Our Mission is to advance the understanding and appreciation of the unique historical and cultural legacy of St. Croix through preservation, research and education.
Through its museums and an array of educational programs, the Landmarks Society continues to cultivate appreciation of St. Croix's rich history and enduring legacy.
In 2008, the Society was awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Presidential Award, acknowledging "60 years of diligence in protecting, preserving and celebrating the irreplaceable heritage of the island of St. Croix."
Fifty years ago, the St. Croix Landmarks Society was born from the catalyst of concern applied to time and economic potential. Enthusiasm and hard work reclaimed the heritage and history of the people of this island. It is hard to realize today that in 1948, we did not have a Planning Board or Zoning Laws; that there was no such subject as Black Studies. How few of us remember the limited powers of the elected members of the Councils? All these things and more were changed by the actions of the people who started the Society we have today.
The beginning of the St. Croix Landmarks Society has roots from two directions. The first root was begun by local residents who had been collecting pre-Columbian artifacts for years. Residents including George Seaman Sr., Erik Lawaetz, Folmer Andersen,and Annie de Chabert had been picking up Indian artifacts casually or through dedicated digs for decades, sometimes displaying them in parlors, more often just put away. By early 1948, residents had decided they wanted a museum. Working with members of the Municipal Council, they set up a display on the first floor at what was Library building in Christiansted.
The other root grew from dismay over the run-down conditions in St. Croix viewed anew by returning service men and women and immigrating Americans, many of whom had been trained at Benedict Field, a U. S. Air Force base. They brought enthusiasm and effort together and made a tremendous change in our society, the scope of which can hardly be imagined today. It is a good story of cause and cooperation.
A great number of fighter pilots trained at Benedict Field, located on Estates Manning's Bay, Negro Bay and Envy. Most of the estates in that area were no longer in agricultural production, and many were in ruins. Betty Skeoch remembers how distressed she and husband R. Norman Skeoch were when the 27th Army Corps of Engineers had to raze all the undamaged buildings at Betty's Hope which lay within a three mile radius of the air field. She recalled that the greathouse had a splendid room with an incredible stone work arched ceiling: irreplaceable, and it all was doomed. Norman's father had been the manager there. "We couldn't save any of it," she recalls. Many of the servicemen and women who mustered through Benedict Field were seeing the tropics for the first time and fell in love with them. After World War II, a slow trickle of immigrants from the United States began that became a flood by the 1960's. Native servicemen and women, sickened by the destruction of war, came home aware of the importance and esteem people abroad had for preserving their historic sites.