Historic Structures at Christiansted NHS

Fort Christiansvaern was built on the site of an earlier French fortification dating from the late 1600s. When the earthwork was destroyed in a hurricane in 1738, it was replaced by the structure you see today. Like many other buildings in Christiansted, it was constructed primarily of yellow bricks brought from Denmark as ballast in sailing ships. The fort was completed by 1749, with the last additions dating from 1835-1841. The fort was built to protect shipping from attack by pirates and privateers, enforce the collection of custom duties, and quarter Danish troops responsible for preventing slave insurrections. After 1878, the fort was converted for use as a police station and courthouse. It has been restored by the National Park Service to its appearance as a military establishment in the 1830s and 1840s.

The SteepleBuilding (Church of the God of Sabaoth) was St. Croix’s first Lutheran church, completed in 1753. The tower was added between 1794-1796. Its use as a church ended in 1831. Rather than fund costly hurricane repairs, the congregation moved to another location at King and Queen Cross Streets. The building was later used as a military warehouse and bakery, hospital, school, and is now a museum

Danish West India & Guniea Company Warehouse Denmark’s slave-trading monopoly completed this building in 1749. During the second half of the 1700s, the entire complex was three times its present size, encompassing storerooms, offices, quarters for the Company’s personnel and slaves, and the slave auction yard. After 1833, the Danish military used it as a supply depot. It served as a telegraph office beginning in 1900, and as a post office from 1939-2001.

The colonial government carried out the collection of import and export taxes at the Customs House. Part of the first floor dates to 1751, when it was part of a row of buildings in the Danish West India & Guniea Company’s compound. The existing structure was completed in 1841. Until 1927, the post office was located on the second floor. Between 1927-1972, it served as the Christiansted public library. Today it is used as the headquarters for the National Historic Site.

The first all-wood Scale House, built in 1740, was replaced by the present structure in 1856. The 1861 scale is still in place. It could take 1600 pounds, the weight of a full sugar barrel. Imports and exports were inspected and weighed at this facility to determine the custom duties (taxes) to be charged. The office for the weighing master was located on the gound floor. Quarters for soldiers attached to the Danish customs service were located upstairs.

Government House is made up of two town houses. The central wing, along King Street, dates from 1747. It was the residence for Johan Wilhelm Schopen, who was a merchant, government surveyor, and building inspector until it was purchased as the residence of the governor-general in 1771. The adjacent building, at the corner of King and Queen Cross Street, was completed in 1797 for the merchant and planter Adam Sobotker. It was acquired by the government in 1829. Governor-General Peter von Scholten had the two structures combined, and designed the imposing eastern facade and stairway in 1830. Government House is still part of the National Historic Site, although ownership was transferred to the Virgin Island Government in 1984.

The Bandstand or gazebo was built in late 1917 by locally recruited U.S. Navy.

The Lutheran “Church of the Lord of Sabaoth” (1753-1831) The first Danish Lutheran church on St. Croix was built between 1750-1753, having a length of 77.5 feet, a width of 26.8 feet, and a ceiling height of 18 feet. The church (excluding the tower, which was added between 1794-1796) was probably designed by Building Inspector Johan Wilhelm Schopen. Unlike other historic churches on St. Croix, the altar of this church was positioned in the center of the long south wall. This is deduced because of the size of the altar, which still exists; the alignment of the windows in the south wall compared to those in the north wall; and the location of the brick flooring under the pews. The Italian marble tiles, imported from St. Eustatius in 1753, defined the walking surfaces.

The building was consecrated as the “Church of the Lord of Sabaoth” on 27 May 1753, the Rev. Rudolph Burenarus Frick from St. Thomas. The word Sabaoth is an ancient Hebrew word meaning “Hosts” (armies of angels), and is an Old Testament attribution for God. In local usage, however, the church was referred to as the “DanishChurch.” The church’s name was retained by the congregation when they moved in 1834.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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