the 20th Century and church records show that the building was dedicated in 1912, during the annual Assembly of the mission held at Nongsawlia. Here, the identification of this building with the college established by Dr. John Roberts in 1887 must be emphasized, if we are to preserve our sense of institutional history.
The building was constructed under the supervision of Robert Jones, the Second principal of Cherra Theological College and skillful builder. The building's design was carefully planned to combat the rainy, foggy, soggy climate of Sohra; to protect books and documents and people from dampness and fungus. It has a distinctive ultra-high roof that slopes down very low on the veranda all around. The veranda has glass panes fitted on the upper portions to keep out the ever-present fog, while allowing in the sunlight. It has double walls, especially around the library, to absorb the extreme humidity. Although the building materials of stone, lime, hardwood and cane are quite common in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills, the architecture is truly unique. The present buildings of the Thomas Jones School of Mission merit preservation as representative of early 20th century colonial architecture amidst rainy, foggy conditions.