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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 3, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTrunk Bay Ruin Undergoing Repairs

Trunk Bay Ruin Undergoing Repairs

Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove at Trunk Bay sugar factory.A crumbling sugar factory ruin sitting along the North Shore Road at V.I. National Park’s Trunk Bay is being shored up by a team of eight restoration masons from San Juan National Historic Site.
"When I saw this, it was alarming. It was in the final stages of disintegration," Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said Thursday.
Hardgrove worried that an entire wall would crash down onto the North Shore Road, posing a safety hazard and forcing the park to close the heavily-traveled road.
After volunteers cleared the vegetation, the masons and park staff got to work stabilizing the ruins. The roof was long gone, which Hardgrove said allowed the stone walls to crumble on themselves.
A wooden brace now encircles the upper part of the walls, wooden scaffolding that will remain until the building is in good shape fills the building’s interior and galvanized poles called outriggers hold up the walls.
The stone rubble that crumbled off the building will be used to restore the walls, and the park took samples of the mortar used in the original work so crews could replicate it for use in the restoration.
The San Juan-based crews will continue to work six days a week into September.
However, this is just the first phase of what Hardgrove envisions as the development of a new interpretive site for the park. Once enough work is done to make sure visitors aren’t in danger, the park plans to put up signs interpreting the site’s history.
Hardgrove said the park will also remove all the non-native vegetation from the area behind the factory to expose ruins that sit out of sight and off the road.
"There are the ruins of a house up there, and a sugar mill," St. John historian Chuck Pishko said.
Hardgrove hopes to have the work done by 2016 to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
Pishko has done significant research on the property, but got lucky when former St. John resident Nancy Edwards gave him the historical records of her late husband, Steve Edwards. He did a lot of research into St. John history during the many years he lived on St. John.
The property was originally owned by Adrian Runnels, a Statia-born Dutchman who moved from St. Thomas to St. John in 1691. He owned Estate Adrian, named for him and located directly uphill from Trunk Bay. In 1725, he added Trunk Bay to his sugar plantation holdings so he could have a seaport.
It’s not clear when the sugar factory fell into ruin but Pishko said that an 1823 inventory indicates it was intact. Another inventory done in 1845 show the building was in ruins.
The property changed hands many times since Runnels’ ownership, with later owners dividing Estate Adrian and Trunk Bay into separate properties. Paul Boulon was the final owner, but Pishko said he sold the 40 acres where the sugar factory sits to the Park Service in 1956. That was the year the park opened.

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Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove at Trunk Bay sugar factory.A crumbling sugar factory ruin sitting along the North Shore Road at V.I. National Park's Trunk Bay is being shored up by a team of eight restoration masons from San Juan National Historic Site.
"When I saw this, it was alarming. It was in the final stages of disintegration," Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said Thursday.
Hardgrove worried that an entire wall would crash down onto the North Shore Road, posing a safety hazard and forcing the park to close the heavily-traveled road.
After volunteers cleared the vegetation, the masons and park staff got to work stabilizing the ruins. The roof was long gone, which Hardgrove said allowed the stone walls to crumble on themselves.
A wooden brace now encircles the upper part of the walls, wooden scaffolding that will remain until the building is in good shape fills the building's interior and galvanized poles called outriggers hold up the walls.
The stone rubble that crumbled off the building will be used to restore the walls, and the park took samples of the mortar used in the original work so crews could replicate it for use in the restoration.
The San Juan-based crews will continue to work six days a week into September.
However, this is just the first phase of what Hardgrove envisions as the development of a new interpretive site for the park. Once enough work is done to make sure visitors aren't in danger, the park plans to put up signs interpreting the site's history.
Hardgrove said the park will also remove all the non-native vegetation from the area behind the factory to expose ruins that sit out of sight and off the road.
"There are the ruins of a house up there, and a sugar mill," St. John historian Chuck Pishko said.
Hardgrove hopes to have the work done by 2016 to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
Pishko has done significant research on the property, but got lucky when former St. John resident Nancy Edwards gave him the historical records of her late husband, Steve Edwards. He did a lot of research into St. John history during the many years he lived on St. John.
The property was originally owned by Adrian Runnels, a Statia-born Dutchman who moved from St. Thomas to St. John in 1691. He owned Estate Adrian, named for him and located directly uphill from Trunk Bay. In 1725, he added Trunk Bay to his sugar plantation holdings so he could have a seaport.
It's not clear when the sugar factory fell into ruin but Pishko said that an 1823 inventory indicates it was intact. Another inventory done in 1845 show the building was in ruins.
The property changed hands many times since Runnels' ownership, with later owners dividing Estate Adrian and Trunk Bay into separate properties. Paul Boulon was the final owner, but Pishko said he sold the 40 acres where the sugar factory sits to the Park Service in 1956. That was the year the park opened.