Restoring a Cultural Icon
by Claudia Colli
The skeletal stone remains of St Philip's church are among the BVI's most prominent 19th century historical sites. But the years have taken their toll and while the walls are still standing, the roof, shutters and doors are long gone and even the massive stone walls are now rapidly decaying, threatening the edifice's structural integrity.
Earlier this year the BVI Government through the Premier's Office donated $15,000 towards the stabilization project. This project was launched through the efforts of Xandra Adamson, a member of the Millennium Committee, a group interested in the preservation of historical sites and which was instrumental in the restoration of the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works. Jon Osman a resident architect, who has worked with Mrs. Adamson on other historical preservation projects including the Planters Cemetery at Johnson's Ghut is collaborating on the effort.
Although the funds are short of what is needed to fully restore the building, they will cover rebuilding the church's alter, the re-enforcement of the church's support beams, the refurbishment of the window sills and clearing vegetation in the adjacent cemetery.
The project, says Premier Orlando Smith is "Part of the Government's tourism strategy to preserve and restore historical sites on all islands and promote their importance and significance in the Territory." The government hopes that cultural projects like this can be accomplished through a partnership with the private sector.
Mrs. Adamson also hopes that the BVI community will support these efforts in the future, so that work on the rehabilitation of the church and further enhancement of the site will continue.