The first known home built on the land where Las Piedras sits was called "Casa la Chata". Built for Edwin Montero and Eva Hernandez over a period of three years, it was finished in 1976. The unique home was sold to Christian and Annie Flanders in 1984. (Christian was a sculptor and Annie was the founder and longtime editor of 'Details' magazine). When Hurricane Hugo hit the island of Vieques 5 years later, the home was completely destroyed. This tragedy presented an excellent artistic opportunity for Christian to design and build a striking modern villa which could both capitalize on its incomparable ocean location and be "hurricane-proof". Using reinforced concrete, the foundation of Las Piedras is anchored into and around its namesake rocks. Throughout the house these volcanic pieces peep in and out of view in fun and sometimes unexpected ways (check out the tiled blue bathroom). Las Piedras has stood testament to the success of Flander's vision withstanding Hurricanes Marilyn in 1995, George in 1998, and Maria in 2017.
(Many thanks to Catherine Vazquez for forwarding the painting of her grandfather's house)
Known as Bieke to the Taínos, Crab Island to the English, and Isla Nena to its residents, Vieques has a vast and unforgettable history. The following timeline is a partial list of important events that have shaped the island's evolving narrative:
Archeological findings in Puerto Ferro date back to Pre-Arawak period.
Taino culture abounds in Esperanza.
Columbus lands on the south side of Borinquen (now Puerto Rico) and claims it for Spain.
Ponce de León initiates colonization of Puerto Rico.
Taíno Chiefs Yaureibo and Cacimar from Bieke fight Spanish forces on the east side of Puerto Rico.
British settlers from Anguilla invade Vieques. Danish forces from St. Thomas drive invaders away.
Scottish settlers from Nevis, Anguilla and Tortola invade Vieques. Spanish forces drive invaders away.
British settlers from Anguilla come to Vieques to establish a colony on two different occasions. Both times Spanish forces drive invaders away.
The Spanish colonization of Vieques begins.
Royal Decree of Graces allows other Europeans who swear loyalty to the Spanish Crown to remain in Puerto Rico. French settlers develop Vieques’ agrarian economy.
Simón Bolivar, Latin America’s Great Liberator, comes to Vieques.
The Spanish commence construction of a town,eventually called Punta Mulas (Isabel II today), on the north side of the island.
Teófilo José Jaime María Le Guillou, a French emigre, is appointed military governor of Vieques.
The municipality of Vieques is formally established; construction of original Catholic Church gets underway.
Construction of Fortín Conde de Mirasol (the Fort) begins.
Britain formally renounces all claims to Vieques.
Abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico (March 22, 1873); Manuel E. Benitez is elected Vieques’ first mayor when municipalities are extended the right to vote.
All Saints Church is officially consecrated. Vieques and Ponce were the first places in Puerto Rico under Spanish Monarchy allowed to set up non-Catholic churches.
Punta Mulas lighthouse (north side) is completed.
Spanish-American War. Treaty of Paris gives United States temporary control of Cuba and ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine islands.
Puerto Ferro lighthouse (south side) is completed.
Jones Act grants United States Citizenship to all Puerto Ricans.
On March 19, a powerful earthquake causes major structural damages to the Puerto Ferro lighthouse. The lighthouse is closed.
The United States Navy expropriates nearly two thirds of Vieques for military maneuvers.
Luis Muñoz Marín becomes 1st democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico.
Operation Portrex, the largest and most realistic military wargames of its day, is held on Vieques.
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is established on July 25.
The film Lord of the Flies, Directed by Peter Brook is shot in Vieques.
Osvaldo “Val” Gonzalez-Duriex provides air transportation to Vieques and registers his enterprise as Vieques Air Link.
Water from El Yunque (Puerto Rico’s rain forest) via underwater pipeline becomes the main water supply for Vieques.
1977 – 1988
“Vieques Pony Express”— Ventura Camacho Dávila is hired by the post office to initiate island-wide delivery of mail. For the next 11 years, Ventura Camacho does his job on horseback.
“Fishermen’s War”: An international NATO backed training military exercise on Vieques is stopped by fishermen who position themselves in the direct line of fire.
Hugo, since upgraded to a category 5 hurricane, devastates Vieques.
Restoration of Fortín Conde de Mirasol is completed.
David Sanes is killed by a bomb from U.S. Navy military exercises. The tragic death serves as the catalyst for a peace protest that galvanizes all of Puerto Rico. The ‘Paz Para Vieques’ movement garners international support and becomes instrumental in pressuring the United States Navy to end military exercises on the island.
Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is established
(3,100 acres on the western end of Vieques).
U.S. Navy leaves Vieques; 14,573 acres of land on the east end are added to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is operated under the U.S. Department of Interior and becomes the largest wildlife refuge in the Caribbean.
U.S. Congress designates parts of Vieques as a Superfund.
Montessori Education arrives in Vieques; Guinness World Records names Mosquito Bay the brightest Bio-bay in the world; MANTA, the educational outreach program of the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust (VCHT) wins EPA’s highest award two years in a row.
Comunidad Verde Vieques is established. This is the first re-settlement inside former
First Bio-luminescent Symposium in Puerto Rico is held in Vieques and hosted by the VCHT.
White House report issued by the Vieques Task Force recommends military clean-up, a solid waste strategy, health care, renewable energy, protection of the BioBay and “green” tourism.
Vieques Concert Society (VCS), in partnership with Jorge Camacho, starts the Vieques Rondalla. JUNTOS begins Humane Education in schools.
Radio Vieques (90.1 FM) begins transmitting.
VCHT signs an agreement with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to co-manage the Mosquito nature reserve.
In September Hurricanes Maria (Category 5) and Irma (Category 4) devastate the island. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in recorded history to affect Puerto Rico and its’ islands. It took several months to regain necessary resources including water and electricity..
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