History and museums
Fort Christian is a Dano-Norwegian-built fort in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Built 1672-1680, early in the first successful colonial establishment on the island, the fort served as critical point of defense and government during entire period of Dano-Norwegian, and later Danish, administration, which ended in 1917 with the sale of the islands to the United States. It currently holds the St. Thomas Museum, which holds artifacts and art of the Dano-Norwegian period. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1977.
Fort Christian is located in central Charlotte Amalie, now separated from its harbor by Veterans Drive. The historical significance of its placement is obscured by the fact that it is now surrounded on its eastern and western flanks by made land; it originally occupied a narrow peninsula that jutted south into the harbor. The fort was a basically square structure with stone curtain walls and diamond-shaped stone bastions at the corners. The north, east, and west sides at one time were further augmented by ravelins, and there was originally a circular stone tower in the center of the fort. Of these structures, only three of the curtain walls and the four bastions remain, along with some living quarters built along the surviving curtain walls. The central tower was torn down in the 19th century, replaced by the present Gothic Revival structure.
The first attempt by the Dano-Norwegians to settle Saint Thomas took place in 1665, and failed in part because the colonists were caught between the actors of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, who raided them for supplies. Governor Jørgen Iversen Dyppel led the second expeditionary force from Denmark-Norway to St. Thomas, where he arrived on 25 May 1672; there, he initiated construction of Fort Christian, named after King Christian V. In the 18th century, the fort was expanded and in 1874 a new entrance with a Victorian Clock tower was added. As the oldest standing structure in the U.S. Virgin Islands, this fort has served as a town center, a government building, and a jail.