Conservation of the built heritage

Conservation of the built heritage
Local government has implemented conservation zones in Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted and Frederiksted, creating a system for approving new construction and modifications to existing buildings. However, it is impossible to prevent the decay of buildings, since no legislation or funding exists to ensure their conservation.

In Charlotte Amalie the prominent properties on Government Hill are maintained, while many other local government buildings are left to decay. In recent years more have been saved – for example the old Danish school in Frederiksted and the main building of Sion Farm near Christiansted.

The National Park Service, funded by Washington, owns large parts of St. John and maintains landmark buildings and ruins. The National Park Service also owns the main buildings around Fort Christiansværn in Christiansted. 
In general, the number of landmark buildings on St. Thomas and St. Croix is so great that it is impossible to counteract the decay of both the streetscape and landscape by public means. The extensive damage caused by the hurricanes Hugo in 1989 and Marilyn in 1991 left ruins that can still be seen on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. 

The construction industry in the US Virgin Islands suffers from a great shortage of skilled craftsmen, and most construction projects must be carried out by recruiting workers from Puerto Rico or the USA.

The training of craftsmen consists of a basic course at the local technical school, but the real training does not take place locally, at school or with a master craftsman. Students have to go to the USA for vocational training, and this kind of education is not free. 

As necessary as it might seem to strengthen the restoration of the built heritage for the benefit of general development and tourism, and to train young people in the relevant building trades, it is difficult to get such training within the American educational system. 

For six years a pilot programme called the Virgin Islands Danish Apprenticeship Programme (VIDA) existed, training artisans in a collaboration between the Danish technical school system and the US Virgin Islands authorities in building conservation, but the initiative was sadly discontinued in 2006.