Local psychologist Sue Adine Middleton-Bates, Ph.D., donated her Davis Shores home to the City as a center for its Archaeology Division in 2007; subject to a stipulation reserving the life estate of her husband, Dr. Henry Bates.
“I want our wonderful, oldest town to now have a more powerful focus on our search for the evidence of our past, and that evidence lies beneath our feet. As a trained scientist and a deep believer in the importance of our past here, I presently wish to assist our archeologists to be able to intensify their search for the older reality,” Dr. Middleton said when making the donation.
Middleton died in May of 2008, and, during the December 8, 2008 meeting, the St. Augustine City Commission approved the acceptance of the Middleton House Deed and the conveyance of property. Then City Manager Bill Harriss told the commission that the house was worth over $1 million and the donation was beneficial for the city.
Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline abstained from the vote; afterwards she said that her mother’s gift to the city was a gift of love to the people of St. Augustine and that Middleton wanted to ensure that the property filled a need in the community. She said that her mother was intrigued by the city’s archeology program. Sikes-Kline said that she was proud of her mothers’ contributions, loyalty, and commitment to the community and her commitment to the Athenian oath.
The City’s Archaeological Preservation Ordinance was established in 1986. The city’s Archaeology Division was created in 1990 as was the position of City Archaeologist. The ordinance established regulations designed to protect the City’s archaeological heritage from the effects of ground-penetrating construction activities through documentation.
Since the establishment of the ordinance 25 years ago, more than 600 projects have occurred, resulting in the collection of hundreds of thousands of artifacts. The new facility will increase the City’s ability to store, catalogue, and curate these items as well as the paper documentation that accompanies them.
Mark Knight, Director of the Planning and Building Department, said that for 16 years the division was housed at the water treatment plant on King Street; then was relocated to the basement of Government House.
On Monday night, the City Commission will consider an action to memorialize Dr. Middleton’s vision and support by naming the newly established archaeological research center on Pellicer Lane the “Dr. Sue A. Middleton Archaeology Center”. Space for the facility became available when the city’s central warehouse was moved into a new facility last year.
Knight sees this permanent facility as an enhancement of the city’s ability to manage and research artifacts collected over the past 25 years, as well as an indication of the city’s commitment in preserving its unique cultural heritage.