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American Samoa Travel Guide


The Governor's Mansion, on a hilltop just west of the former Rainmaker Hotel (now Sadies by the Sea), was built in 1903 during the naval administration as the Commandant's Residence, becoming Government House in 1951.

The Jean P. Haydon Museum (weekdays 0800-1500, admission free), farther west, was erected in 1919 as a naval commissary and served as the island's post office 1951-1971. The museum features exhibits on natural history, tapa making, and tattooing, plus a collection of war clubs, kava bowls, model canoes, and old photos.

Facing the Malae-O-Le-Talu field, where local chiefs ceded the island to the United States in 1900, is the Fono Building (1973), in which the territory's legislature convenes for 45-day sessions twice a year. The police station (1908), across the field from the Fono, was originally the barracks of the Fitafita Guard, the former Samoan militia. Next to the police station is the old jail (1911), now the Interpol office.

Farther west just before the market is the old High Court, built in the U.S. Deep-South style. This is the former Naval Station Administrative Building (1904), restored in 1998 to its original appearance at great expense. Go inside to see the original staircase and skylight. Behind the courthouse is the Congregational Christian Church with two large rectangular towers, It was built between 1933 and 1949 on the site of an earlier church.

Fagatogo's Hotel Sadie Thompson
as it looked prior to WWII.

The nearby Fagatogo Public Market is busiest early Saturday morning, when screaming red-faced evangelists backed up by ear-splitting gospel music harangue vendors selling tropical fruits and vegetables. Saturday afternoons, the market becomes a bingo hall. Just inside the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources office facing the bus station next to the market is a display of fish and birdlife of Samoa.

West of here is the former guesthouse where W Somerset Maugham stayed in 1916, now the Sadie Thompson Inn. Today Maugham's tale of the hooker and the repressed missionary, set here, is discussed over upscale food.

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