Frequently Asked Questions

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Information About St. John Historical Society

When was the St. John Historical Society founded?

In February of 1974.

What is the mission of the Society?

Since its inception, the Society’s mission has been to document, preserve and share with the public, the history of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This has been achieved with the help of numerous professional historians, crafts people, artisans, musicians and educators who have brought this island’s rich history to life. Through its collections, publications, media, educational programs, field trips, special events and more, the Historical Society has been and continues to be the leading resource for discovering this very special island.

How is the Historical Society governed?

The organization has been sustained and assured by a succession of very dedicated volunteer Board members. Its policies, objectives and mission are all set forth in its Bylaws, which have been periodically updated and are on file with the regulatory authorities.

Does the Society qualify as an Educational Non-Profit Corporation under Federal IRS rules applicable to 501(c)(3) entities?

Yes, in 2001, the Society applied for and was granted Non-Profit status by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. As such, the Society is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in section 501(c)(3). In the same year, the Society’s Non-Profit status was formally recognized by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over the years this status has been reaffirmed by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Society has annually filed the IRS–Return of Organizations exempt from Income Taxes—Form 990. Donations to the society are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Information About Visiting St. John

In what year did the Virgin Islands National Park come into being on St. John.

The Virgin Islands National Park was dedicated on December 1, 1956. By an Act of Congress, the park’s boundaries were established to include 9,485 acres, leaving some 3,000 acres, comprising the two the settlements on the island—Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, to remain outside its boundaries for the benefit of the local population.  Click here to be taken to an article on the establishment of the Virgin Islands National Park.

On what part of St. John will you find Bork Creek, Otter Creek, Water Creek and Princess Bay?

Hurricane Hole in Coral Bay.

What groundbreaking scientific research project took place at Great Lameshur Bay in the 1960s?

The Tektite undersea project, which involved placing four Department of Interior scientists 50-feet below the surface of the ocean for a sixty-day period. It was a program jointly administered by the Navy, NASA and the Department of Interior. The undersea lodging that housed the aquanauts was manufactured by General Electric’s Missile and Space Division.  This website has three articles on the Tektite program: Tektite Program Overview ,  Tektite's 40th Anniversary and Tektite II.

How many historic stone windmill towers are on St. John? Where are they located? What was their purpose?

There are five windmills on the island. They are located on the estates of Denis Bay, Annaberg, Susannaberg, Catherineberg and Carolina in Coral Bay. Their purpose was to crush the sugar cane stalks in order to extract the juice for processing into brown sugar, molasses and rum.

In what year was St. John first formally settled by Europeans and Africans? Where did these settlers land to claim the island?

1718 in Coral Bay.  Click here to learn about Danish struggle to settle St. John.

What was St. John called before 1917?

St. Jan

When the United States purchased our islands in 1917 their name was changed to “The Virgin Islands of the United States.” What were the islands called before the USA purchased them?

Danish West Indies