(Header photo courtesy of Christine Garner)

St. Maarten’s binational, Indian, colonial and post-colonial times provided for a wide array of landmarks one can visit during a stay. Visit the Heritage Museum in Philipsburg and the Fruits de Mer museum near Orient Bay for an overview and suggestions for further exploration.

For a short introduction of St. Maarten’s unique history, see here. Some specific monuments you can visit to learn more about St. Maarten’s past.

ALEC THE BUTCHER MONUMENT –  Alec “the Butcher” Richardson, had over 40 children and was known for farming and selling fresh meat. As a successful farmer, Alec was one of the first people on island to own a car.

BELVEDERE PLANTATION – The Belvedere plantation consists of a main house still occupied and a series of ruins. Most of the ruins lie west of the main house. The complex survived the post-slavery period and the modern period. It is unknown when the plantation was built.

COMMANDER RINKS HOME – Frontstreet 88 is the former house of Commander Rink. It was probably built between 1720-1780. Commander Rink was also the owner of a plantation called ‘Retreat’ in the Cul-de-Sac valley. 

CONCORDIA MONUMENT – In 1948, a monument was erected to remember the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Concordia, in which the French and Dutch divided the island into its current binational status. Where else would the monument be, except for exactly on the border between both, from Philipsburg to Marigot? The monument is often depicted as symbol of binational unity between the two parts of the island. The monument was often the scene of government representatives meeting at St Martin’s Day (11 th of November), the day Columbus discovered St Maarten.

As a symbol of island unity, the monument is depicted in the
national emblem of Dutch side St Maarten, together with the national symbols of the Brown Pelican, the Courthouse and the Sage Flower.

If the jade green hills around Concordia Monument appeal, you might want to stretch your legs your legs and enjoy them to the fullest via EPIC‘s Fleming property hiking trail!

THE CONVENT, FRONTSTREET 22/24 – The Dominicanessen Nuns built the Convent in 1954. These Dutch nuns came to Sint Maarten in 1890 and started a school and a hospital across the street.

Nowadays, the top of the convent is in use as the Permanent Representation office or “Permanente Vertegenwoordiging”, of the European Netherlands in St Maarten.

CORNER HOUSE – This house, on the corner of Backstreet 93 and Hotelsteeg, belongs to the category ‘Great Houses’. The house was built around 1880. 

THE COURTHOUSE, FRONTSTREET 48 – Together with the world renowned temples of Angkor Vat of Cambodia, the Courthouse is one of the few buildings in the world to be included in a national flag – in the St Maarten flag you find a miniature picture of the courthouse.

The Courthouse was built in 1793. The plans were drawn by John Handleigh by order of commander Rink. During the last renovation in 1966 the Courthouse obtained its present form. This building houses the court of Sint Maarten.

CUL-DE-SAC GRAVEYARD – The Cul-de-Sac graveyard is the site of one of the early settlements of the Dutch pioneers. What remains of the settlement are the foundations of the Dutch Protestant Church and the ruins of a house and oven located next to the church. In the graveyard, you will find more graves of prominent people from Sint Maarten’s past.

EBENEZER PLANTATION – The ruins of the Ebenezer plantation are preserved as a historical monument in the middle of the multitude of modern buildings of the Ebenezer district. Historical documents are not available, but an archeologist survey has shown that the complex is of an early 19th-century date.

EMILIO WILSON PARK – Named after the owner, this plantation is located opposite Mary’s Fancy. John Philips and the Van Romondt family at a point also owned the house in time. From the road, you will see some green rooftops surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers. See for more information on Emilio Wilson Park.

FREEDOM FIGHTER MONUMENT – The Freedom Fighter Monument is dedicated to those who fought for emancipation and freedom. Every year for emancipation day there is a commemorative wreath-laying ceremony at this monument.   

FRENCH CARIBBEAN STYLE HOUSE – Built around 1900 in the French Caribbean style, the house of Backstreet 96 cannot be compared with any other in town. The building has been painted green and white. The veranda on the first floor has an iron, balustrade decorated with flowers and along the roof there is gingerbread fretwork. 

FORT AMSTERDAM – The fort located on the peninsula between Great Bay and Little Bay was built in 1631 by the Dutch. It was their first Fort in the Caribbean named after the Chamber of Amsterdam. It overlooks both Philipsburg and the first Dutch settlement on island, Little Bay. The fort was besieged by amongst others Peter Stuyvesant, trying to retake the fort from the Spanish.

FORT WILLIAM 1 – Fort William was built in 1801 by the British as Fort Trigge, presumably named after the person ordering its construction. Expanded reach of the newest types of cannons allowed the fort to be placed higher up the hill compared to nearby , whilst still controlling and with its strategic supplies and natural harbor.

Revived as “Fort Willem”, named after the Dutch king, it functioned until 1846. After this, the fortress deteriorated and is now predominantly a target for experienced . Only some walls and part of a watchtower remain around a modern television tower.

If you would like to visit the scarce remains of this once towering bulwark, follow EPIC’s special Fort William Hiking Trail, unique views over Little Bay and Great Bay guaranteed!

GUAVABERRY, FRONTSTREET 8 – The Guavaberry factory shop was built in the 1830s. At first it was a house that was eventually turned into a restaurant. Nowadays, it houses the Guavaberry Emporium, center of a national liquor based on a local fruit.

HARBOR LIGHT, BACKSTREET 30 – The building belongs to the category ‘Great Houses’. Probably built around 1850, but some say even older.

LALIE MONUMENT – The lady facing to the right is known as Lalie. She was known for providing fresh bread and pastries to those in need. She also provided shelter during disasters, such as, hurricanes. The juvenile detention facility of Sint Maarten was named The Miss Lalie Center in honors of the late Miss Lalie.

L’ESCARGOT – This house at Frontstreet 84, painted in the red, white, and blue colors of the Dutch and French flags was one of the most famous restaurants of the island.

MADAME ESTATE – This plantation is one of the oldest ones on the island. Before the sugar trade, grapes were grown on the plantation that was sold to rich merchants on Sint Eustatius. Eventually they evolved to making sugar 1725 and in 1870 sold the building to the salt company which they used as their headquarters.

MARY’S FANCY – Formerly, Mary’s Fancy was a hotel but the small bungalows are now rented out as apartments. As with Madame Estate, grapes were once grown on the land of this plantation. When the sugar industry began on the island, the plantation made large investments to build a sugar factory.

METHODIST CHURCH COMPLEX, FRONTSTREET 80 – Here you will find the Methodist Church complex consisting of three buildings of historical and architectural interest.

First the church that was originally built in 1851. ‘The Manse’ (or minister’s house) is not a replica of the former manse pulled down in 1931 although it was built on the same spot.

This was done by Lionel Bernard Scott, an important historic figure for both St Maarten and the kingdom of the Netherlands.

PASANGGRAHAN – The ‘Pasanggrahan’, Royal Guest House, at Frontstreet 15 is the oldest hotel in town that is still functioning in the center of Philipsburg. It was built in 1904 as the government guesthouse – “Pasanggrahan” is Indonesian for “guesthouse” – it was common throughout the overseas parts of the Dutch kingdom to have these types of lodgings for important guests. Former queen Juliana stayed here during her first visit to the Island. 

ONE-TÉTÉ LOHKAY MONUMENT – This girl stands for defiance against injustice, for rising up in the face of tyranny and oppression. One-Tété Lohkay is one of the island’s remarkable legends. She has been called a female freedom fighter in St. Maarten’s days of slavery and can be considered an example of rising up against oppression. 

ORANJE SCHOOL – The Oranje School at Frontstreet 88 was originally built as a church in 1738. When the English took over the church was demolished and all that was left were the foundations. In 1938 the building became a Government School.

SALT FACTORY RUINS – A Dutch engineer named Slotemakers and an Italian named Ademante built the salt factory in 1862. It was an experimental project to make salt in the rainy season. All that is left of the factory are the substructures and wall fragments.

SALT PICKER MONUMENT – The first settlers of the island named the island, “Soualiga” which translates to the “Land of Salt.” In honor of the salt industry and the workers the government of St Maarten erected this group of statues and called it the “Salt Pickers.”

SALT WAREHOUSE – Hendrikstreet 4 used to be a home and is now a shop. The original shape of the house, however, has been well preserved. There is a warehouse to the left of the house where salt was stored that is much older than the house, dating back to the early 18th century.

TATA THE BUS DRIVER MONUMENT – Tata was a well-known bus driver who took generations of St. Maarten’s children to school, making sure they were well behaved. It is important for folk heroes to be memorialized in public monuments.

THE VINEYARD BUILDING – The area was named after the estate, which probably got its name from the grapes that were cultivated around the house.

The estate house has a twin on Martha’s Vineyard USA, off the coast of Massachusetts. In 1871, the van Romondt family imported the house from Baltimore, Maryland USA. It was delivered by schooner as a pre-cut/pre-fab building package to our island. The rectangular shaped house consists of two stories, topped by a saddle roof. The front facade is on the short side. A staircase from the garden leads the visitors to the first floor where the living quarters are placed. The doors and the sash windows are fitted with wooden shutters. Both of the side facades are covered with white shingles, while the front facade has horizontal weather boarding and a decoration of gingerbread fretwork lining the roof, rail and veranda. In the middle of the gable is a gold coloured star, the meaning of, other than decorative, is not known. The bottom floor is used for storage, has a large kitchen and several utility rooms.

As of 1938 the van Romondt family sold the estate to Mrs. Coralie Buncamper. After her death it went to Mrs. Bernadette Bucamper who, like the new family members that inherited it from her after her passing, keep it in pristine shape.

THE WHITE HOUSE – The ‘Great House’ of Frontstreet 122, due to its color and size, is often called ‘The White House’. The house was built in 1904 and has been well maintained. 

UNION FARM – The union farm plantation was probably built around 1680 and in 1924 it was renovated. It is one of the best-conserved buildings on the island. 

THE BRICK BUILDING – The Brick Building is one of the oldest buildings on island. It was owned by Ms Louisan Augusta Illidge, an affluent woman. She provided shelter for the first methodist preacher coming to St Maarten in 1819 , mr Parson Hodge, providing the base for the expansion of the Methodist church on St Maarten. Ms Illidge became known as “the mother of methodism”.

Later, her house became a temporary military holdout as the European Netherlands were conquered in May 1940, and the French not as yet. The French army used the building as barracks until European France also was overrun by German forces.

ROLANDUS CANAL – The Rolanduskanaal is one of the two waterways protecting St Maarten’s main source of income, salt, from mixing with sweet water coming from the hills. The Rolandus canal was dug around 1870. Visit the nearby heritage museum for more information!

FORT LOUIS – Located in Marigot, Fort Saint Louis was built in 1789 under Saint-Martin’s and Saint-Bartehelemy governor Jeans Sebastien Durat. The goal of this fort was to defend from British and Dutch pirates the settlement and the warehouses of Marigot port where the harvested products (rum, salt, coffee and sugarcane) were stored. Nowadays, it is abandoned but you can enjoy a beautiful 360 view.

PASTURE PIECE – A designated monument built in the early 1900s, newly renovated for special events and unique stays.

This home was once the residence of the Richardson family, with close ties to the Van Romondt family, which was the dominant family on Sint Maarten from about 1820 until shortly after World War II.

Pasture Piece formed part of the Retreat Estate Plantation, which was the home of Dr. Willem Hendrik Rink, Commander and Governor of the island from 1790-1806; he also founded the Courthouse in Philipsburg during his tenure.

A family treasure, Pasture Piece is restored and boasts a family museum as well as grand lush garden, perfect for events.

Some specific monuments you can visit to learn more about St. Maarten’s past.

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