News & Announcements

Posted: July 07, 2017
Florida Trust Past President and Trustee Emeritus named to International Board

Dr. Leslee F. Keys, Assistant Professor of History and Director of Historic Preservation and Special Initiatives at Flagler College, has been elected to the 21-member Board of Trustees of the United States chapter of the International Commission on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS). She is the member representing Florida, and one of four newly-elected trustees.

Founded in 1965, US/ICOMOS is the single professional preservation organization in the US with an international emphasis, enabling participation in worldwide heritage conservation. US/ICOMOS promotes strong ties between national, regional, private, and governmental organizations within the U.S. and the international preservation community.

Keys stated, “I am honored to be elected to the US/ICOMOS board of trustees. This opportunity builds on my previous board service at the local, state and national levels and provides an opportunity to promote the heritage of Flagler College and St. Augustine. More importantly, Flagler College is building its international programs, and a relationship with US/ICOMOS and this network of professionals can foster opportunities to inspire the next generation of scholars to serve as stewards for international cultural resources.”

Keys has been an employee of the College since 2005, after three years as an adjunct faculty member. Before joining the Department of Humanities faculty in 2012, she served as the director of corporate, foundation and government relations in the Office of Institutional Advancement. She has been involved in historic preservation in Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida. She has served as guest faculty for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and UF’s Preservation Institute: Nantucket, and is the author/editor of five books on history and preservation.

Posted: June 29, 2017
Why Protect Historic Places?

This month I participated in the National Trust for Historic Preservation Leadership Training: Preserving History, Building Community. The training focused on place-based redevelopment and partnered with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the National Parks Service. I attended thanks to a scholarship provided by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Preservation professionals from around the country worked alongside stakeholders to strategize potential real estate and community development options for the A.G. Gaston Office Building, a vitally important piece of the Civil Rights District’s historic fabric.

News article Melissa Wyllie
The A.G. Gaston Office Building is directly across the street from the A.G. Gaston Motel and Kelly Ingram Park and one block down from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. It was built in 1959 and served as the headquarters for A. G. Gaston, the most prominent and financially successful mid-century African American entrepreneur and businessman in Alabama.

During the training real estate, preservation, museum interpretation and financing professionals involved looked at a common question from many different angles. That question was: why and how do we preserve historic places?

So why do we preserve historic places? The Florida Trust believes in not just saving buildings, but working so that historic preservation is an important part of deliberately planning and strengthening communities. For historically disinvested communities, which exist around Florida, America and the world, there is a need for reinvestment in the built environment, infrastructure, cultural and social programs.
The value of historic places is cultural, living histories that tell human stories; economic, with residual value in the building difficult to recoup; and environmental, the most environmentally friendly building is the one already built.

Jack Pyburn, FAIA, is a principal and preservation architect with Lord Aeck Sargent in Atlanta and one of the trainers for the Preservation Leadership Training event in Birmingham. He may have said it best in his presentation when he described who we do preservation for. In the present moment, we adapt historic places to our current needs and in current markets with information and technology relevant only into the near future. But the big picture is we are preserving historic places long term for future generations so they can interpret, experience and learn in their own ways.

Solution for preserving historic places are innumerable. We know each project brings its own unique challenges and opportunities. To be effective preservationists have to be willing to work with a variety of stakeholders, listening to the community and staying willing to compromise.

Historic preservation is complex and plays in shades of gray. It cannot be done in a silo. A building isn’t saved because it remains standing. It is saved when it has a vital use relevant for its community and culture. As the Florida Trust continues to advocate and educate, with programs such as our Florida’s 11 to Save program, we want to incorporate all of these details into creative solutions that preserve Florida’s extraordinary places for future generations.

Those creating the Civil Rights National Park District in Birmingham strive to preserve the places that tell the story of civil rights in Birmingham. They preserve those places not just to share the story of Alabama, but to tell a story about the quest for human rights everywhere.

It’s interesting to take a step back and contemplate why you work to save historic places. We would love to hear your story.

Melissa Wyllie Trinity Church
Melissa Wyllie is the Executive Director of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the non-profit dedicated to protecting Florida’s extraordinary history and heritage. @MSWyllie

Posted: June 19, 2017
Cuba Past & Present: Explore the Culture of Cuba

Join us for an unforgettable trip exploring Cuba’s unique architecture and heritage. This year, for the first time, the Florida Trust will be adding two additional locations to its itinerary.

We will be traveling Sept. 30 through Oct. 7, 2017 and our program includes hotel, most meals and excursions and your flight from Miami to Havana and back to Miami. On our trip we will we be exploring the architecture, culture and history of Havana, but also traveling to Cienfuegos and exploring Trinidad de Cuba. Adding these two locations will allow travelers to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the many historical treasures of Cuba.

Cienfuegos is a city on the southern coast of Cuba and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. According to UNESCO, “Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century.”

Founded in the early 16th century Trinidad de Cuba was built on the prosperity of the sugar trade and was an important step on the way to colonization of the American continent. We will stay two nights in the city, with highlights including visiting a restored sugar plantation, the Old Quarter and a private visit to a 16th century church.

We hope you can join us on this amazing adventure to Cuba! Please see the links below to access the full program and to register. Registration is open through August, and all program registrations include a membership to the Florida Trust.

Feel free to call the Florida Trust office if you have any questions (850) 224-8128 or


2017 Florida Trust Cuba Program

Posted: June 13, 2017
2017 Florida Preservation Awards Making Headlines Statewide

2017 Award_NewtownAlive_AfricanAmHeritage The Florida Trust continues making headlines through recent announcements, including these articles about 2017 Preservation Award recipients. Read more:

Newtown Alive project wins statewide historic preservation award. Written in the Herald-Tribune.

This famous Palm Beach house earned a state preservation award, Palm Beach Daily:

St. Augustine's Enduring Colonies ExhibitSt. Augustine projects recognized at historic preservation conference, St. Augustine Record.

Forests, trees and Flagler’s footprint, St. Augustine Record:

Posted: June 08, 2017
Florida's 11 to Save and Milton Historic District Making Headlines

2017_11toSave_MiltonDowntownThe Florida Trust recently announced its annual 11 to Save during the 2017 Florida Preservation Conference. Making media headlines was the Milton Historc District which was included on the 11 to Save list. Read these articles for more on this endangered area.

Florida preservation organization: Milton Historic District is Endangered.

Milton Historic District Makes Florida’s List of Most Threatened Historic Sites.

Posted: May 31, 2017
Let's Make Preservation Month Last All Year Long

I’m feeling a little wistful as we wrap up Historic Preservation Month. We at the Florida Trust have felt your energy as you work to save and promote the historic places that matter to you this month – and it’s been wonderful. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Wouldn’t it be great if each month we felt this enthusiasm? I know I gave myself permission to experience new historic places in May, after all it was Preservation Month. What if we carried that enthusiasm and motivation with us all year long?

I can’t help but think it would recharge our batteries and remind us why we work to preserve these special historic treasures. There is nothing better than getting out and experiencing Florida’s history to understand why these places must be preserved.

St. Marks Lighthouse Stairs
During my Preservation Month travels, I visited the St. Marks Lighthouse in St. Marks, Florida. It is the second-oldest light station in Florida and is remarkable in so many ways. It has survived hurricanes, Union bombardment during the Civil War and even a female lighthouse keeper. There is a remarkable fourth-order Fresnel lens, installed in 1867.

Today, the lighthouse is part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. View from the St. Marks LighthouseThe St. Marks Lighthouse Friends association is working to preserve the building, including the keeper’s residence, and again open it to the public. The St. Marks Lighthouse is included in proposed Division of Historical Resources Grant funding this year, we are waiting to see if it will be signed by the governor.

How can you keep Preservation Month alive? Visit historic places near you, and make a point to include some on your travels. Share the historic places you love, and your Florida Preservation Stories, with us.
Also, this summer, please try to visit your local lawmakers and share with them a historic place worth protecting in their district. Let us know if we can help with those visits. Let’s stay excited about our history and committed to preservation all year long.

Melissa Wyllie Trinity Church
Melissa Wyllie is the Executive Director of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the non-profit dedicated to protecting Florida’s extraordinary history and heritage. @MSWyllie

Posted: May 31, 2017
Florida Trust Votes in New Leadership for 2017-2018

The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, at its annual membership meeting on May 19, 2017, voted in new leadership, including a new Board of Trustees President Friederike Mittner. Among the roles voted in were a new Executive Committee, Trustee Emeritus and three new Trustees.

Join us in welcoming new Trustees Ennis Davis, Jacksonville, Christine Dalton, Sanford and Amanda Skier, West Palm Beach. Also continuing to serve on the Board will be former Trustee and past President Leslee Keys as the newest Trustee Emeritus. Congratulations to all and thank you for your service to the Florida Trust.

View the full Press Release linked at the bottom of this story and read about the new leadership.


Press Release 2017-18 Board of Trustees

Posted: May 23, 2017
Florida Trust Announces the 2017 Preservation Awards Winners

In a ceremony at the 2017 Florida Preservation Conference, the Florida Trust announced its 2017 Preservation Awards recipients. The Florida Preservation Awards program showcases projects, groups and individuals that further the preservation of the architectural, archaeological and cultural resources of the Sunshine State. Each year nominations are solicited that effectively demonstrate the importance and comprehensiveness of the preservation activity accomplished. After evaluation by a jury of qualified professionals, the awards were presented in eight categories.

Read the 2017 Preservation Awards Press Release below and learn about the different awards categories and individual recipients.

Nominations for the 2018 Preservation Awards will begin in the fall of 2017. Not a Florida Trust member? Contact Ann Farran at and ask to be added to our list of award nomination notifications.


2017 Preservation Awards Press Release

Posted: May 17, 2017
2017 Florida's 11 to Save

Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Announces 2017 Florida’s 11 to Save at the Florida Preservation Conference.

List spotlights the most threatened historic properties in the state, and drives the nonprofits education and advocacy initiatives for the year ahead

St. Petersburg, Fla, May 18, 2017 – The Florida Trust for HistoricFlorida's 11 to Save Preservation today announced the 2017 Florida’s 11 to Save, the most threatened historic properties in the state, at its Florida Preservation Conference.

This year’s list reflects historic resources in Florida’s Highlands, Indian River, Hillsborough, Alachua, Dade, Leon, Sarasota and Santa Rosa counties, as well as thematic listings that can found throughout the state.

Each year, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation announces its 11 to Save program as part of its Florida Preservation Conference. The program is designed to increase the public’s awareness of the urgent need to save Florida’s historic resources, and to empower local preservationists and preservation groups in their efforts to preserve Florida’s rich history.

“This year’s list reflects Florida’s rich and diverse history,” said Clay Henderson, Florida Trust Board of Trustees President. “Those who love Florida have called for help protecting these special historic places, from pioneer-era to mid-century modern, from historic African American schools to downtowns, we are committed to protect our state’s extraordinary history and heritage.”

Download and read the full release below.


Florida's 11 to Save Press Release 2017

Posted: April 20, 2017
Can Historic Places Make us Feel Better?

Many involved in historic preservation believe old buildings need us, that we stand as protectors for history and guard monuments to our past so those stories can be told for generations to come.

But what if we need old buildings?

It turns out historic places are good for us. They improve our health, getting us out of the isolation of our cars and inspiring interactions within our community. Old buildings cause awe, charge our imaginations and can create empathy for those who experienced life differently than us.

So, maybe it’s not surprising that Naples, the city with the highest well-being in the United States, is working so hard to preserve its unique history. Another historic Florida city, Sarasota, also ranked in the top 10 communities with the highest well-being in the country. The Gallup survey those rankings are based on includes how people feel about their community as one of the five components to overall well-being.

Across the Pond, a 2016 report from Historic England shows 93% of respondents feel local heritage has an impact on their personal quality of life. Additionally, those who participate in their community’s heritage, such as by visiting a historic site, rank their happiness as 8.1 on a scale from 1 to 10, versus a rating of 7.8 by those who do not participate in heritage.

In the book The Past and Future City author Stephanie Meeks, the CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, writes, “Certain places give us the chance to feel a connection to others. They also connect us to the broad community of human experience, a community that exists across time. And they help us understand that the lives we lead are not insignificant – that what we do will have an impact on the future.”

At its heart, historic preservation does more than just save an old building, it fosters community, strengthens neighborhoods and even improves well-being. A big part of our nation’s downtown revival is driven by people’s desire to live and work in buildings with unique character, not in cookie-cutter boxes, connected to a larger neighborhood.

In May, we celebrate National Historic Preservation Month. Help us represent the diverse history of Florida by sharing your Florida Preservation story (and photos!) and tagging #MyFloridaStory.

You can also partner with the National Trust to give voice to the historic places that matter to you by saying This Place Matters.

Melissa Wyllie Trinity Church Follow us on social media next month to explore the extraordinary places that makes Florida unique, and stay tuned for the announcement of the 2017 Florida’s 11 to Save, the most endangered historic places in the state, which will be announced May 18, during the Florida Preservation Conference in St. Petersburg.

Melissa Wyllie is the Executive Director of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the non-profit dedicated to protecting Florida’s extraordinary history and heritage. @MSWyllie