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Did you know it is generally thought that St. Lucia did not have any colonists before about 1725, but in fact a few hardy French colonists were here before 1700, when Pere Labat reported the island deserted?
Not only did he fail to see any colonists but he completely missed the Caribs as well. Maybe he presumed the Caribs had left after St. Lucia was sold to the English in 1664, and that the French had left the island when ownership was being disputed. However, there were a few surviving buildings earlier than the mid-eighteenth century considering that St. Lucia did not have a recognized government before 1744.
About 1744, the French colonists, who were well established on the island, began to build up the estates with strong support from the French authorities. Soufriѐre, the first town laid down by command of the French king, naturally possessed some of the earliest and largest estates. Some of the more historic estate homes were found near Castries, such as the birthplace of Empress Josephine at Morne Paix Bouche.
In his 1787 map of St. Lucia, Le Fort de Latour showed a few estate houses in certain districts. This was because of the destructive hurricane of October 11, 1780, when most buildings around St. Lucia were destroyed. The French Revolution, which reached a peak in St. Lucia in 1795, caused the destruction of several estate houses throughout the island. These events would most likely explain the ruinous conditions of the historic estate houses and why so few have survived today.
Did you know like so many old estates in Soufriѐre, the Diamond Estate house dates from the mid-18th century?
Did you know the Errard Estate house in Dennery was built in 1904? It was built in wood upon a masonry foundation over a cellar and was atypical Elizabethan gable structure of two stories.
Source: Saint Lucia Historic Sites by Robert J. Devaux & Saint Lucia National Trust – 1975
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]