September 22, 2017 4:29 pm Last modified: 2:43 pm

St. Thomas Historical Sites

There are beautiful beaches, fabulous restaurants and great shopping on on St. Thomas, but there's also a tremendous amount of history.
Forts, ruins, pirates – they're all a part of the island's past. And even though some of the legends are more interesting than the real history, it's still a unique island with incredible stories behind it. And the closeness of some historic structures to the downtown shopping district make it easy to check out both.


Blackbeard's Castle
Blackbeard's Castle is now the site of an inn above downtown Charlotte Amalie. The view from the tower is breathtaking. Blackbeard, for whom the castle is named, was originally named Edward Thatch. Some say his pirate name (drumroll, please) came from his large black beard. His encounters with English merchant ships off the coast of the southern United States and Caribbean Islands is recorded in British history books. The Danes built the tower bearing Blackbeard's name in 1679 as a watchtower over Charlotte Amalie. It is not clear when the name changed or exactly why, but legend has it that in the early 1700s, Blackbeard used the watchtower as a vantage point for his own benefit. The tower is a national historic site.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Bluebeard's Castle
The grave pirate Bluebeard's beard was probably not actually blue. Legend has it that it was white, but took on that classic aged blue tint as he got older. Legend also has it that Bluebeard build the stone tower east of Charlotte Amalie for his wife, whom he later killed.
But that's all just legend. In fact, the tower was actually another Danish structure built as a lookout point over Charlotte Amalie Harbor in 1689. The tower is located in the center of the Bluebeard's Inn hotel grounds where you will find plenty to do at night. With one of the island's oldest and finest restaurants, Banana Tree Grill, and another notable fine dining establishment, Room With A View, Bluebeard's Hill may boast one of the highest concentrations of fine dining options on the whole island.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Hotel 1829
Hotel 1829 was actually built in that year by Alexander Lavalette, a very wealthy French mariner and merchant. It was not a hotel until 1906, though. The structure was originally one of the largest homes in that section of town, and the home was ornately decorated with pieces from all over the world. Today, the dining room has its original floors, with tiles from Morocco and Marinique. The kitchen was built inside the main house – rare at that time because few people would tolerate the heat from cooking on top of the hot Caribbean weather – and the kitchen is now the hotel bar. Architecturally, the hotel is unique for it's U-shaped design and the front staircase, which flares out at the bottom. The initials AL are still visible in the wrought-iron work on the front of the hotel.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Haagensen House
Haagensen House was the home of yet another wealthy European, Hans Haagensen and his wife Sarah Julia. The home was built in 1827 for the Haagensen's and their nine (wow!) children. But there was not much pitter-patter of little feet: The only staircase connecting the upstairs and downstairs is outside. Five of the rooms in the home are managed by the St. Thomas Historical Trust, and are filled with West Indian antiques, giving visitors are sense of how wealthy Danes lived at the time. The home is located up the hill from Hotel 1829.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


99 Steps99 Steps
If cruise ship food or the heavy local cuisine has you feeling sluggish, check out the 99 steps – a misnomer, considering there are now 106. The 99 steps are located on Kongens Gade, just east of Hotel 1829. Legend has it that the steps were built to compensate for poor urban planning by the Danes, as it was easier to climb steps than it was to climb hills. The original bricks are from Denmark. T
he rewards for climbing are many: native flowers and plants line both sides of the stairs, where numerous lizards sunbathe. The view at the top is worth the climb.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Emancipation Park
Emancipation Park is just north of the 'tent city' shopping area in downtown Charlotte Amalie. The park was named in for the freeing of the slaves, which occurred July 3, 1848. Many official government ceremonies are held in Emancipation Park. The park has several benches and a gazebo.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Fort Christian
Fort Christian was named for the Danish King Christian V. It is the oldest building still standing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The fort's purpose was to defend Charlotte Amalie and its harbor from attackers. The fort took 14 years to build (1666 to 1680), and since then it has served as a government center, a prison and police station, and a community center. In the early 1980s it became a historical center, and contained art, documents, antique furniture and more. Note: Fort Christian closed in early 2005 for extensive interior and exterior renovations. It was scheduled to remain closed for more than a year, but will be open by 2007, government officials say.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Legislative Building
Originally a police barracks, the legislative building was built in 1828 and largely rebuilt in 1874. Since the mid-1950s, the building has contained the V.I. legislature, legislator's offices and their staff. This building is where the ownership ceremonies were held in 1917, the year the United States bought what was then the Danish West Indies. Between 1917 and 1930 it was a Marine Corps barracks, and later it was a public school.
Go to: St. Thomas Places To GoSt. Thomas AttractionsSt. Thomas Art GalleriesSt. Thomas Beach GuideSt. Thomas Accommodations GuideSt. Thomas Community Events CalendarSt. Thomas Taxi RatesV.I. Ferry Schedule


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply