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[photo] The Emmaus Moravian Church and Manse
Photo courtesy of William Lomax

The Emmaus Moravian Church and Manse are significant as examples of the Moravian architectural style. The Moravians were the first Protestants to send missionaries to the West Indies and were in the Danish Islands as early as 1732. They were the only church allowed to minister to the slaves, and were instrumental in establishing Dutch Creole as the language spoken between planters and the enslaved Africans. The Manse is the older of the two buildings. Constructed in 1750, the rectangle shaped building, constructed of rubble masonry with stucco, contains flat-headed window and door openings. The one-story church, originally built in 1782, holds a belfry attached to the west end, in the form of two tiers of square blocks, capped by a pyramidal roof. Both tiers have open arches on the exposed sides and the bell is contained in the upper tier. The masonry foundation is constructed of rubble, ballast brick and native brain coral set in a lime mortar and stuccoed. The land now containing the compound of Moravian buildings originally belonged to Governor Suhm of the Danish West India and Guinea Company in 1717. Acquired by Governor Thomas de Malleville in 1782, the property was given to the Moravians after de Malleville's religious conversion by a free black, Brother Cornelius, who had become a church missionary. Cornelius was a master mason who built at least six Moravian churches.

The Emmaus Moravian Church and Manse are located in the town of Coral Bay, on the island of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. A cemetery dating to the 18th century is associated with the church and is located 200 feet to the east of it. Visitors are welcome to attend services at 9:00am on Sundays, the building is closed at other times. For further information, call 340-776-6713.


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