The Anglican Cathedral of St. John The Divine is the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba (NECA). This ‘Church within a Church’ is the third house of worship that has been erected on that site. The third structure (the existing one) is an example of neo-Baroque architecture.
The first Church was a wooden building built in 1684 and was described as being, “totally destitute of beauty and comfort.” It would fall into disrepair and be replaced by a stone building in 1725. This building was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1843 and the structure that we see today was opened for worship on 10th October 1847 and consecrated as a Cathedral on 25th July 1848.
Our ancestors no doubt grew tired of the hurricane threats to the first church, the wooden one, and, determined to not have to go through another earthquake calam-ity like they did with the second one, endeavoured to build a hurricane and earth-quake resistant structure. Consequently the Cathedral consists of an external stone structure that houses a wooden one within. Having survived an earthquake registering in excess of 7 on the Richter scale in the 70s and category 4 hurricanes in the 90s, the design appears to have been successful. However the cathedral now faces its greatest enemy – time. As our brothers and sisters in St. Croix said about the restoration of their church also called St. John, “Time neither respects persons or things. None–not even imposing buildings and monuments–can withstand the passage of time unscathed without at least some help.” (http://stjcrestoration.com/default.aspx)
The restoration of old buildings is a costly and technically challenging endeavour that is rife with uncertainty. The immediate and obvious repairs needed at the Cathedral must be understood in the context that this is what is currently visible and assessable. When restoration works commence, it should come as no surprise that there may be other works, just as challenging and costly and perhaps of greater importance and urgency, which will need to be addressed.
Currently we have divided the works into four phases.
Phase one – Roof, aisles and pews
Phase two – Interior walls, exterior walls and electrical works
Phase three – Toilets, stairs and doors
Phase four – Churchyard and surrounding walls.