76.5 F
Cruz Bay
Monday, January 17, 2022
HomeNewsLocal newsLove City Celebrates The Battery's Reopening After 4 Years

Love City Celebrates The Battery’s Reopening After 4 Years

An aerial view shows the newly renovated Battery in Cruz Bay, St. John. (Screenshot from Facebook)

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. marveled at how far the Virgin Islands has come as he gathered with fellow dignitaries on Tuesday to mark the reopening of The Battery on St. John.

Damaged in the hurricanes of 2017, the historic building has undergone a $1.13 million renovation that will see it resume life as administrative offices and the governor’s official home on St. John after being shuttered for repairs for more than four years.

The structure was originally built in 1774 as a fortification at Cruz Bay on St. John, then renovated into offices and the governor’s house in 1824 by a free Black man, Bryan said.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. speaks at the ceremony marking the reopening of The Battery in Cruz Bay, St. John, on Tuesday. (Screenshot from Facebook)

“1774 – what were the people of color doing?” asked Bryan, noting that the building predates the Declaration of Independence and founding of America in 1776. “We weren’t chilling out inside of it, that’s for sure,” he said.

Advertising (skip)

While some might question efforts to preserve the buildings of enslavers, Bryan flipped that script and told those gathered under a tent outside The Battery that it is a testament to the talent and perseverance of those who built the structure under the most difficult circumstances.

“We actually built them. We are preserving it to remind us of where we have been and whence we have come,” said Bryan, who said St. John is his favorite of the three major U.S. Virgin Islands and that he’s happy to have an official home there once again.

Those who ruled the islands at the time The Battery was built could not have imagined that 247 years later, the ancestors of the people they enslaved would now be in charge, said Bryan.

Custom Builders began renovating and restoring The Battery in February 2020 with funding from insurance proceeds. Jaredian Design Group was responsible for the engineering, design, and oversight of the rehabilitation work.

An aerial view shows the newly renovated Battery in Cruz Bay, St. John. (Screenshot from Facebook)

Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory hailed the occasion as a sign that the Virgin Islands is indeed moving forward with its recovery. Four years ago, in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, there was a sense of defeat and loss, but also resilience, she said.

St. John Administrator Shikima Jones-Sprauve sings the national anthem and the Virgin Islands March to open the ceremony. (Screenshot from Facebook)

Tuesday’s ceremony “says we are making progress,” she said while thanking the Office of Disaster Recovery and its Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien for pressing the federal agencies “to get what’s rightfully ours” to fund the many repair projects created by the hurricanes.

“The recovery is in focus,” said Williams-Octalien.

Speaking for Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach, who is attending the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association meeting in Ohio, his chief of staff Monica Williams Carbon said she looked forward to the many events that will now resume at the property. These events include storytimes, Christmas celebrations, and the annual Easter egg hunt hosted by the first lady.

Officials, including Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien, St. John Administrator Shikima Jones-Sprauve, and Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory, cut the ribbon to the newly renovated Battery at a ceremony on Tuesday morning. (Screenshot from Facebook)

“This is a great day for the Virgin Islands – especially for the residents of Love City and St. John. We got our house back,” said St. John Administrator Shikima Jones-Sprauve.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.



JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,558FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more