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HomeArts-EntertainmentArts & LiteratureMellon Foundation, NEH and Others Fund Grants for VI Architecture Center

Mellon Foundation, NEH and Others Fund Grants for VI Architecture Center

The Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts Inc. plans to convert this old Christiansted landmark, ‘The Old Barracks,’ into a school for the arts, historical preservation, culture, construction and architecture. (Source photo by Linda Morland)

The Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts (VIAC) has received grant funding from national and local sources to advance its development of an educational center for built heritage, historic preservation, architecture and the building arts at the Old Barracks property on Hospital Street, Christiansted, St. Croix.

The architectural center has been awarded a $200,000 Mellon Foundation Humanities in Place Grant to support strategic planning and design for community and cultural heritage spaces at the Old Barracks property in Christiansted, St. Croix. According to the Mellon Foundation, The Humanities in Place Grant “supports a fuller more complex telling of American histories and lived experiences by deepening the range of how and where our stories are told.”

The Humanities in Place Program “works across and within diverse communities, encouraging bold, innovative rethinking of past practice, as well as visionary new approaches for how to collectively understand, uplift and celebrate more complete stories about who we are.

“With this grant, our first from a private foundation, we begin to plan for and develop the content that will be featured in our exhibit, studio, auditorium and library/archive that is part of our proposed development of the site,” said the center’s Board Chair Mary Dema. “This, according to our business plan, creates a cultural center in Christiansted that can become an attraction for residents and visitors as well.”

The planning team, led by the Virgin Islands Architecture Center VI Advisory Council members Monica Marin, Gerville Larsen and Monique Clendinen Watson, will engage local stakeholders and local subject area experts in meetings to confer on the design of the spaces, conceptual content for exhibits, workshops on built heritage, the preservation economy, property restoration and other relevant topics.

The Virgin Islands Architecture Center has also been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands through the National Endowment for the Humanities to support its Storytelling Project Part II to complete the research and documentary that was started last year in Phase I.

Last summer, the Virgin Islands Architecture Center researchers — Anurie Oliver, Chalana Brown, Monica Marin and Monique Clendinen Watson researched the four eras of Old Barracks history for curriculum development and to create a documentary about the people who lived in, worked in or went to school at the 265-year-old Barracks property. This summer, the team will continue interviews to be included in a documentary that will become part of the VIAC Storytelling Archive.

The architectural center is a non-profit 501(c)3 community development organization, which recently secured a 50-year-lease from the Government of the Virgin Islands to rehabilitate Buildings 1 and 2 of the 265-year-old Barracks property and convert them into a center that will provide training in historic preservation, building trades, cultural heritage preservation and tourism, and cultural and historic preservation entrepreneurship.

“We are thankful to Gov. Bryan, the 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands, and the Department of Property and Procurement for facilitating the acquisition of the lease which is vital to our development efforts,” said Mary Dema.

Rehabilitation of Building 2 will begin this fall, and VIAC summer pilot programs and college internships will begin this summer.  “This is an exciting time for TEAM VIAC,” said Dema. “We will continue to engage the community in the development of this asset on the island of St. Croix.”

For more information, contact the Virgin Islands Architecture Center at info@viacstx.com or call 713-8424.

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