Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Foreboding Interview: Dr. Elizabeth Rezende on Hill Street

A few weeks ago I did an interview with Dr. Elizabeth Rezende. She is an expert on Free Gut and wrote her dissertation on the history of the area. She suggested that we do the interview in front of a house on Hill Street near "London Bridge". It is a row house and fairly well maintained. That day we had issues with our equipment. One of the cameras kept stopping, but we were able to get it working again and did a fantastic interview. Dr. Rezende, or Betsy as she is most favorably known, is a wealth of knowledge and had so many stories to tell. One of the stories that stood out was about a woman who was for all intents and purposes, a pimp. She would groom young girls to be a "housekeeper' for Danes and would take the children of those relationships and groom them as well in an ever efficient cycle. But later that day I got a call from Rashad, our cameraman, to say the footage was lost. The memory card wasn't reading! Darn! We still had footage from another camera and good audio, but may likely have to do the interview again. However, it will have to be in another location.  Why? Because the building we did the interview in front of burnt down last week. Why? Because a vagrant had gotten in to the abandoned house next door and in using candles burnt the building. So the lovely woman, Ms. Sutton, whom we had to ask permission to film on her front stoop has lost her home of over forty years.  I once saw a picture of the inside of her house. The photographer Ted Davis had taken this amazing photograph of the interior of her home while she was conducting piano lessons. There was so much detail in that picture, you felt as if you were transported into another world. And now it's gone.

I have recently been advocating for new bill, the Antiquities and Historic Preservation Bill 29-0358. Some of the concerns of the bill are that it has a mechanism that could possibly lead to local people losing their properties if they do not fix or maintain them.  What I don't think people get is that if you just leave your building to the elements and the vagrants, you will lose your property anyway! It will rot, crumble, be burnt, scavenged, and deteriorate to such a condition that even if you wanted to sell you would not get much money for it, so then what was the point in trying to hold onto it?  When children are neglected by their parents because they are unable to care for them properly, no matter the reason, the children are put in foster care. Maybe that's what needs to happen to these buildings. But I hope that Ms. Sutton and what happened to her will convince our legislators that the status quo is not an option.

For those who are moved by Ms. Marjorie Sutton's story here are the details to help. St. Croix attorney Joel Holt has set up an escrow account so donations can be made. You can donate via PayPal by clicking on this link:

OR, Checks can be made to: Joel H. Holt Esquire P.C. Trust Account, and put ‘Marjorie’ on the memo line.  Checks can be mailed to c/o D&D Studio, 55 Company St. C'sted, VI 00820. All funds will go to Marjorie Sutton.


  1. Do you know how Ms. Sutton has held up in the past year? Has she been able to get back in her house?

  2. I am not exactly sure about the current status of Mrs. Sutton. I believe she went to live with a friend or relative. I was actually at the house yesterday re-filming this interview with Dr. Rezende so we talked about her a bit. The house seemed to be in a worse state, as if there might have been another fire.