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Lawaetz Family History

Erik and Jennie Lawaetz

In 1964, Mr. Erik Lawaetz, a Danish-West Indian developer from St. Croix, purchased Balenbouche Estate from the Floissac family, along with other surrounding farms. He began diversifying the traditional crops and tried to revitalize the agricultural production. Jennie Lawaetz refurbished the largely empty 180-year old Plantation House with antiques in keeping with st lucia history. However, the islands infrastructure and marketing was geared towards banana export, and there was political tension after independence in 1979. The family was accused of being foreign speculators. They did not live permanently in St. Lucia, and in their absence, the properties were mismanaged.

Roy and Uta Lawaetz

In 1984, Mr. Lawaetz’s daughter-in-law, Uta Lawaetz, visited Balenbouche Estate and realized that the property was in critical financial and legal condition. Uta and her husband, Caribbean artist Roy Lawaetz, decided to stay and try to sort out the family’s affairs. They faced many challenges, including the forced acquisition of most of the family land by the government in the late 1980′s. Yet they persevered, and were able to save the Balenbouche plantation house and surrounding acreage. They began repairing and renovating the old buildings and establishing crops again, such as Carambolas, passion fruit, ginger lilies, vegetables and tobacco.

Uta, Verena and Anitanja Lawaetz

When Roy and Uta separated in 1991, Roy Lawaetz returned to his art career, whilst Uta remained at Balenbouche with their two daughters, Verena, born in Copenhagen in 1977, and Anitanja, born in St Lucia in 1984. Uta, an architect and interior designer from Germany who had grown up on a farm in Austria and spent many years in the Far East, was well suited for the challenge. She knew that only a strong presence and commitment would enable her to protect and care for Balenbouche. She converted former staff quarters into guest cottages and gradually this unique heritage site was able to support itself through a combination of farming and tourism. Verena and Anitanja Lawaetz spent their childhood at Balenbouche, where they were home schooled by their mother for many years. Later they completed and continued their education overseas, returning to St. Lucia and Balenbouche in their early 20’s. Since then, they have spent much of their time living and working in St. Lucia and at Balenbouche. For the three women, the preservation and development of the property has become a lifelong commitment.