St. Thomas

National Historic Site

(1960 - 1975)

U. S. Virgin Islands

Pruning the Parks: St. Thomas National Historic Site (1960-1975) Left the Park System as Quietly as It Entered

National Parks Traveler

By the late 1950s, the cumulative effect of deferred maintenance and neglected repairs was very apparent and some USVI residents were voicing concern about Fort Christian’s preservation. Secretary of the Interior Fred Andrew Seaton responded by signing an order establishing the St. Thomas National Historic Site, under National Park Service administration, effective December 24, 1960.

The Park Service never activated St. Thomas National Historic Site. The entire structure was allocated for territorial prison and police station use except for the southwest bastion, which housed the Civil Defense office of the Virgin Islands, and four lower rooms of the southeast bastion, which housed a small museum of local history established in 1971 by USVI’s first elected governor.

Under the terms of the Submerged Lands Act of 1974 (PL 92-4351), Congress transferred ownership of Fort Christian to the Virgin Islands government. St. Thomas National Historic Site was abolished effective February 5, 1975, having existed for a little more than 15 years as the only national park established on Christmas Eve.