Three exhibit centers proposed for St. Augustine would put the squeeze on space while providing greater understanding of our oldest city’s history according to an article in this weeks St. Augustine Report received at Historic City News today.
Proposed are a “450 Center” at Francis Field, a religious heritage center on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios, and a Castillo interpretive center in our Colonial Spanish Quarter.
The 450 and religious centers were discussed recently in talks with representatives of Aviles, Spain, and the Florida Seminole Nation, while the University of Florida proposes the Castillo Center as part of its strategy plan to take over management of 34 state-owned historic properties here.
The downside: the 450 Center will reduce the Francis Field area for special events, the religious center could impact the Catholic Diocese annual Cathedral Festival, and the Castillo Interpretive Center would take out the encampment area for living history reenactments.
The proposed 2-story 450 Center would include an exhibit hall, museum, and theaters on the first level, and banquet hall and terrace overlooking Francis Field on the second. In the balancing act of so much to tell, so little space, city Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson said, “Certainly one impact is that there will be less space; the other is that there will be more space, just different.
“It gives the city what it does not have now,” Williamson said. “Exhibition space, banquet space for 300-plus, publicly owned and accessible theater, and state of the art, 21st century museum exhibit space for traveling exhibits, the likes of which we cannot show anywhere in the city at present.”
The St. Augustine Report is edited by former Mayor and City Commissioner George Gardner.