Thursday, January 17, 2002, The Daily News
Christiansted's fascinating history
Oas- DaLis. an ecologist liver on
St. Cii. He is a DAil News ceumribut-
This weekend the St. Croix Hiking
Assiocialion will be touring historic
Christiansted town. Hiking not only
includes out in the bush. but also
touring our historic towns.
It was Nov. 16.1733. when he direc.
trasofh Danish West IndiandGuinea
Co. instructed Frederik Moth. the irst
goveMnor of St. Croix tO find a suitable
site to establish a fon and town in the
newly purchased colony. This town was
to he called Chnstiansted.
The town was to be suhbdwided into
regular building lots and the lots were to
he sold with the stipulatinn that buyers
were to build im their lots within live
years from the purchase dlail. As Moth
arrived on St. Croix from St Thomas. he
explored the island and chose te fIorncr
French village called Bassin on the
northenas c.st SL. Croix as the site lor
He derived themrea to the company
directors as large enough to conanin a
town the size of Copenhagen He also
promised the directors that Christinnstcd
would he well laid out with streets as
straight as those in Chlritiania. no1w
Oslo. Norway Also he mentioned that
ih hbest buhilings would he built in the
vicinity ofr thc fort. while the poorer
class buildings would be located on the
outskirts orthc town.
During his administration as govcmor
ofSt. Cruix from 1734 to 1736 and then
as governor of the Danish West Indies,
from 1736 to 1744. Moth did hisbee to
fidfl his promises to the company direct.
tors. The first colonists arrived in
Christiansted from St. Thomas on
Sept. l, 1734. They immediately stan-.
ed work on the construction of an
earthwork, which was later convened
into Fort Christianvacm.
Moth used he fort as the focal point to
lay out the streets ofthe town. On May
2, 1735. he sported back to the compa-
ny directors in Copenhagen explaining
to them that he had laid ou the first sre
in the town with a width of 40 feet.
According to historians, this street must
have been Strand Street since Moth
mcttioned granting several lots measur-
ing 100 feet along the street and 150 feet
deep to the sea.
e also mentioned other lots to he
gnrntcd with only 100 feet deep. le fur-
ther stated that the frontage along the
street would be according to the needs
and desires of individual buyers. Moth
When Moth became
governor of the Danish
West Indies, he moved
his headquarters to
Charlotte Amalia, St.
Thomas. However, this
didn't stop him from
then set aside a"n around the Iot for
the construction of the customhouse.
company residences, and warehouses
on the waterfront of Christianstcd.
When Moth became governor of the
Danish West Indies, he moved his head-
quartesto Charlotte Amalia. St. Thomas.
However, this didn't stop him from
In the first decade of the town's exis-
tence, it developed slowly because the
first setlrs were planters who were too
busy clearing land for cultivation. In
1742 there were about 20 inhabitants
in the town.
The slow growth of the town was also
due to the high prices for building lots as
compared to prices for plantations. A
building code was also established for
the town. The book "The Towns" by
Herbert Olsen. Hans Henrik Engrqvist,
Peter Bredsdorff. Lric Pettersson and
Ok Svensson mentioned the codes in
detail of how the town should be
These codes are as follows:
Owners were to obtain deeds to their
lots within 14 days or forfeit them: good
houses of either masonry or wood with
shingled roofs were to be built fawing the
street within three monsl and all how.-
es built ofwood within town limits were
to be built on footings or foundations.
except on Strand Streetwhere they might
be built on pilings.
No house was to be built without con.
suiting the government's surveyor iii
order to ensure that the houses were built
in a stmight line and that a passage 3 feet
to4 liel wide was kept between houses."
Thi code continued:
No f .' colored person was to live in
any other pan ol'toi i other lhan iluin
section laidout for them by the surveyor,
and no rIe colored person was to he
granted a building lot larger thin 30 feet
by 30 feet. Slaves were forbidden to live
among the free colored population.
Thatched roofs were prohibited within
the town limits. mand houses already cov-
cnrl with diri naternal wen: it be shin-
gled within three ionthlls. The poorer
class of people might connnue to thatch
the roots of their houses with straw hii
only on the western outskirts and water-
fiont ofthe town.
The importance of the building code
was to control the development of the
town as it continued to grow. In 1749,
the final step in developing Christianstel
in an orderly fashion was to establish a
public cemetery on the western outskirts
of the town. Burials csewhcre within the
town wern prohibited except within the
walls of churches in the town,
In 1755 the town witnessed a signifi-
cant growth in population because the
capital of the Danish West Indies was
transferred again from Charlotte Anmatlia
Frederik Moth irly deserves the title
of the founder of Christiansted. Today.
Christiansted's historic town is one of
the best in the world for its size.