by Frandelle Gerard
Frederiksted is arguably the most remarkable town in the Virgin Islands. Known to many for its deep water harbor and gingerbread houses, the town is filled with historical buildings dating back to 1753 when the town was established by the Danish Government. Frederiksted is also the place where freedom and insurrection were the catalyst for change in the social and economic structure of the island. Today, Freedom City is alive with activity. On a cruise ship day, the vendors line the streets, the taxi buses fill in where there are no vendors and visitors stream down Strand Street, through Budhoe Park and out to visit the historic, cultural and natural attractions on the island. But, a special group stands at the statue of the Freedom Fighter in front of the Customs House being regaled by a CHANT Tour Guide! Clear the road, all you clear the road, Clear the road, let the slave them pass, We a go for a-we freedom - from a famous caris, dates to 1848, and documents the emancipation of the slaves.
Imagine walking the streets of this historic town being led by a guide who grew up in the town when there were only a handful of cars and everyone walked to work, school or church greeting each other as they passed by. As Miss Asta leads the group through the Frederiksted Fort, the oldest building in the town, she relays her memories of when the Fort was the police station and the jail, "chil, leh me tell you! If you were bad, muda would tretin to tek you to de Fort for de nite! All de childrendem would behave after that." Miss Asta Williams is a celebrated story teller who intrigues the listener with Crucian folklore and historical facts.
Tours begin on the waterfront adjacent to the pier and wind their way through the wide avenues of the town, from Strand Street to Customs House Street to Fort and Budhoe Park, where freedom was won by the enslaved people of the island. Here, your guide will tell you about the heroes and she-roes of the slave rebellion of 1748 and the great fireburn of 1778. The tour continues to Market Street and Prince Street where the Old Danish School and St. Patrick's Church stand. Then we meander up the hill by the Moravian Church, to the Frederiksted Cemetery, to the Lutheran Church built in 1776, and down the hill to St. Paul's Anglican Church.
Guides will highlight the important architectural and design elements of the historic buildings which reflect the Danish Colonial and African influences of the builders, history of the families who own and occupy the buildings and their historic uses.
The final stop is at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts where guests are able to view the collection and browse the Museum Gift Store. CHANT's guides are eager to have you join them on this historical and entertaining walk of the town of Frederiksted.