Originally built in the early 1800’s as a series of interconnecting single-story warehouses, the DRAKE’S PASSAGE buildings straddle a central passage running lengthwise between two structures with entrances from Main Street or the Waterfront. These streets, alleys and passageways were eventually converted from warehouse spaces to dry goods outlets – including the Lockhart Department Store – before being transitioned to tourist oriented retail shops with the advent of tourism in the Virgin Islands in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Purchased in 1920 by A.H. Lockhart, the property was leased to developer Arthur Witty in the late-1960’s and at that time the second floor (for offices) was added, for a total of 32,000 square feet, and a multitude of small retail spaces, in addition to larger Main Street locations, were created to take advantage of the prosperous tourist trade. Lockhart resumed management of the property in 1990 and many of the existing DRAKE’S PASSAGE retailers have been in operation in this location for more than 40 years!
Lockhart Realty, Inc., the largest owner of shopping centers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, owns and manages six shopping centers on St. Thomas (Drake’s Passage, Grand Galleria, Fort Mylner Shopping Center and Commercial Center, Red Hook Plaza, Market Square East and Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center) and one shopping center (Orange Grove Shopping Center) on St. Croix.
Approximately 320 acres of undeveloped real estate zoned for commercial and residential development is owned by Lockhart Realty Inc., and is located either adjacent to the primary business and tourist district on St. Thomas or on the main highway connecting downtown and the eastern end of St. Thomas.
The parent company, Lockhart Companies Incorporated, together with its subsidiaries, also owns and operates several insurance companies and a financial services company. The outstanding shares of stock of Guardian Insurance Company, Inc. and Heritage Insurance Limited were purchased in 1998.
Founded in 1884 by Alfred H. Lockhart, a progenitor of the current controlling shareholders, the Company was incorporated in 1936. www.lockhart.com.