Susan Connor, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of St Johns, announced to Historic City News today that the “museum without walls” is one-step closer to a brick-and-mortar location that they can call home in St Augustine.
Two weeks ago, Connor said the local non-profit organization entered into a lease-to-purchase agreement with the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences to acquire nine historic downtown St Augustine houses at the intersection of St. George, Bridge and Cordova Streets.
“After an intensive site search, the property meets all of our criteria to establish an amazing children’s museum for our community,” said local accountant, Ben Platt, who serves as President of the Children’s Museum. “Our goal in purchasing this property will be the continued preservation and appreciation of these historic structures, while providing a new educational and cultural family resource in downtown St. Augustine.”
In 2007, a group of incredibly enthusiastic parents and professionals came together after they realized the community lacked a place solely focused on regular, creative, hands-on play for young children.
The group drew upon their tremendous expertise in education, marketing, public relations, publishing, fundraising and business management — then volunteered to form a Board of Directors; thereby setting the museum in motion.
During the six-month lease period, Children’s Museum of St Johns will utilize 246 St. George Street as office and meeting space, while the remainder of the Dow Museum property remains open to the public and operated by the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences.
The Children’s Museum will use the time to “exercise thorough due diligence on the property” and compile a detailed budget for renovation and exhibits.
“With 16,000-20,000 square feet, a historic downtown location and a unique layout of both indoor and outdoor exhibit space, we know this property is going to allow us to create a world-class children’s museum in the nation’s oldest city,” said Connor. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our supporters throughout the community, who have worked with us for nearly five years to bring us to this point.”
If everything works out the way Connor and the Board hopes, the Children’s Museum of St Johns will exercise the option to purchase the property at the conclusion of the lease.
2011-2012 Board of Directors
Ben Platt, CPA / President
Heather Marks / Vice President
Elena Laguardia / Secretary and Liaison to Presidential Advisory Council
Sue Lucas / Treasurer
Christine M. Chapman
Jennifer Jackson / Co-Chair, Education Committee
Wendy White Philcox
Stephanie Styles / Chair, Marketing Committee
Kathy Weed / Volunteer Coordinator
2011-2012 Presidential Advisory Council
S. Katherine Batenhorst
Betty B. Frederick
Howard C. Serkin
Paul K. Williamson
Children’s Museum of St Johns is governed, and its programs run by, a volunteer Board of Directors from a wide variety of educational backgrounds and experiences as well as many capable and dedicated volunteers.
In December 2008, Children’s Museum of St Johns introduced its first hands-on exhibit “Walk like a Timucuan” to an estimated audience of 700 children at the Ancient City Kids Day. Since the museum’s formation, it reports having served more than 2,500 children.