St. John has many interesting historical sites scattered throughout the island. Many people tend to visit the sugar mills – Annaberg, Catherineberg and Peace Hill are all located within the National Park. Today, however, we’d like to tell you about one of the lesser known sites, one that’s among the most significant historical sites on the island – Annaberg School.
Located about 30 yards before the Francis Bay/Annaberg intersection on the island’s north side is the trailhead to the former Annaberg School, sometimes referred to as the Mary Point School. The trail to the school is only .2 miles and is at the end of a well maintained trail that has a slight incline throughout.
So you may be wondering why this site is of historical significance? Well that’s because it’s the one of the first efforts to institute compulsory education throughout the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands) in 1839. The school was created to provide education to the children of enslaved laborers throughout the Maho Bay Quarter: Cinnamon Bay, Vaniniberg, Munsbery, Annaberg and Leinster Bay.
Construction on the school house began in 1847, and it began operating in 1856. The school was only open for about five years as it was plagued with staffing issues. In 1861, the school was closed and the students were sent to school in nearby Coral Bay.
The Annaberg School never reopened. It is believed that it was likely destroyed in the “disastrous hurricane and earthquake year of 1867,” according to the National Park Service. The NPS also notes that the school may have outlived its usefulness as emancipation was achieved in 1848. At that time, the dwindling number of enslaved workers who remained on the plantations sought out spiritual, social and educational needs elsewhere.
We took this quick video at the site to share with all of you:
So if you are looking to do something new during your next visit, add the Annaberg School to your list. Or even better, let us take you there. For more information on our island tours, please visit www.newsofstjohn.com/islandtour