Charlestown Harbor was originally called Bath Bay, in reference to Bath Stream. This stream was noted for its curative waters.
Historically, in colonial times, the town of Charlestown was protected by Fort Charles to the south and Fort Black Rocks to the north. Many of the oldest two-story stone buildings were severely damaged over time by earthquakes, which tended to cause the upper story to collapse into the lower story. This unfortunate design flaw lead to the common practice of building a wooden upper floor above a stone ground floor.
Charlestown was the birthplace and childhood home of Alexander Hamilton. The restored stone building which was his place of birth now houses the Museum of Nevis History on the ground floor, and the Nevis Island Administration Assembly Room on the upper floor. There are two other museums in Charlestown: the Nelson Museum, and the Nevis Sport Museum, as well as the Philatelic Bureau.
There are many other important buildings in the town, some historical and some recent, such as the Post Office, the old Treasury Building which is now the Nevis Tourism Authority, the Court House and Public Library, the new Police Station and the Alexandra Hospital. At the northern end of town is the Bath Hotel and Spring House, which was a famous tourist hotel and spa during the 18th century. The main building of the Bath Hotel is now occupied by government offices.
Charlestown has a population of 1,500. It is the main administrative and commercial center for the island of Nevis, and is also the most concentrated residential area on the island. It is the hub for much of the transportation in Nevis. There is a modern port area with a dock where the ferries from St. Kitts load and unload passengers. However, Charlestown lacks a commercial airport.
Memorial Square commemorates all the Nevisian soldiers who died during World Wars I and II. Nearby is the Cotton Ginnery Mall which supplies some of Nevis' residents' recreational shopping needs.
The education system on Nevis is similar to the British system. There are five pre-schools and seven primary schools. Primary schools are government-provided. In addition there are three private primary schools. After primary school, children attend one of three secondary schools. Please also see the article: List of schools in Saint Kitts and Nevis.