Former Mayor George Gardner, Chairman of the St. Augustine 450 Community Corps, reported to Historic City News local reporters that Dr. Michael Gannon has agreed to review efforts to strengthen the city’s tour guide licensing procedure.
Dr. Gannon, the University of Florida Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History and St. Augustine La Florida Award recipient, will assist one of the 450 Community Corps committees; chaired by St. Augustine resident Gerald Eubanks.
Tour guides are required to be licensed by the city and to pass an exam.
According to the code, candidates for a tour guide license are to be examined “as to their knowledge of the history of the city; the names and location of streets and highways; and the locations, proper designations and history of the various points of historical and general interest within the city and its vicinity.”
The license fee is $8, and “Successful applicants shall not be required to retake the examination provided they comply with all the provisions of this article.” Eubanks says that the need to improve that examination and licensing process is overdue.
“Tour guides who say the Sisters of St. Joseph were black nuns rather than nuns brought here to educate black children after the Civil War, are targets for our review,” Eubanks said.
Other errors overheard by the committee included “the bricks on the streets were made by the Reynolds Tobacco Company when tobacco sales were slow,” and the claim that “Henry Flagler was John D. Rockefeller’s brother.”
Gannon offered several years ago to conduct a tour guide seminar, and UF Distinguished Research Curator of Archaeology Kathy Deagan quickly joined him. She is out of the area and couldn’t be reached for comment, Gardner said.
“We want to make a significant difference in assuring the best, most accurate and complete storyline of history is presented to the touring public,” Eubanks told Historic City News. A tour guide himself, Eubanks considers Drs. Gannon and Deagan “icons with whom to affiliate during the process.”
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by U of F