In reaffirming its commitment to conserve and promote the BVI’s natural and historical heritage as attractions for visitors and residents alike, the Government of the Virgin Islands has thrusted its support behind a project to stabilise one of the Territory’s most significant heritage sites: the St. Philip’s Anglican Church also known as the Church of the Freed Africans.
In an interview with the Department of Information and Public Relations, Premier and Minister for Tourism Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said, “Part of Government’s tourism strategy is to preserve and restore historical sites on all islands and promote their importance and significance to the Territory.”
He added that preserving the natural and historical heritage is important for sustaining the cultural history and artefacts of these Virgin Islands. The Government through the Premier’s Office has donated $15,000 towards the stabilisation project, which was recently started through efforts by Mrs. Xandra Adamson, member of the local Millennium History Committee and Mr. Jon Osman, resident architect with a keen interest in heritage sites.
The funds donated by Government will cover the rebuilding of the church’s altar; re-enforcement of the church’s support beams; refurbishment of the church’s window cills and the clearing of vegetation in the adjacent cemetery.
According to Mrs. Adamson, further plans have been made to enhance the site, but future activities depend on the support of the wider BVI community.
BVI enhances tourism product through heritage site project, http://bvinews.com/bvi/bvi-enhances-tourism-product-through-heritage-site-project
St. Philip’s Anglican Church a.k.a. the Church of the Freed Africans in the Kingstown area of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands was built in the 1830s for a community of Africans liberated from slaving vessels after Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1808. The Church, which included a school, is claimed by local historians to have been the first free black church in the Americas. Sources: