Home News Local news V.I National Park Raising Money to Create History Museum

V.I National Park Raising Money to Create History Museum

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March 14, 2008 — Unlike museums on the mainland, which often take millions to build and outfit, the V.I. National Park needs less than $200,000 to create exhibits in an existing 17th-century building at Cinnamon Bay that currently serves as the park's archeology lab.
Park Archaeologist Ken Wild made the case Friday to the Rotary Club of St. John at its weekly meeting at the Westin Resort and Villas Beach Café.
"We have $25,000 raised," he told the approximately two dozen people gathered for the meeting.
Wild acknowledged that the building sits in an area that is eroding, but said rocks have been placed seaward to help stave off further erosion. The exhibits are designed to be removed in case a hurricane threatens. And because the exhibits can be removed, he said, they can easily be taken to schools.
Cinnamon Bay is the best place for a museum because it's the site of the park campground, which is also where Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups often camp out, Wild said. Additionally, the beach has no admission charge, which makes it more available.
St. John needs the museum to provide a sense of place for residents and visitors, he said.
"It's not just about artifacts," Wild said. "It's to [recognize] who was here before."
The museum will lay out the island's history from the first arrival of humans around 1000 B.C. to the development of tourism in the 1950s. The park opened in 1956. Wild and many volunteers spent several years excavating a Taino Indian site near the proposed museum building. The park also has artifacts gleaned from various plantations around the island.
"We have plates the kids ate off at Annaberg School," he said, referring to one of the schools built under the direction of Gov. General Peter Von Scholten.
The exhibits will also intertwine the island's natural history with human history. Wild is working with the University of Copenhagen to plot all the plantations that existed during the days the territory was under Danish control.
Wild is also working in conjunction with the St. Thomas Historical Trust and the Friends of the Park group to study and make restorations on Hassel Island. The island, which sits in the middle of Charlotte Amalie Harbor, was once the site of Creque Marine Railway and a military garrison.
Showing an image of the marine railway, Wild said the coal shuttle in the photo was just discovered in the Hassel Island bushes. The park plans to uncover the military garrison, the Hassel Island forts and clean up part of Careening Cove.
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