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Looking Back on Virgin Islands History

Aug 18, 2007
Christopher Columbus discovered the U.S. Virgin Islands the year after he discovered the mainland, 1493. Possession all USVI real estate and the dominion of the area first went to the British, and then the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Knights of Malta and then the Danes. The United States purchased the Virgin Islands in the middle of World War one, for a payment of $25 million.

If you are arguing a move to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) or at St. Thomas real estate or other VI islands, you may first want to learn something about the Caribbean culture. Nearby Blackbeard's Castle is a historic slice of Caribbean culture as well. It hovers over the small town, as it has since the 17th century. Once a bastioned castle called Skytsborg, it is today home to a hotel and restaurant.

The unique Caribbean culture of the USVI is composed of the heritage of its former inhabitants. Early USVI property owners included those from West Africa, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Poland and Germany, as far back as the end of the 15th century. A large part of the Caribbean culture is reverberated in the USVI music. Here you will be plunged in cariso, calypso, reggae, soca and steel pan songs and melodies. Art is rampant in the local flavor of its drawings, paintings, photography and sculpture. Camille Pissarro, a noted Impressionist painter was but one of the achieved artists who owned property on St. Thomas and other USVI islands.

You will get a great look at Caribbean culture at the numerous festivities. On St. Croix Island there is a festivity called the Three Kings' Day, St. John's Island is the home of the USVI Fourth of July celebrations, and on St. Thomas Island is the yearly Carnival. There are tons of other celebrations annually which reflect the area's Caribbean culture.

The story behind the Caribbean owners of St. Thomas property is engulfed in Caribbean history including the Pirates of the Seas and is best found at the island's historic Fort Christian national landmark. The oldest structure on the islands, Fort Christian is in the town of Charlotte Amalie. Here you can visit the Virgin Islands Museum and research the memorabilia of early islanders. The Fort Christian Market Square has been a bustling market since the 1700's. While food and other goods are sold there now, its first sales were of slaves. Emancipation Garden is near Market Square. It is named for Governor Peter von Scholten's 1848 emancipation of the slaves. The oldest tabernacle in the U.S. that has persisted in continuous use is on St.Thomas as well.

Additional interesting views of Caribbean culture can be found at Crown House on St. Thomas Government Hill. Still elegant, it was the home of the harbormaster and governor general of the West Indies when Denmark ruled the area. Seven Arches Museum, an additional bit of local Danish history, is a completely restored circa 1700 home, complete with slave billets. Owning St. Thomas property is clearly having a slice of history in a land engrossed in Caribbean culture.
About the Author
Garland Choate (GR) is a retired Airline Captain who now publishes articles from the USVI. Find many great articles about Caribbean Living and great luxury homes in paradise at http://www.StThomasLuxuryHomes.com
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