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New Building Markers to Help Recount Island History

June 8, 2006 – Placing markers at key locations across the district is a "great way" to bring awareness to locals and tourists about the territory's historical past, members of the St. Thomas-St. John Historic Preservation Commission said Thursday as they placed a gold plaque on the St. Thomas Bank building.
The plaque detailed the evolution of the building – located in the Rothschild Francis Market Square in downtown Charlotte Amalie – from its early use as a bank to its recent purchase by the Methodist Church.
"What's great about the building as well is that it's one of the finest examples of rustic brickwork in the territory," commission chair Felipe Ayala said. "And it retains the historic yellow coloring."
Ayala and other board members said the plaque was the first of 16 others that would be installed on other buildings across the district. Other sites include the Memorial Moravian Church, the Legislature building, Emancipation Garden and the Enid Baa Library. "We plan to put up one plaque every month," commission board member Robert Moron said. "It's a project that was started by the previous commission and one that we thought should move forward. So we went through the district and pulled sites in all the different quarters that we thought had the most significance."
"And they are all popular places," Ayala added. "We picked sites that people stop and look at all the time. Now, if they're giving themselves a self-guided tour, for example, they can look at the building and get to know the history."
"That's very important," Myron Jackson, director of the V.I. State Historic Preservation Office, said. "Especially since many people don't know so many sites around the island have a history attached to them. This building, for example, many locals don't even know what it was used for. Now they will be able to."
Ayala further stated that the historical information about each site was garnered from records at the Baa Library and some of the commission's files. "Plus, we preservationists just know this kind of stuff," he said.
Ayala added that the first phase of the project was sponsored through a grant awarded to the commission in 2005 by the West Indian Co. Ltd. "We hope to do a new phase of the project each year until everything is plaqued," he joked. However, Ayala explained that additional sponsorship would be needed in order for the project to continue.
"We hope people would see what we're doing with this and would want to sponsor it," he said.
Jackson said that a similar project is ongoing on St. Croix. "The commission over there has been identifying sites as well," he said.
Funding for the St. Croix project came through a 2005-2006 community development block grant.
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