x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sweet life on a Caribbean estate

The Life: A former sugar plantation estate is for sale for US$2.25 million in the US Virgin Islands.

The Fortuna Mill Estate on St Thomas Island in the US Virgin Islands. Courtesy Christie's
The Fortuna Mill Estate on St Thomas Island in the US Virgin Islands. Courtesy Christie's

Out in the Atlantic Ocean as dots on a map, the Virgin Islands stand out as a haven of marine life and ecological reserve, yet they are far from immune to commercial traffic.

Located between the Caribbean islands and the mainland United States, the archipelago has known sugar plantations in the 17th century and tourism in the 21st century as its major industries.

A sugar plantation estate set amid the lush tropical greenery of the archipelago's St Thomas island is for sale with an asking price of US$2.25 million (Dh8.2m). The Fortuna Mill Estate dates to 1675, according to the Christie's International Real Estate, website where it is listed.

The three-acre estate sits atop a 290-metre peak and offers a 360-degree view of the island.

One of three major islands in the archipelago, St Thomas is frequently visited by cruise ships. The other big islands are St John and St Croix.

The estate was the inspiration for Eleanor Heckert's 1968 novel Muscovado, the cover page of which proclaims the book to be: "More explosive than Mandingo! More brutal than Slave!"

Heckert owned Gramboko Hotel on the island, according to The Virgin Islands Daily News of April 9, 1968. She had resided in St Thomas for 15 years by that time.

The property's next literary connection was more upmarket, as it "became the tropical hideaway of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Patrick, and his many Hollywood friends", according to the Christie's website.

Patrick had won the Pulitzer in 1954 for The Teahouse of the August Moon, the story of a well-meaning American abroad - although in Japan and not the Caribbean. The play was turned into a movie starring Marlon Brando.

Patrick retired to the Virgin Islands in 1971, according to Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper. He died of his own hand in 1995 in Florida.

Pictures of the Fortuna Mill Estate on the Christie's website show lots of old stone walls with blue shutters on manicured grounds with hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani plants as well as palm trees.

 

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