Annaberg Cultural Program

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The Annaberg Cultural Program aims to preserve the rich cultural heritage on St. John through demonstrations of skills and crafts that have been passed down through generations.   These programs are open to visiting and local public as well as being an integral part of the Senior Days program and SKIP (School Kids In The Park).  In addition to the demonstrations at Annaberg, the Cultural Classrooms program arranges in classroom visits by cultural bearers telling stories of life and passing on the stewardship of local traditions to future generations. 

Stop at Annaberg between 10am and 2pm to take the self-guided trail and learn about local crafts from Park demonstrators. 
Monday-Wednesday: Bread baker and charcoal maker 
Monday-Friday: Gardener
Friday (subject to availability): Basket weaver 

The ruins of the Annaberg Plantation provide a beautiful setting steeped in the island history of slavery and colonialism.  It was also historically the venue for the Virgin Islands National Park Folklife Festival.  The 29th annual event will take place on February 27 and 28, 2020 during Black History Month at the NPS Ballfield in Cruz Bay and will celebrate the islands’ rich cultural history including traditional music, storytelling, arts and crafts, traditional foods, and activity stations. 

Breadmaking

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Traditional bread of yesteryear and today is baked by local St. Johnian, Icelma Sprauve using an oven from the days of slavery.

Basket Weaving

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Mathew Gibney demonstrates the weaving techniques used to create baskets by hand in the days of colonial rule. At one time St John was so well known for its traditional baskets that basket making was taught in public schools until the 1950s. It is now becoming a lost art so in addition to Annaberg demonstrations, Mr. Gibney visits school students throughout the St. Thomas/St. John School District as part of the Friends Cultural Classrooms Program incorporating historical information into his basket weaving lessons and demonstrations.

Charcoal Making

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Gardening

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The Ruins


Annaberg was constructed between 1797 and 1805 and was once St. John’s most prosperous sugar mill.   The ruins represent a colonial era processing facility known as a ‘sugar works’, designed and built exclusively for the large-scale production of raw can-sugar and its two valuable byproducts, rum and molasses.

It was given the name Annaberg (Annas Mountain) by a Dutch immigrant, Salomon Zeeger who purchased the property in 1758 to honor his wife. In 1796, James Murphy, an Irish-born merchant and slave trader based on St. Thomas purchased Annaberg along with a number of neighboring properties and combined them to form a single, vase sugar estate.

By the time of his death in 1808, James Murphy has become the single largest producer of sugar on St. John with combined land holdings of nearly 1,300 acres and 662 enslaved workers. Although some modifications associated with production downsizing were made to the Annaberg factory in the mid nineteenth century it is the ruins of the sugar works built by James Murphy that are on the site today.

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