Moonhole is a giant natural rock arch only reachable by foot or boat on Bequia island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In the late 1950s, a couple named Tom and Gladdie Johnston retired from their advertising business in the US and moved to Bequia to run the Sunny Caribbee Hotel. Later, the family that owned the uninhabited western end of Bequia invited them to visit Moonhole. After visiting the natural arch several times, Tom came up with the idea of building a campsite underneath Moonhole.
Having no formal education as an architect, Tom relied on his plans sketched in the sand and a trial-and-error approach to construction. The materials were carried to the arch by boat, and the campsite soon turned into a house with a working kitchen, dining area, and bedrooms. Eventually, Moonhole became Tom and Gladdie’s home.
Tom Johnston built the Moonhole houses around the trees instead of cutting them. So, there are trees still growing up in the middle of living rooms, bedrooms, and decks.
The house under the rock arch soon started to attract attention, and upon the strong requests of his friends, Tom agreed to build houses for them, as well. In 1964, Tom and Gladdie formed Moonhole Company Limited, and over thirty years, Tom built sixteen more houses, a commissary office, living quarters for the company staff, and a Gallery for congregations every Sunday. The company is also a self-sufficient complex that uses solar panels for powering most houses and huge cisterns collecting rain to supply water.
On the way, Tom and Gladdie also helped the people of Paget Farm, who built and staffed Moonhole. The couple provided not only jobs but also assistance with medical and educational expenses. Moreover, they established a private charity called Moonhole Friends, Inc. for the needy in Bequia today.