County Historic Resources program

Yesterday, Historic Resources Coordinator Robin E. Moore distributed to Historic City News the most recent update document for the St. Johns County Historic Resources program.

• Elkton Hastings Historic Farmstead Survey: A draft of the survey report was submitted by Bland and Associates, Inc. in April and a final is due in May. The report contains a valuable historical narrative of the development of the southern part of St. Johns County, and of Hastings. Ten farmhouses were identified as possible National Register candidates. The study will be made available on the County’s Environmental Division website in the near future.

• AL Lewis Arch: Architect Walter O’Kon has been directing the restoration effort of this last remaining structure from Florida Memorial College. The effort is almost complete, with just the roofing tiles to be installed. After the restoration, a plan must be developed for landscaping and interpretation. Representatives from Florida Memorial University in Miami travelled to St. Augustine in March to view the progress (see photo) and discuss interpretive plans for the park.

• Nation’s Oldest Port National Heritage Area effort: Dr. Jonathon Mabry, from the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area in Arizona travelled to St. Augustine to speak to Chamber of Commerce members and interested citizens on NHAs. He focused on the economic benefits of NHAs to a region. Staff continues to work on the National Heritage Area effort, providing information on the designation to citizens, county staff, and officials. Gaining consensus and support is a primary goal at this point. Staff is also coordinating the Themes chapter of the NHA Feasibility Study. This chapter includes contributions from experts in the historical and natural resources of the region. Around 20 people are contributing to the document.

• St. Johns County Oral Histories: The oral history project targeting long-time residents of the northwestern part of the county was recently completed by Brockington and Associates, under contract with the County. Charlie Phillips completed 23 oral interviews, and 4 video interviews. There is some incredible information contained in these discussions. The interviews have all been fully transcribed and will be available to the public through the St. Augustine Historical Society. A similar effort is underway along the A1A corridor.

• The County is a partner in the T’omb It May Concern Cemetery Workshop, to be held in June. The 3-day workshop will focus on the historic cemeteries of St. Augustine and St. Johns County and provide tours of the cemeteries, as well as presentations on various topics of cemetery research and preservation. The Historic Cemeteries of St. Johns County poster will be unveiled the opening night of the workshop, Thursday night.

• The Board of County Commissioners recently approved a HRRB-recommended lease contract with the 450th Corps for land in the Ravenswood area. The property was a former trash transfer station, but will now be used by the 450th Corps to store and dry logs. The logs will eventually be milled for use in building a replica Spanish ship for the 450 anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine. The ship type is likely to be a caravel (see image), a dominate vessel type used in the 15th and early 16th century for exploration and colonization.

Logboat Preservation: Recently, an important historical object was saved from the destruction by the elements. Working with County staff and Lighthouse staff, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm graciously agreed to exchange a unique, vernacular watercraft purchased four years ago for a replica flatboat built by volunteers at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The important craft is a logboat, probably built in the 19th century, which appears to be a design of local origin. The boat may represent a local building tradition going back over centuries. A plan for its conservation is now being developed by county staff and staff from the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.

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