The Home of Dr. William Thornton, Little Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin islands
Dr. William Thornton, the designer of the US Capitol Building, was born in Great Harbour Jost Van Dyke in 1759. In later years he lived on Little Jost Van Dyke.
The remains of the Thornton residence lie on a ridge on the Western side of the island overlooking Tortola to the south and Lost Van Dyke to the west.
The following photos illustrate the hike I took with Curtney “Ghost” Chinnery to Dr. Thornton’s home.
Ghost and I put in at the old dock that lies on Little Jost Van Dyke across Long Bay from Foxy’s Taboo. It’s a tough approach and you’ll need a shallow draft boat and some creativity to tie up here.
Once we accomplished that we hiked along the coast and picked up a trail of sorts leading to the remains of an old structure once destined to be a bar and restaurant on the western beach south of Dim Don Point. As we approached the old structure, we needed to keep alert for the numerous suckers that seemed to be just about everywhere.
From the old unfinished and crumpling, bar we bushwhacked up the hill to the ridge where we came upon the remains of the old Thornton residence.
Visit to the Home of Dr. William Thornton, Little Jost Van Dyke BVI
the following comes from some notes that I dug up last night:
Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands Notes
In 1980 there was only one vehicle on Jost Van Dyke, a Jeep. There were no paved roads, no electricity, save for a few solar panels and generators, no phone except a radio phone at customs. The ferry, The blue Atlantic, was a hand-made wooden craft capable of handling about 10 people, tops.
Electricity came to Jost Van Dyke in 1990.
My First Automobile Ride In Jost Van Dyke
Saturday, April 15, 1995
It was a beautiful evening. The moon was full, the seas were calm and the sky was clear.
We left Chocolate Hole, on St John just after sunset. The moon rose over the mountains in back of Cruz Bay as we rounded Lind Point on our way to Abe’s in Little Harbour, on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands.
Abe’s was fairly busy. Bareboaters from Germany, a woman with high heel sneakers and short shorts, a couple from Tortola with a 40 foot Hattaras and some others. Steve, Abe’s son, was tending bar.
We had a big dinner. Lobster, conch, rice and peas, corn and cole slaw.
During dinner I saw a Suzuki Jeep leave from in front of Abe’s house. It got my attention because I never had seen a vehicle on this beach before.
Later, just as we were finishing dinner, the vehicle returned. I saw the driver for the first time. It was Steve. I asked him where he got the jeep, and was it his and where he was going.
It turned out that Kendrick, one of my old friend’s Etien Chinnery’s sons, was now in the business of renting vehicles. Kendrick, who was a former customs officer and bar tender at the Sand Castle in White Harbour had also began Jost Van Dyke’s first ferry business. He had one jeep for rent, this automatic transmission Suzuki Jeep for rent for $35.00 a day. Steve had rented it for three days.
I asked Steve if he’d take us for a ride and being the nice guy that he is, he consented. We went over the mountain to Great Harbour, around the bottom in back of the beach at Great Harbour, passed Rudy’s and then along the waterfront and back to Foxy’s where there was music and dancing.
Foxy had left for the evening and Tessa was closing up the store. Ivan was playing guitar with a local trio. The bar was fairly crowded and everyone was in good spirits. I saw some of the regulars there, Godwin and Nippy and Melvin were dancing with the tourists. My friends, Etien Chinnery and Junie, Abe’s brother from Little Harbour, were over by the band watching the scene.
We were in for a treat, another first for me. Dean, one of Foxy’s sons, was going to do his famous fire dance. It was a great show. Dean was in costume and made up like an African warrior. The sound of drums from the drum machine. He danced with his fire sticks and blew fire out of his mouth like a fire breathing dragon. Then he broke up some liquor bottles in a cardboard box and placed the broken shards on the floor. He danced on the glass and then he danced holding up the biggest man in the house, a 250 pound Brit, in his arms. Dean was quite the showman and I was duly impressed.
After the Dean Spectacular we got back in our rent-a-car and drove back to Abe’s for the moonlight trip back home to St. John.
Thanks Steve. Thanks Dean. Thanks to all my very special Virgin Islands friends!
It’s been a great week spent with good friends visiting from America. On Monday we left St. John in the rain – because my friend Allan “didn’t want to waste a day” – and jumped in my trusty Carib inflatable and off we went into the squally seas headed for Jost Van Dyke.
We arrived fairly dry and making good time, cleared customs and walked up the stand to Foxy’s, who came down to the bar shortly after we got there.
There’s always something new and exciting with Foxy and this time was no different. Besides being a culture hero of the sailing world, Foxy has devoted much time, money and energy to Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, dedicated to keeping alive the island’s unique culture.
The latest project has been the building of a traditional island sloop, an educational and cultural project funded by private interests, including a $50,000 donation from country singer, Kenny Chesney.
Over the years Foxy has received numerous awards and honors. A BVI postage stamp features “Foxy’s Wooden Boat Race.” He has been made an honorary “Kentucky Colonel” and now Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has appointed Foxy to be a “Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in appreciation of his contributions to the culture and economy of the British Virgin Islands.
Sometime soon, Foxy and Tessa will fly to London and will personally receive the commendation which will be presented at Buckingham Palace by the Queen herself.
After seeing Foxy, it was off to Abe’s in Little Harbour for a lunch of stewed conch, snorkeling at Little Green Cay and at about 4:00 we tied up to the dock at Foxy’s Taboo and walked over to the Bubbly Pool.
The Bubbly Pool that day was a bit of a dissapointment. Not only did the wave action leave a lot to be desired, but the sad truth is that the Bubbly Pool is no longer a little known secret. As we walked towards the pool, we passed by dozens of people coming from there. Upon arrival, there were still quite a few more and it wasn’t even a good day. Oh well, as the philosopher, Foxy Callwood, so often says, “such is life.”
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise