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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsVIMCCC Coordinates Restoration of Monuments in Educators Park

VIMCCC Coordinates Restoration of Monuments in Educators Park

Sculptor Tom Elicker works carefully to clean and restore the busts in Educators Park. (Photo by Bruce Flamon)

The project to clean, conserve, and restore the bronze monuments located at Educators Park in historic Charlotte Amalie began this week, under the management of Virgin Islands Museum, Civic and Cultural Center Inc. and Tom Elicker, a renowned sculptor with ties to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, who was contracted to provide the conservation services.

This community effort was borne out of the concern of one citizen, Alda Monsanto, who was concerned with the physical condition and appearance of the monuments of outstanding Virgin Islands’ educators and community activists, Jose Antonio Jarvis, Edith Wiliams, and Rothschild Francis. She approached retired Sen. Myron D. Jackson, chair of the Virgin Islands Museum, Civic and Cultural Center, and a plan of action was put in place to raise the required funding needed for the restoration of the monuments.

After knocking on the doors of potential donors and discussions with Rotarian and bank executive, Jim Crites, more than $13,000 was raised to begin Phase II of this project. This funding was made possible through the generous donations of the Rotary Club of St. Thomas, Merchants Commercial Bank, and the Virgin Islands Museum, Civic and Cultural Center.

Preserving the bust of J. Antonio Jarvis (Submitted photo)

Phase I of this project included area enhancements spearheaded by John Euwema of Lab 4 Development and White Bay Group, the adjacent property owner of the recently renovated historic Joe’s Tavern landmark. They were interested in adopting and funding the enhancements and upgrades to the surrounding park, including the green lawn area of Educators Park, and an application was submitted and reviewed by the Charlotte Amalie Historic Preservation Committee in the Office of Historic Preservation. The enhancements for the area have been recently completed.

Educators Park was created through the advocacy and work of a citizens’ committee of St. Thomas educators, journalists and community activists led by Ariel Melchoir and Ruth Moolenaar, in tribute to educator, author, journalist, and artist Jose Antonio Jarvis; educator and suffragist, Edith Williams; and educator, journalist, community and political activist Rothschild Francis, who were luminaries in the socio-political and cultural development of the territory. The statues were created by Puerto Rican sculptor José Buscaglia Guillermety, born in 1938. He is a Fellow of the National Sculptor Society and a founding member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico.

VIMCC thanks Alda Monsanto for her advocacy; its Board of Directors; Rotary Club of St. Thomas, and Merchants Commercial Bank for the funding; sculptor Tom Elicker and team member Joel Asker for conservation and restoration; Sean Krigger and the Office of Historic Preservation; Lab 4 Development, White Bay Group, and Justin Wheatley and crew for on-site assistance; Jim Crites and Val Collens of the project team; Lyle Batiste, and all others who contributed and supported this vital community project.

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