The lovely pedimented colonial building on the Basseterre waterfront is the Old Treasury Building, dating from 1894. It now houses the National Museum, run by the St Christopher National Trust, and offering an overview of the culture and heritage of St Kitts and Nevis. The Treasury Building was once also known as the gateway to the island because its archway was the point of entry from the pier for passengers arriving by ship. The old pier has long since been replaced by an apron from which you can see Port Zante and the new cruise-ship dock, which has a lively craft market. Lady Haynes-Smith laid the foundation stone for the Treasury Building in 1894. The building, “a two-story stone structure … is stylistically Georgian Architecture, adapted to the Caribbean, and axially related to Fort Street and the former Treasury Pier, which was the historic gateway to the island by way of the central arch.” (St. Christopher Heritage Society, 2000 p.2). After Emancipation and Apprenticeship in 1838, importing indentured labor from Madeira, Portugal temporarily solved the island’s labor shortage problems. Planters at that time had to deposit in the Treasury an amount to cover the cost of a return fare for each laborer they imported. Many Portuguese did not return to their homeland after their indentureship was up. In the 1890’s, when it was obvious that there was a need for a new Treasury, the planters donated the unused passage monies to government for its construction. A contracting firm from Barbados constructed the building using local stone. On completion of the building several government departments, including the Administrator’s Office, were moved from the Court House to the Treasury Building.
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