Some 200 volunteers take part in Statia Doet

“Evening Rest” after it was cleared by Statia Doet volunteers.

ST. EUSTATIUS–The title of the popular song “Statia on Fire” came to life Friday and Saturday as Statia Doet ignited a blaze of energy and dynamism from some 200 volunteers. One site that actually inspired the song back in 1999 was also part of this hotbed of community commitment.

St. Eustatius Monuments Foundation submitted the project to clean and clear the yard and walls of the foundations and cellar of “Evening Rest,” a former house that stood between Synagogue Path and Breedeweg, opposite the synagogue ruins and next to the Johnson Compound. It burnt down almost 20 years ago and became part of the famed song.

The yard was an eyesore right in the heart of Oranjestad, overgrown with trees, shrubs and Coralita and, therefore, an easy target for trash to be thrown into.

Additionally, it lies along the historical walking tour that tourists and visitors take through the Urban Conservation Area of Oranjestad, and constituted an embarrassment along the route.

Making this place look better, therefore, also contributes to enhancing the tourist product of St. Eustatius.

The Monuments Foundation was lucky to have Trico Supplies, Tirene Lopes, Brown’s Car Rental and Anthony Williams in addition to its own volunteers to take on this sizeable job.

Passers-by appreciated the efforts of the five volunteers under the hot sun so much that they became volunteers as well in disposing of the debris with their trucks, helping to load the trucks or making available their chainsaw and their time. In the end, a total of 11 volunteers offered their help in the project.

“A wonderful example of how infectious doing good can be,” said Monuments Director Walter Hellebrand, who was wielding a cutlass himself.

Once the foundation and cellar walls became visible again, several people asked if there were plans to rebuild the house. Hellebrand explained that, unfortunately, the lot was undivided property owned by the same owners as the Johnson Compound: heirs of H.H. Johnson – and therefore any plans to resolve the situation in the short term would be stifled.

“The possibilities of reconstructing the house are great because the house is gone and there is no restoration to be done. That means it can be recreated with modern materials, but with wood on the outside. We have the drawings and measurements of the original house, so it can be done. But then the undivided property situation has to be resolved first,” Hellebrand explained.

The volunteers received much appreciation and encouragement from passers-by who also expressed their hope that something could be done about the three bordering, abandoned properties in this location right in the heart of town.

Monuments Director Walter Hellebrand (right) with volunteers.

Source: The Daily Herald