Two well-known St. Johnians recently donated several acres of land to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). The land will someday be the home of a new cultural center.
Marva Samuel Applewhite and Gloria Samuel bequeathed four acres of land in Estate Zootenvaal, located near Coral Bay. Marva and Gloria are the daughters of James Alphonso “Harry” Samuel, who owned Estate Zootenvaal. This is the sisters’ second land donation to the University. They previously donated two acres of adjoining land back in 2002.
According to a UVI release, initial plans call to build a cultural center on the land with the intention of preserving the island’s rich history.
“Education has been the number one priority for our family,” Applewhite said in a release. “We decided to give back to the people of the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and the world.”
Marva and Gloria are both retired teachers. Their father was a mason who built the original pier in Cruz Bay and the Benjamin Franklin School, now the Guy Benjamin Elementary School.
UVI President David Hall thanked the women for their substantial gift – the land has an appraised value of about $740,000 – and noted that “ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions.”
“There are common people who are not millionaires or billionaires, people who love and care about education and just give from their hearts,” Dr. Hall said.