Partnering with the Nature Conservancy, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s HOPE Crew will embark on a two-week masonry training at Estate Little Princess St. Croix, beginning April 19, according to a release from the organizers. The 25-acre Danish colonial estate in that part of the island was reportedly founded in the mid-1700s as a sugar plantation and rum distillery. In addition to the extensive outbuildings, two grand house remnants remain and what once served as a hospital. The land was donated to the Nature Conservancy in the 1970s to serve as a nature preserve. The preservation of the buildings has been in their care ever since.
The HOPE Crew program, created in 2014, is an acronym for Hands-On Preservation Experience. The program was developed to bring preservation and preservation trades to a younger more diverse audience. In partnership with CHANT’s (Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism) Invisible Heritage pre-apprenticeship program, HOPE Crew will focus on training five local youth in masonry techniques, specifically repointing and repair methods, under the guidance of trades expert David Gibney.
“CHANT’s Building Arts Institute is designed to empower the participants in our programs to become experts in their field and to fill the gap in employment created by the loss of the traditional building arts skills,” said Frandelle Girard, executive director of CHANT. “Many of the master artisans in woodworking, blacksmithing and masonry are aging and we face the death of these important crafts without aggressive intervention. CHANT trainees will not only become skilled artisanal craftspersons, they will also be stewards of our heritage and culture, and their work will stand as a symbol of the rebirth of artisanal trades that are threatened.”
“Although HOPE Crew is a national program, the heart of the initiative is to empower and train the local workforce in preservation trades skills so they can work on historically and culturally important sites in their own community,” said Milan Jordan, director of HOPE Crew at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in the release.
HOPE Crews continue to preserve historic sites that exemplify the breadth and depth of America’s past. From iconic civil rights monuments and Native American sacred sites to centuries-old cemeteries, battlefields, and nature preserves such as Estate Little Princess, HOPE Crew offers enriching and tangible opportunities to connect us all to the past.