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Cultural Center Will be Built Atop Ruins

April 14, 2005 – The St. John Community Foundation's planned Civic and Cultural Center adjacent to Bellevue Village on St. John is home to a small set of ruins that once belonged to the Beverhoudt family.
"It's an important set of ruins," St. John historian Chuck Pishko said Thursday.
He said the plantation dates back to the early 1700s.
Pishko said there are only bits of three or four buildings left at the site, which sits off Gifft Hill Road. They are what remain of a cotton plantation.
He said the houses were made of wattle and daub, which long ago disintegrated. Only the foundations are left.
Pishko said the Beverhoudts stopped farming cotton because the long-staple cotton grown on St. John could not be processed in Eli Whitney's cotton gin.
The house was occasionally occupied until the 1950s, but the area was mainly used for livestock and to burn charcoal.
Carlos Solis of Soltec International Inc., the archeologist who evaluated the property, said it was a small settlement where the manager or owner lived.
He said he found the remains of several smaller structures, including houses for the workers. Solis said the foundations were made of rubble mixed with lime mortar.
"It's not your typical mud-based masonry," he said.
He said the artifacts uncovered included ceramics made in Europe and locall
Reliance Housing Foundation, which is building affordable housing on Gifft Hill Road, bought the property from the Bass family partnership in July 2003.
In December 2004, Reliance turned over 2 and a half acres to the Community Foundation for the Civic and Cultural Center.
While the Community Foundation is not close to starting construction on the Civic and Cultural Center, director Carol DeSenne said the organization plans to start clearing its land on April 24 so people attending Reliance Housing's open house on May 7 can see the property. The open house runs from 3 to 7 p.m.
"We're having the community up so they can look at the first couple of houses," Jackson said.
He said the first 12 units, located in six buildings, will be open for occupancy right after the open house.
Jackson said work will continue on the rest of the units, with the project wrapping up around October or November.
The Community Foundation will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m., April 20, for people who want to serve on the organization's Civic and Cultural Committee. It will be held at Mongoose Restaurant, at Mongoose Junction.
DeSenne said the ruins will sit in the midst of the Civic and Cultural Center.

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