horizontal banner with Preserve America logo and images of a historic downtown, farm, courthouse, and mountain

Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

Preserve America Community:
Christiansted, Virgin Islands

Christiansted (population 3,000), a community in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was founded on the site of the older French settlement of Bassin in 1734. Desiring land more suitable for sugar cultivation, the Danes had purchased the island of St. Croix from France in 1733. Christiansted served as the capital of the Danish West Indies.

As the port thrived, the town grew rapidly in the last quarter of the 18th century, reflecting the general prosperity of the sugar industry. By 1800, Christiansted was a flourishing center for plantation society.

A general decline in the sugar industry began after 1820, limiting development. Except for some minor expansion and other changes, Christiansted has remained within its 18th century limits, and the historic town retains the scale and feeling of a 19th century West Indian port and market.

Christiansted is of special significance for its well-preserved historic buildings, including Danish Neo-classical, Renaissance Revival, and Danish West Indian vernacular structures. The Christiansted National Historic Site comprises five historic structures: Fort Christiansværn (1738), typical of a four-pointed citadel of the 17th and early 18th centuries; the Danish West India & Guinea Company Warehouse (1749), where slave auctions took place; the Steeple Building (1753); Danish Custom House (1844); and the Scale House (1856).

The St. Croix Archaeology Museum is housed in the historic Christiansted Apothecary Hall. It features artifacts from pre-Colombian Native Americans who lived on the island before the Danes, English, French, and enslaved Africans occupied the area.

For more information

Christiansted National Historic Site: www.nps.gov/chri

St. Croix Archaeology Museum: www.stcroixarchaeology.org

Christiansted attractions: www.vinow.com/stcroix/attractions_stx/christiansted.php

Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary -- Historic Places in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/prvi

Posted May 27, 2009

Return to Top