The first continentals settled in Christiansted, buying old townhouses and restoring them. These people generally came from American cities that conserved and appreciated old buildings, and they were shocked by the shabby decay evident in town. There were just a few native families left living in town by the 1940's, but the newcomers' concerns were matched by the interest of some powerful people like Dr. Canegata, Attorney Leader, Mrs. Brodhurst and Pearl Larsen. Soon the nucleus of a restoration drive was born.
As the idea of spiffing up the town grew in discussions at Donald Down's house on Hill Street, more enthusiasts were drawn in from residents and government officials. The oldest surviving member of the founding group was Betty Skeoch (died 2008) of Castle Coakley. Betty remembers that the first meetings were held on the narrow street-side gallery of the Burnett's house. When more people got involved, the meetings moved to the side patio.
The group agreed to incorporate as The St. Croix Landmarks League, a non-profit, non-political corporation. Bylaws were passed on March 9, 1948, naming George H. Burnett as Chairman, R. H. Amphlett Leader, Esquire, as Vice Chairman, Miss Irene Lowe (later married to Malcolm K. Armstrong) as Secretary-Treasurer, Dr. David C. Canegata, Norman S. Olson, R. Norman Skeoch, and Ove E. Olsen served as members of the Executive Committee. Their stated purpose was "to work for the preservation and confirmation of the architectural beauty, historical value and tradition of St. Croix." The first member assessment (or dues) was set at $3.00 per year.
A myriad of projects were adopted, some of whose stories are covered within these pages. For the past 50 years, masses of energy have been spent on creating the territory's first museum, restoring the greathouse and outbuildings at Whim for educational purposes, then later collecting machinery to demonstrate the process by which so many of our ancestors toiled. We expanded our educational work, developed our files into a major resource library and undertook ecological protection of lands.
One by one, each landmark action seemed easy to do, yet the cumulative list of activities and successes over the past 50 years is simply breathtaking. I believe it was done by our parents, our neighbors and yes, even us, by accepting the truism that today is the only day one has to take action. By taking action on their concerns, our founders preserved the legacy of our fore bearers, they gave the gift of yesterday to our generation. We shall pass it on.