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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The "A Pineapple Welcomes You!" Story

Inlaid stone map standing in front of Sint
Maarten's iconic Courthouse.  I am
standing on the Captain Hodge Wharf.
It was an ordinary day.  Walking west along Philipsburg's waterfront boardwalk and came upon a beautiful, circular inlaid stone map of the island.  Have taken photos of it before, but never tire of photographing the iconic map in the center of the boardwalk.  As I stood near the small pier taking the photo, there in the background of my photograph stood the pillar of town's Front Street. the Sint Maarten Courthouse.  I have visited the interior of the building a few times, but find the exterior to be the most beautiful feature of the building.  The historic courthouse was built in 1793 and has received several renovations over it's lifetime.  The building was originally the home of Scottish Commander of the Dutch Navy, John Phillips, the town's founder.  In it's past the building served as the town's jail, fire station and post office.  One of my favorite parts of the iconic building is the bell tower which houses a 25 bell carillon.  On the peak of the cupola-topped building is the international symbol of welcome, the Pineapple.  
This photo is dated 1898 and is the oldest photograph
I found that illustrates what is now the Courthouse.
In 1996 that pineapple was blown away by a storm, but a replace- ment was crafted by Australian master shipwright Frank Gonsalves and placed once again on top to welcome visitors to the city of Philipsburg.  The town's clock is located below a shuttered window on the cupola and the coat of arms of Sint Maarten is located below the clock.  
A celebration is taking place in front
of this early photo.  Not sure if it was
the Courthouse at the time.
The coat of arms features a shield with a rising sun, brown pelican which is the national bird, the Courthouse, the Border Monument, an Orange sage which is the national flower and the Countries motto: Semper Pro Grediens - Always Progressing.  Sint Maarten was at one time part of the Netherlands Antilles, but as of 2010 is an independent country that issues its own stamps and currency.  Directly to the north, where I stood to take my photo, is the Captain Hodge Wharf which now houses as one of its tenants, the local Police Department.  Over the years I have taken many photos of the Courthouse, but have also found many older photographs as well as postcards that display the likeness of the Courthouse.  You may enjoy viewing a few of the older photographs so you can compare the renovations that have taken place throughout the history of Philipsburg's Courthouse.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Taken from the Wharf.  Fishing boats can be seen in the foreground.
Another photograph taken from the Capt. Hodge Wharf.
A cannon can be seen in the foreground with the Courthouse in the background.
A post card that tells you it is the Town Square and Town Hall.
A black and white photo showing an old car passing the Courthouse.  The car belonged to a Mr. Cannegieter, whose son Diederick now owns the liquor store to the left of the Courthouse.  The father used the car as a taxi as well as to transport children to and from school.  Carol and I have become friends with Diederick and his wife Barbara who live in the hills to the northwest of Philipsburg.
"You Are Now On The Friendly Island, Enjoy Yourself says the sign on the left in this postcard.
Photo I recently took showing a close view of the Courthouse.  In this photo you can see the pineapple on the top of the roof.
Another photo I took of the Courthouse showing the size of the structure.


  1. Hi Larry It was great to visit with you and Carol. Hope you both are feeling better and enjoyed your trip..
    FYI, the old car passing the courthouse belonged to Diederick's father. Besides taking the family for Sunday drives, he also used the car as a taxi and to transport children to and from school.

  2. Barbara, I have made the corrections to the photo's caption. Neat to have something to tie the photo to current day. Thanks for the info. Larry

  3. Is there a date on the postcard with the all blue sky and the Friendly Island sign, cos my mother painted this scene and the sign is in her picture. I was wondering when she painted it. Her picture is identical to that postcard.

  4. Dear Holly, I saw a similar postcard in the small museum that is directly off Front Street in downtown Philipsburg, but the postcard pictured in my story was one that I found online. My wife and I plan to return to Sint Maarten in the fall and I will try to stop once again and see if I can find a date on the postcard. I may be able to ask someone at the museum about your mother if you would care to give me her name. Thanks for reading my story. LDub