History

Estate Cane Garden, as evidenced by its name, was once a sugar cane plantation owned by three generations of the McEvoy Family, who were Scotch-Irish planters in what was then a Danish colony. The McEvoys also owned Estate Whim, whose unusual elliptical Great House is now open to the public by the St. Croix Landmarks Society. At both Cane Garden and Whim, there are extensive remains of the original sugar cane mills and related buildings.

Cane Garden was burned by a disastrous fire in the early 20th Century, leaving only the massive coral block walls as a shell of the original structure. It stood as a romantic ruin for at least 40 years until it was rebuilt by the Howard Wall Family of Portland, Oregon shortly after World War II. While they retained the original walls and structure of the house, there was no attempt at an historically accurate rebuilding. The Walls owned Cane Garden for nearly four decades.

Richard H. Jenrette purchased the house from the Walls’ estate in 1985 and embarked on a plan to return Cane Garden to its original look, to the extent it could be ascertained. Fred Gjessing, a Danish architect working in St. Thomas, and William Taylor, a St. Croix architect, led the effort to recreate the original. They were aided by extensive photographs of the ruins after the fire as well as other evidence they were able to gather both in St. Croix and Copenhagen. As a result, the present house is a replica incorporating what was left of the original house.

Cane Garden is located on a high hill overlooking the blue Caribbean. There are 265 acres, including a mile of beachfront land. The front lawn stretches down to the sea. Ruins of the original mill, remnants of slave quarters and other plantation buildings are scattered over the property to the west of the Great House.

The interior of Cane Garden today contains what may be the largest private collection of Island mahogany furniture made in St. Croix or other islands in the West Indies in the early 19th Century. The collection is primarily attributable to Mrs. Howard Wall, who began collecting Island mahogany furniture in the post-World War II years when it was out of fashion. Richard Jenrette has maintained and added to the collection.