St. Croix's many
historic churches reflect the rich social diversity and religious
tolerance that has characterized the island since Danish times.
Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Dutch Reformed, Moravians, and
Jews all established places of worship during the 18th Century.
The Moravians came as missionaries in the 1730s to convert the enslaved
Africans, and their success encouraged other faiths to follow suit.
Enslaved and free African-Caribbean craftsmen built most of the
churches. Architecturally, the churches display an interesting
blend of international styles and local detailing that speaks of out
distinctive Creole heritage.
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church - Built in 1848 to meet the
rising expectations of Emancipation, the church expanded shortly after
construction to accommodate a growing congregation. Built from
local cut stone, the west entry facade has elements of both Gothic
Revival (lancet doors and windows. and Neo-Classical (paired entry
columns.) The curved gable ends appear to be Spanish Baroque
influenced. The interior has been altered considerable. The
church, its bell tower and adjacent convent with loggias. are replete
with local details
2. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church - This simple church was built in
1792 to replace and earlier wood structure built in 1766.
Originally a hip roofed, classically detailed structure, the changes
over the years have been consistent with the original design. The
tower base predates the cupola and may have been a part of the 1792
structure. The raking gables and finials were early 19th Century
modifications. The pulpit was centered over the altar and
approached from the rear. Now it has been mover to the northeast
corner. Despite changes to the interior, the scale and ambiance of
the original church remain.
3. St. Paul's Anglican Church - This hybrid church combines an
1812 West Indian hipped roof structure featuring classical and local
details with a Neo-Gothic, three tiered tower built in 1848. The
main entrances were via north and south porches with several
Neo-Classical details of pilasters, cornice and parapets. The
entrance function was shared by the west tower after the 1840s.
The Tower of local limestone and Danish brick was built to exacting
standards of Anglican orthodoxy. It has been completely restored
after a recent devastating fire. Noteworthy are the local mahogany
carved alters and the English pulpit and prayer tablets.
4. The Steeple Building was built as the Lutheran church of Lord
God of Sabaoth 1750-53. The Baroque tower with its four-tiered
octagonal cupola, reminiscent of Copenhagen's belfries, was added forty
years later. In 1838, after the congregation moved to the donated
Dutch Reformed Church on King Street, the building was used by the
government as a military base and storehouse and later as a school,
community hall and hospital. It is now administered by the
National Park Service as a museum.
Lord God of Sabaoth Lutheran Church - The main body of the present
church was built around 1740 as a Dutch Reformed Church. It is St.
Croix's oldest extant church. After 1831, the building was taken
over by the Lutheran congregation as a replacement for their original
church, now the Steeple Building. The most distinctive feature is
the Neo-Classical tower, built in 1834, and designed by Albert Lovmand,
the official architect for the Danish colonies at the time.
6. Holy Cross Catholic Church - Originally built in 1755, Holy
Cross was extensively altered in the 1850s. Architecturally
striking, it combines the molded facades of San Juan's 17th Century
churches complete with engaged entry columns and elaborate cornice
moldings along with Neo-Gothic elements favored in the 19th Century.
Though still impressive, the interior has been considerably altered
since the 1970s with the removal of the stenciled lime plaster and
window and door changes.
7. St. John's Anglican Church - St. John's was built in
1849-1858, replacing an earlier 1772 structure. A fire in 1866
destroyed much of the original interior. This design and
rebuilding reflects the fully realized fidelity to the Gothic Revival
style prescribed for Anglican churches throughout the world. Its
masonry details, three-tiered tower and elaborate hammerbeam roof
framing are noteworthy.
8. Friedensthal "Valley of Peace" Moravian Church and
Manse - This mission church was founded by Moravian brethren in the
1750s to minister to enslaved Africans, conveying useful skills as well
as salvation. The parish house - or manse - was built in the 1830s
as both a school and dwelling. the present church of unaltered,
simple elegance, built 1852-1854, features a masonry and wood pedimented
Friedensfeld "Field of Peace" Midlands Moravian Church
- Dedicated in 1852, this lovely wood church replaced the original
structure built 1810-1819. The church retains its original
exterior and interior appearances. Three flanking roof gables,
structurally tied together, enclose the nave and side aisles. An
open-work barrel vault functions as a ceiling as well as a curved
structural element for the black-painted center trusses, barely visible
beyond. The handsome original lancet window serve both the main
floor and the balconies.
10. Kingshill Lutheran Church - This church was built in
1912, near the end of the Danish era, to serve the residents and
soldiers of the nearby Kingshill station. This structure, simple
yet sophisticated, has especially handsome details and proportions.
Flanking Ionic columns, east and west, frame the entry and apse. A
pediment and round-based belfry and cupola mark the entry. Though
the windows and interior details were changed in the 1970s, the church
still retains much of its original flavor and appearance.
11. St. Ann's Catholic Church - Originally built as a family
chapel in 1815 by Christopher McEvoy Jr., a prominent planter, St. Ann's
was deeded to the Catholic Church in 1897 and formally dedicated to St.
Ann in 1900. Cruciform in plan, the splayed door and window
openings are tied together on the exterior by a fillet molding that
engages window keystones. Above is a prominent cornice molding
upon which sits pediments outlined with finials matching several found
Holy Cross Anglican Church - Holy Cross represents the effort of the
Anglican community to extend its ministry to agricultural workers in the
heavily populated central plain, the site of many sugar estates and two
central factories. This 1908 structure was built of reinforced
concrete, perhaps the island's first. Pier buttresses and lancet
windows give the church a Gothic Revival influence, as do the exposed
timbered roof trusses within.
13. St. Luke's African Methodist Episcopal Church - Founded in
1920 and erected in 1933 by members of the St. Croix Labor Union at
Estate Grove Place, this church combines some pointed African Geometries
with the familiar lancet-topped window and door shapes outlined in brick
of Gothic Revival. Modern applied pier buttresses, north and
south, function as they do in other gothic revival examples such as Holy
Inscribed tombstones in St. Croix's cemeteries provide a
fascinating record of the island's diverse cultural ands social history.
The Christiansted town cemetery, established in 1749, is adjacent to St.
John's Anglican Church/ It includes a Danish section with many
prominent name. A Jewish cemetery, dating from the early
19thCentury, is nearby. The Frederiksted town cemetery is across
the street from Holy Trinity Lutheran CHurch. The cemetery at St.
Patrick's CHurch in Frederiksted contains a monument to fourteen sailors
from the W. W. W. Monongahela who perished in the tidal wave of 1867.
Other churchews, such as St. Paul's Anglican in Frederiksted and rural
Friedensfeld Moravian, also have their own cemeteries.