Charlestown will soon advance from the tentative list to the nomination list as a UNESCO world heritage site.
A committee formed by the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) met for the first time on Friday, Jan. 20 to discuss the next steps toward making Charlestown an official nominee. Evelyn Henville, Executive Chairperson of the committee, told The Observer that the nomination of Charlestown has been kept alive with UNESCO, even though Charlestown was placed on the tentative list back in 1998.
The locations of historical significance are numerous in Charlestown, and Ms. Henville highlighted which locations will hopefully be included.
“We’re looking at the city of Charlestown ranging from the African cemetery down at Low Street all the way to Fort Charles, taking in Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace and the slave market location. We’re looking at including our Jewish cemetery, out Bath Hotel and Stream, and Fort Charles. We also certainly want to look at the possibility of adding the Methodist Church which is one of the first historical locations in Charlestown and the Anglican Churchm” she said.
The nomination of Charlestown is no small feat and not a quick process, she added.
“It can take two and a half years to make a successful application because of the research we have to do even though we already have lots of research. We need more research to make sure our research is correct and meets the two main criteria’s of the nomination which are authenticity and universal value. Then in submitting it to UNESCO, the committee can take eight months or more to review. It’s the review process that takes up a lot of time,” she said.
Regarding universal value, there are currently two locations being considered — the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton (Nevisian born Founding Father of the US) and Fort Charles (which was designated to be opened by the King of England in a series of forts across the Caribbean). If Charlestown is successful in becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is expected to impact tourism in Nevis and the island as a whole, Henville said.
“We will certainly have to be prepared for a whole different Nevis since economically it’s going to bounce out of the present realm. Tourism is going to expand tremendously and I hope we are going to be prepared because it’s going to take down to the man on the street to be ready for this. It’s where you’re now putting Nevis in the same sentence as the Wall of China, the Pitons of St. Lucia and the Taj Mahal,” she declared.
“We have our own Brimstone Hill as a World Heritage Site. When you see the cruise ships on St. Kitts, you see the tour buses loading up to go to Brimstone Hill and Brimstone Hill is self sufficient and it is a major employer. So we have to consider those. It’s exactly that and more that will happen to Nevis.”
Charlestown can be compared with the Vatican City for number of heritage sites per capita and will become protected under the Geneva Convention should the application be successful. This means that it will become protected against any destruction or misuse even in times of war when destruction occurs.
To make the application successful, the NIA committee must be an international committee and is partnering with other sources including architects, conservationists, real estate personnel, authors, and organizations that educate about Alexander Hamilton across the United States.