Estate Niesky was a working plantation purchased by the Moravian Church
in 1755 to supplement its mission at New Hernhut in eastern St. Thomas.
Count Zinzendorf, the leader of the Moravian movement, asked Augustus Gottlieb
Spangenberg to establish missions in the Netherlands' Caribbean colonies.
The Niesky plantation was purchased for a mission, and Spangenberg, who
subsequently established missions in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania,
preached the first sermon under a cotton tree. Training slaves to be artisans,
the Moravians taught that manual labor, freely undertaken, was not necessarily
degrading and that such skills could bring economic security. Even though
a September 21, 1819, hurricane damaged the original 18th-century church,
the building stood. A new Mission house was occupied on July 17, 1829,
and in October of 1858, the 1771 church was torn down and a new one consecrated.
Hurricanes destroyed the new church in 1867 and 1871, and each time island
residents rebuilt the church on its old foundation. The remains of stone
walls dividing the site into planting plots are all that survive from
the original 1771 plantation, which had been enlarged from the 1755 property.
Today, the complex consists of a manse, church, slave quarters, a small
cemetery and other outbuildings. The manse, now used as a school and offices,
was largely rebuilt after a fire in 1971; still, much of the original
1828 structure's exterior remains.
Photo from National Register collection
Estate Niesky is 1.5 miles west of Charlotte Amalie, off Harwood
Hwy. on St. Thomas Island, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.