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HomeNewsArchivesDANES OFFER TO HELP SAVE HISTORIC STRUCTURES

DANES OFFER TO HELP SAVE HISTORIC STRUCTURES

March 16, 2002 – The V.I. government is mulling over an offer from a group of Danish tradesmen to help preserve some of the territory's historic treasures. For some of them, it could come just in the nick of time.
"They were here to explore the possibility of an exchange of craftsmen between Denmark and the Virgin Islands," Myron Jackson, director of the territory's Office of Historic Preservation, said.
The Virgin Islands-Danish Apprenticeship Initiative seeks to deepen the understanding of history as reflected in architecture. According to a program description from the Historic Preservation Office, "there is a cultural revival being expressed by the Danes and Virgin Islanders with respect to studying their past histories and establishing cultural linkages. It is in this spirit of collaboration that the preservation initiative is being launched, in order to involve both communities in preserving the architectural heritage of the Virgin Islands."
One of the objectives is to train crafts workers to repair and restore historic buildings in the Virgin Islands. The proposal being considered calls for visiting Danish tradesmen to work with students interested in learning traditional bricklaying, woodworking, masonry and iron work. Jackson said an arrangement like that would require a Memorandum of Understanding between DPNR, the Department of Education and a number of not-for-profit organizations.
There is also talk of creating a craft learning center for visiting researchers, high school and college students.
In early March, a delegation of Danish craftsmen and students toured the Whim Museum and Fort Frederick on St. Croix and the Fort Christian Museum on St. Thomas to examine the historic details of their construction.
As anyone who drives by Fort Christian on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront or parks in the fort lot can see, the external east wall of the four-centuries-old structure has crumbled noticeably in recent months. While knowledgeable persons familiar with the situation confirmed the problem is causing increasing concern, no one would comment for attribution.
Jackson said a lack of economic resources in the territory contributes to the neglect seen in many local historic buildings.
If an agreement can be reached on a partnership, he said, the buildings could benefit by acting as training sites. He said other historic public buildings in addition to the three visited by the Danes could be included in the program.
The trades workers exchange and a pilot training program could begin next year, according to a statement from the Historic Preservation Office.

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