By Karen Neff
Two very exciting projects to celebrate our colorful and vibrant history are on the horizon. One that’s unfolding is establishing the West Augustine Historical District.
Kaitlin Dorn of the Cultural Resources Department of the St. Johns County Growth Management Division has shared information regarding the possible opportunities for West Augustine to identify and celebrate its historic past in the upcoming weeks and months.
Interested? Read on.
St. Johns County’s Cultural Resources Program became a Certified Local Government (CLG) in May. CLG status is beneficial because the county is eligible to apply for one grant per year with NO matching funds requirement for Florida Division of Historical Resources small matching grants.
The county applied for an oral history project to recapture the history of West Augustine and was ranked No. 1 in the application review process for funding. If the Florida Legislature passes the budget, the county’s cultural resources department will be awarded the grant of nearly $29,000 and monies will become available next July.
The project itself entails creating an advisory board composed of local citizens to work with a consulting firm to identify 25 West Augustine residents who will be interviewed about the history of the area. All 25 interviews will be transcribed and made available in local libraries, at the Historical Society, and other outlets identified by the advisory board.
Of those 25 interviews, five will be videotaped and their stories made into a mini-documentary available online as well as the outlets described above. The task is to create the advisory board on the assumption that the monies will be awarded and the project will go forward as planned in July 2015-2016.
In addition to this oral history project, three surveys of our area over the last few years have identified 15 historically significant structures that are eligible for the local County Historic Landmark designation in West Augustine. Some of these properties are commercial and most are privately owned.
Historical designation is beneficial because:
a) This recognition is similar to a National Register listing;
b) Properties may receive an historic marker;
c) Privately owned properties can receive and ad valorem tax exemption and commercial properties can receive both an ad valorem tax exemption and a federal tax credit.
As those of us who reside in West Augustine already know, our neighborhoods have had a huge impact on the history of this city. It’s long overdue that this vibrant history is shared with our larger community as well as the tourists who flock in droves to the oldest city.
If you or someone you know wants to be involved in the oral history project in West Augustine or learn more about the historic designation process, call Dorn at 209-0792 or Robin Moore at 209-0623. They will be delighted to fill you in on these projects and get you involved.