Title:  The U.S. Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Plan for 2003-2008

Image: previous Virgin Islands Preservation Plan Cover
Previous Virgin Islands Preservation Plan
Number of Pages:  37
Approval Date:  February 12, 2004
Planning Cycle:  5 years

Contact Information:
Sean Krigger
Deputy SHPO
Div. for Archaeology & Historic
Dept. of Planning & Natural
17 Kongens Gade
Charlotte Amalie
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, 00802
(340) 776-8605; fax (340) 776-7236
E-mail: sean_krigger@vishpo.com

Mission/Vision Statement:
Mission Statement The Virgin Islands of the United States contain a wealth of historical, cultural, and archeological properties, both on land and in coastal waters. Their preservation, study, and interpretation are vital to the self-understanding and self-esteem of the people of the Virgin Islands and to the interests of national and international science in a comprehensive understanding of the history and cultures of the people and the environment of the Virgin Islands.

The cultural patrimony of the Virgin Islands and its people should be maintained to create a better quality of life. Our mission is to preserve the reminders of our cultural heritage by increasing awareness and appreciation of our unique history. This history is contained in prehistoric and historic archaeological deposits, both terrestrial and marine, manifested in sites of cultural and spiritual meaning, and reflected in the outstanding architecture and beauty of historic buildings and sites of the Virgin Islands. We will accomplish our mission through encouragement and education, and by sponsoring and assisting programs that promote historic preservation in the Virgin Islands.

Table of Contents:

    1. Introduction
    2. The Purpose of a Preservation Plan
    3. Important Themes in Virgin Islands Prehistory and History
    4. Overview of the Cultural Resources of the Virgin Islands
    5. Preservation Efforts in the Virgin Islands
    6. The Future of Historic Preservation in the Virgin Islands
    7. Future Outlook
    8. Five-Year Goals for Historic Preservation in the Virgin Islands
Public Participation Strategies:
  • Public review of previous Plan and draft revised Plan;
  • Series of public meetings to collect comments on the Plan;
  • Direct contact with preservation professionals and organizations to solicit comments.
Other Plan Development Strategies:
  • VISHPO staff reviewed previous Plan for clarification and expansion, and to identify critical issues.
Archaeological, cultural, and architectural heritage; prehistoric and historic archaeological deposits (both terrestrial and marine); historic buildings and sites; inundated prehistoric sites, shipwrecks, and other underwater archaeological sites; terrestrial prehistoric villages, procurement sites, and special activity areas; terrestrial historic properties and districts; individual historic buildings of great architectural skill and beauty; vernacular architectural types and styles; historic archaeological sites ranging from sites of the early Colonial period to contextual sites for standing buildings; sites and objects of the prehistoric period that include villages, burial grounds, middens, petroglyphs, and ball courts; prehistoric Archaic period sites; potential for underwater prehistoric sites; early Danish, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish Colonial sites on all three islands, such as forts and protective batteries, early plantations, and towns; 17th and 18th-century architecture, such as Government House, Fort Christian, Charlotte Amalie National Register Historic and Architectural Control District, Christiansted Historic and Architectural Control District; Christiansted National Historic Site, including Fort Christiansvaern; Frederiksted National Register Historic and Architectural Control District including Fort Frederik; 18th-century sugar and cotton plantations; plantation estate house complexes, including outbuildings, walled family cemeteries, and enslaved workers quarters; windmills; enslaved worker communities, including houses, cookhouses, wells, and cemeteries; sugar production facilities, such as mills, storehouses, rum stills, and cisterns; early public schools; early 19th and 20th-century sugar factories and mills; slave revolt sites, such as the Fortsberg fortification, Caneel Bay plantations, and ruins of Estate Carolina and Cinnamon Bay; 19th-century seaport and commercial facilities in Charlotte Amalie; Emancipation Garden; historic neighborhoods, such as the Savan sections of Charlotte Amalie; historic churches, missions, and synagogues; historic industrial and infrastructure sites, such as lime kilns, water catchment basins and cisterns, mountain roads, signal stations, processing works for indigo, cotton, and cassava.


  • Modern industrial development and vandalism threaten archaeological resources;
  • Coastal "bias" in archaeological investigation results in the identification of fewer interior and upland prehistoric sites;
  • Rising sea levels and erosion threaten coastal archaeological sites, both historic and prehistoric;
  • Development related to growing tourist economy threatens all cultural resources;
  • Several local non-profit organizations, such as the St. Thomas Historical Trust and Our Town Frederiksted, help promote cultural resource preservation;
  • Public interest in preservation is confined to a small segment of Virgin Islands society, and involvement is limited to the same key people;
  • Greater need to increase the general public's awareness of cultural heritage and preservation;
  • Frequent hurricanes cause damage and destruction to historic structures and landscapes;
  • Resurgence of pressures for economic development at the expense of cultural resources;
  • Immigration and emigration causes shifts in the ethnic heritage of VI residents, challenging the strategies used for preservation education;
  • Fewer native Virgin Islanders remain who care about Island traditions and heritage;
  • Local road construction and maintenance activities tend to be insensitive to the needs of cultural resources, damaging archaeological and historic sites and often using incompatible materials;
  • Seaport and airport development and expansion threaten cultural resources;
  • Increasing affluence and demand for housing leads to subdivision of large properties, sprawl, disappearance of rural landscapes, archaeological sites, and historic ruins;
  • Lack of appreciation of Island history and cultural patrimony is evident in the deterioration of historic towns, neighborhoods, and landmarks;
  • Heritage tourism opportunities exist to capitalize on the Islands' unique architectural heritage;
  • Private, non-profit groups are assuming more responsibility for raising community awareness;
  • Potential is great for public-private partnerships in preservation projects;
  • Opportunities to include preservation in Enterprise Zone Plans for historic towns damaged by hurricanes;
  • Need to expand teacher training, school curricula, seminars for elected officials and government staff, and neighborhood education programs on historic preservation;
  • Need for a Territory-wide museum system and other interpretive programs targeted toward both residents and tourists.
  1. Amend, enhance, and revise existing legislation that will assist in the protection and preservation of cultural resources and historic properties.
  2. Seek and encourage financial assistance from organizations and individuals engaged in historic preservation within the territory.
  3. Increase territorial awareness and appreciation of historic preservation and encourage appropriate treatment of cultural resources.
  4. Identify all archaeological and historic properties within the territory through an ongoing systematic survey and identification program.
  5. Develop state-of-the-art information technology to facilitate research, preservation initiatives, and information exchange.
  6. Exceed standard levels of competency for archeological and historic preservation professionals and others working and needed in historic preservation in the Virgin Islands.
  7. Develop Annual Recurring Goals for the VISHPO.
  8. Continue to advocate and support the efforts of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, support groups, and organizations in archival records management, museum science, and genealogical research within the territory.
Strategies Implementing the Goals
  1. Legislation.
    • Expand a state-level tax incentive program;
    • Develop a historic building code;
    • Increase the size of architectural control districts in Christiansted and Charlotte Amalie;
    • Develop rules and regulations for the antiquities legislation;
    • Examine the creation of a revolving fund for private archaeology, preservation, and collections management projects;
    • Develop a revitalization plan for historic towns.
  2. Financial assistance.
    • Encourage non-profit groups to develop funding program;
    • Increase grant funding for survey and registration projects;
    • Encourage financial institutions to offer low interest loans to historic property owners;
    • Encourage community development corporations to consider preservation projects;
    • Secure Federal Highway Enhancement funding.
  3. Increase awareness.
    • Encourage heritage tourism and historic trail development;
    • Expand Preservation Month activities;
    • Assist non-profit organizations in holding public lecture series, conferences, and workshops;
    • Publish technical guides and newsletters;
    • Foster relationships among property owners, real estate agents, contractors, architects, and government agencies;
    • Recognize excellence in preservation;
    • Hold seminars and workshops for legislators, government agencies, private organizations, and neighborhood groups;
    • Prepare curriculum guide for educational institutions;
    • Develop publication on Local and National Registers;
    • Establish an Underground Railroad study.
  4. Identify resources.
    • Survey vacant lots in historic districts for archaeological resources;
    • Increase nominations to the National Register;
    • Document cemeteries and burial grounds;
    • Survey plantation village sites on St. Croix;
    • Create a database for underwater archaeological sites and shipwrecks.
  5. Develop information technology.
    • Develop a web home page;
    • Establish computer-based curation and information management system;
    • Seek funding for a GIS system.
  6. Professional standards.
    • Provide training in new conservation techniques;
    • Increase collaborative training opportunities with federal agencies;
    • Update list of preservation professionals;
    • Provide practical preservation experience for students.
  7. Annual goal.
    • Increase public awareness;
    • Provide training for preservation commission members, DPNR staff, neighborhood groups, and preservation organizations;
    • Provide workshops for teachers, principals, and students.
  8. Archival management.
    • Secure, protect, and manage historic records and documents;
    • Implement the provisions of the U.S. Virgin Islands-Denmark Archival and Museum Agreements;
    • Support the collection, access, and protection of genealogical records.
Cooperating/Partnering Organizations:
Historic Preservation Committees in Christiansted, Frederiksted, and Charlotte Amalie; Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute; Museums of Ft. Christian and Ft. Frederik; National Park Service, including Virgin Islands National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Christiansted National Historic Site, and Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve; St. Thomas Historical Trust; Virgin Islands Humanities Council; Our Town Frederiksted; St. Croix Landmarks Society; St. Croix Foundation; St. Croix Archaeological Society; Virgin Islands/Caribbean Genealogical Societies; Caribbean Genealogical Library; the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands; The League of Women Voters; neighborhood groups, such as We From Upstreet and We Savaneros; Social Sciences Department and the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of the Virgin Islands; U.S. Federal Highway Administration; VI Department of Public Works; U.S. Housing and Urban Development; The Nature Conservancy; National Association for African American Heritage Preservation; VI Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums; VI Tourism Department.


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