News & Announcements

Posted: January 05, 2018
Nominations Open for the 2018 Florida's 11 to Save

11 to save
Please share with us the threatened historic places in your community that need attention, advocacy and support. We want to help preserve these important monuments to our shared history & heritage.

Please make your nomination today, they are due March 15.

Learn more about the 11 to Save.

Posted: December 31, 2017
Looking Back on 2017

New Year’s Eve is a time of reflection and remembrance as we approach the end of a year, and the beginning of a new one. This has been a special year for me as it marked my first full year serving as the executive director of the Florida Trust. As we end this exciting year we are wrapping up our year-end giving campaign (it’s not too late to donate – every gift counts!), and looking forward to a great 2018.

But before we turn the page and start anew, let’s take a moment and look back on some of the preservation highs and lows for this year.

Top Three Successes
Laura Street Trio today

1 – Preservationists from around the state and nation worked together to advocate for the protection of the Federal Historic Tax Credit, which provides an economic incentive to restore eligible historic buildings. Thanks to all of your work, the 20% HTC was included in the revised tax reform bill. This is great news for historic preservation in Florida and around the nation.

2 – We are excited about historic preservation in Jacksonville! The city will be host to our 2018 Florida Preservation Conference and had some good preservation news this year. The historic Barnett National Bank Building began its renovation, the Laura Street Trio adaptive reuse projects kicked off and the 100 year old Bostwick Building transformed into the Cowford Chophouse. The Florida Trust also accepted a conservation easement on the Porter Mansion this year, which will protect the Klutho-designed building in perpetuity.

3 – One of Old Florida’s great small towns had a huge preservation win this year, as a multi-year battle against the inappropriate construction of a large CVS within the historic district was victorious. The Florida Trust was a part of the battle in Apalachicola over the years, including speaking at the final Planning & Zoning committee meeting in October. The victory protects the historic district, and especially the Chestnut Cemetery, which have been directly across the street from the big-box drug store.

Three Preservation Challenges

1 – Hurricane Irma damage. The hurricane impacted historic resources across the state with flooding, wind damage and damage to historic landscapes. Recovery from the storm continues.

2 – We lost one of our 2017 11 to Save this year with the demolition of the University of Florida’s Institute for Black Culture and the Institute for Hispanic and Latin American Culture. The buildings were along West University Avenue across from the main campus, and were originally identical houses built in 1921 in the Queen Anne style with Neo-classical details. The houses were built by Luther Columbus Gracy for his two daughters, one of which married Samuel P. Harn, namesake of the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art.

3 – Cemetery Vandalism. This year included too many sad stories of vandalism and damage to historic cemeteries throughout the state, as well as the theft of markers and decorations. These living museums are particularly at risk, as many of them are in isolated areas.

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. Follow her on Twitter at @MSWyllie.

Melissa is photographed at the grave of Alexander Hamilton, Trinity Churchyard, Manhattan.

Posted: December 21, 2017
Florida Trust December Newsletter

Florida Trust Logo
Check out the December 2017 Florida Trust Preservation News!

How the HTC was saved, Florida Preservation Spotlight, call for nominations for the 2018 Florida Preservation Awards and 11 to Save, news, events and more!

Posted: December 08, 2017
Florida Preservation Award Scholarships Available

Each year, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation recognizes excellence in historic preservation in our state.

We want to represent and celebrate preservation done by a broad and diverse community. To accomplish that, our Board of Trustees is offering for the first time this year a limited number of scholarships to cover the nomination fee for individuals and organizations who many not have funds available for the fee without help. Priority will be given to non-profits making nominations and people who have not been previously recognized in our awards.

Apply for a scholarship now, the deadline for submission is Feb. 1, 2018.

Remember, the deadline for all Preservation Award nominations is March 15, 2018. Make your nomination today.

Posted: December 08, 2017
Call for Nominations: 2018 Florida Preservation Awards

Do you know an outstanding historic preservationist, organization, program or preservation achievement that has made a significant impact in preserving Florida’s history and heritage? The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation would like to recognize these people and achievements at the prestigious 2018 Florida Preservation Awards ceremony. This year’s award winners will be a part of history as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Florida Trust.

More about the awards program and the nomination process is included in the nomination packet

This year we are also offering a limited number of scholarships to cover the nomination fee for individuals and organizations who many not have funds available for the fee without help. Priority will be given to non-profits making nominations and people who have not been previously recognized in our awards. Apply for a scholarship now, the deadline for submission is Feb. 1, 2018.

Posted: November 27, 2017
Support Florida History and Heritage


Giving Tuesday is on November 28th! It is a day about ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things. We are proud to be a part of this global celebration of giving. Donate Now!

How can you help?

1. Make a donation! Help us protect Florida’s extraordinary history and heritage through supporting our programs; like Florida’s 11 to Save.
2. Join us!
3. Donate your time! We need your help to tell the stories of people and places preserving Florida’s historic places for future generations. Email if you would like to volunteer.

Posted: October 22, 2017
Protecting Florida's Historic Cemeteries

This Halloween explore, learn about and take part in preserving our state’s unique historic cemeteries

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epitaph was the last line of the The Great Gatsby. One of America’s great writers, his final resting place is in a historic cemetery in Maryland surrounded by high rises, strip malls and near a highway.

Individuals and groups from around the state are working hard to protect Florida’s historic cemeteries and keep them from the inappropriate development that mars Fitzgerald’s final resting place. Florida contains a tremendous diversity of historic cemeteries, and these outdoor museums provide symbols and clues to people lost to history and the reality of their lives.

Cemeteries are a catalyst for empathy and awareness for the people who came before us. Here are three ways you can take part in caring for a historic cemetery near you.

1. Explore a historic cemetery near you
Experiencing these historic resources is a first step in conservation. The beauty of cemeteries is they don’t just tell the stories of the rich and the powerful, or the winning side of history. In each historic cemetery a variety of stories are told.

Look for symbolism – a stone lamb on a grave often symbolizes the loss of a child and reflects Christian beliefs. Laurel leaves on a headstone represent victory, eternity, immortality and chastity. Seen in ancient time as a symbol of victory, a laurel wreath can symbolize victory over death. Obelisks are representative of a ray of sunshine, draw the eye toward heaven and thus speak of life after death. There are many good handbooks on grave stone symbolism. Here’s a quick online reference.

There is much a historic cemetery can tell you about the culture and the people who once lived there. See if you can find the oldest marker in the cemetery. What was going on in American History at this time? YOur cemetery will tell the stories of wars, disease outbreaks and local tragedies.

Look closer. African American burial traditions can include leaving shells and broken plates and bottles on a grave. The story of segregation can be told through segregated cemeteries. The tale of social standing can also be told. Look for segments of the cemetery that don’t appear to have markers. Are there dips in the ground? Most historic cemeteries have unmarked graves which may have been part of a potter’s field, where the poor or indigenous were buried. Or the empty spaces may have been graves originally marked with wooden markers since lost.

2. Participate in the 2017 Cemetery Dash
Check in on your neighborhood cemetery this month! How do things look? Is there damage from Hurricane Irma? Are the grounds well maintained? Find a site and make a report. It’s easy!

3. Work to preserve the cemetery for the future

Check if your cemetery is listed on the Florida Master Site File. If it is, you can file an update on the status of the site. If it isn’t, adding it to the Master Site File officially adds the cemetery to Florida’s historical record. The Guide to the Historical Cemetery Form, as well as the Historical Cemetery Florida Master Site File form is available online.

This year I’ve been working to add my historic family cemetery in Holmes County to the Florida Master Site File. It’s been wonderful to work with family members, review our history and know that the location of this rural cemetery will be recorded into the future.

Cemetery ownership and maintenance can be a complex issue. If you’d like to do more for your local cemetery a good first step is to contact the Florida Public Archaeology Network. They offer Cemetery Resource Protection Training around the state.

Quick guidelines for working to preserve a historic cemetery:

Know the laws – There are specific state and federal protections for cemeteries and burial grounds.

Headstones – To protect historic headstones, never do rubbings of the inscription. Don’t try to repair damaged headstones yourself and never use bleach to clean a headstone. The National Park Service recommends using water and a soft-bristled brush, or a mild chemical called D-2.

Maintenance – Lawnmowers, weed eaters and other equipment should not come in contact with headstones.

Clean up – Please be thoughtful when you are cleaning up a historic cemetery. Shells, toys and other items may be grave articles and protected. Also, historical vegetation may be part of historic cemetery traditions and are also protected.

Please share with us your stories of working to preserve historic cemeteries throughout the state – and thank you for working to save Florida’s extraordinary history and heritage!

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. Follow her on Twitter at @MSWyllie.

Melissa is photographed at the grave of Alexander Hamilton, Trinity Churchyard, Manhattan.

Posted: September 13, 2017
Keep Loving Your Flooded Historic Building

Jacksonville flooding

With Hurricane Irma, historic resources and homeowners from around the state have been hit with the impacts of flooding. We care about your efforts to rebuild. Here are some tips for your recovery process in the immediate future and when facing local building codes and insurance claims.

1. The safety of you and emergency response teams is the number one priority. First and foremost heed all warnings and take all precautions that may not always be obvious. Wildlife such as alligators and snakes, downed power lines, standing water and pot holes can pose serious threats in and around your yard. Use caution if there are electrical appliances or electric outlets impacted by flood waters.

2. Flood waters in your building could be contaminated. Keep yourself informed of any reports from your local officials of compromised water treatment facilities so you know what level of protection is necessary when cleaning up your property.

3. Remove standing water from the inside of the building and ventilate as best as possible, using fans and dehumidifiers if power is an option. Dry and sanitize surfaces to prevent mold growth. Hardware stores will be happy to point you in the right direction for these products. Read the labels to make sure the product you choose is safe for your historic materials.

4. When it’s time to make permanent decisions on repairing damage get more than one estimate and know all your mitigation options. Contractors and water restoration specialists WILL be making the rounds in your community. This is a big help when your local contractors may be dealing with their own damage and tending to all their clients but buyer beware – they will leave town and you may not see or hear from them if problems arise with their work product. Contact your local building department to educate yourself on what actions require building permits and licensed contractors. If the “contractor” refuses to get a permit it’s a red flag. Consider multiple mitigation options and choose the right fit for your budget and the long term sustainability of your building. Keep in mind if you are in a flood zone flooding could happen again. Unlike modern materials (drywall) historic materials such as plaster and wood lathe may be able to dry out and be preserved. Plaster is a cementitious material whereas drywall has a paper covering that can mold. If your contractor cannot distinguish these factors seek an alternate option. You should be able to have an informed discussion based on your particular situation. Do not assume you need to remove historic plaster walls if they are sound when cutting small ventilation holes is an option.

5. Check your crawl space for standing water and ventilate this space to the extent possible to prevent rising damp. Historic buildings with crawl spaces were intentionally designed to allow ventilation and building elevation before modern comforts. Keep these spaces clear in the future so water can easily pass and flush out quickly.

6. Ask your building department or search for your municipal building code online to determine the threshold for “substantial damage” and “substantial improvement” because this will affect code compliance for significant repairs and there may be exemptions for historic buildings. In the immediate aftermath FEMA will be working with your local officials to determine the extent that properties are heavily damaged by their own indicators so that federal aid can be engaged. Your local building codes, though, are what impacts the code compliance measures that must be made during repair work and will be reviewed by your local building official. The most challenging code factor is the required finish floor elevation to comply with flood plain management codes that could require a building to be elevated. For example, if your building is currently at a 6’ finished floor elevation and 9’ is the current flood code and your building is more than 50% damaged the repairs must include raising the finished floor to 9’ unless your local code exempts historic buildings from this requirement. Your local code may have an outright exemption or variance process. Always ask your building official and enlist a knowledgeable architect to make sure other exemptions for historic buildings are being applied.

7. Find out what financial incentives are available for repairs and restoration. Federal tax credits are available nationwide for historic, income-producing properties for qualified repairs. Locally, there may be facade grants and property tax exemptions. At the state level, historic preservation grants are available to non-profits and local governments. In all cases there may be application processes and they may be competitive. As far as insurance options, there are FEMA programs to provide low interest loans and increased cost of compliance (ICC) funding to offset some costs to bring your building into compliance with the required floor elevation. Hazard mitigation funding is applied to a community level for large projects and may be available in the future for projects listed in the local mitigation strategy. Consult your local officials to learn more and help advocate for these programs.

8. Conduct a full evaluation for structural issues that might not be immediately visible. Consult experts in historic property issues particularly for foundation, wall, and roof restoration. Temporary shoring can be installed while the evaluation and long term decisions are made.

9. Salvage interior details and your mementos. Papers, photographs, wood and plaster objects may be salvageable while upholstered items may be too far contaminated if they cannot be disassembled and treated separately.

10. Consult additional resources for more detailed mitigation and remediation options for historic buildings. The Florida Division of Historic Resources has a resource page: Guidance for Disaster Mitigation and Recovery for Historic Properties

Posted: August 07, 2017
Paradise News Features a Recap of 2017 Florida Preservation Conference

The August/September issue of Paradise News, the news magazine of the south beaches and Downtown St. Petersburg, features great coverage of our May Florida Preservation Conference.

Read the full story by clicking the file below.


August September 2017 Paradise News

Posted: July 27, 2017
Summer Project: Time to Explore Florida's Historic Places

Although our wonderful time together at our Florida Preservation Florida Preservation ConferenceConference in St. Petersburg wrapped up in May, the good news of our award winners continues to travel around the state.

The Herald-Tribune in Sarasota ran an article on the Newtown Alive project, The Palm Beach Daily News (also known as the “Shiny Sheet” because of the paper used) ran an article on Casa Marius’ beautiful rehabilitation, while The St. Augustine Record detailed the various awards the City and community residents received. It is so important for us to share these great projects and recognize the achievements not just amongst our preservation community at the annual conference awards ceremony, but also with the general public. Each year our Awards committee selects the winners, but you can vote for your favorite historic project year-round through your support and visitation.

Every summer my daughters create a summer bucket list – oh to have long summer vacations again! So as summer begins to wind down, I thought it would be fun to challenge ourselves to do one, too. As you ponder your Florida staycation or perhaps have a summer weekend to spare while the crowds are minimal, go explore some of Florida’s extraordinary historic places. If it’s possible for you, include a stop at one of the historic and cultural places that received a 2017 Florida Preservation Award as part of your summer travels.

Wondering where to start? I created a list of locations, in no particular order, to inspire your historic summer travel plans. I’ve included our 2017 preservation winners marked with an asterisk, but there’s also some additional travel ideas to get you going. Please call the Florida Trust office if you need more information on a specific project or location. And remember, in many places, a little historic exploration is possible even during your lunch hour. Not quite as exciting as an entire summer off, but a great way to celebrate summer and Florida history!
Happy exploring and please share your visits with us via social media! The Florida Trust is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Florida Summer Travel Inspiration:

Hotel Ponce de Leon, St. Augustine*
George Adderly House, Crane Point, Marathon*
 Walk or drive over a historic Florida bridge (perhaps the Bridge of Lion’s in St. Augustine)
 Miami Dade County Courthouse*
Historic Hampton House, Miami*
 Visit your local Historical Society or history museum (such as the Palm Beach County Historical Society, or the Old Wakulla County Jail)
Government House, St. Augustine*
 Keys Energy Services building, Key West*
 Stroll through a historic cemetery (like Miami’s Woodlawn Cemetery at SW 8th Street)
Le Meridien Hotel, Tampa*
 Oesterreicher-Mccormick Cabin, Jacksonville Beaches*
 Take in the art (like the A. E. Backus Museum & Gallery in Fort Pierce, the Ringling in Sarasota or the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale)
The Grove Museum, Tallahassee*
 Observe a traditional ceremony of the many cultures we have around the state
St. Augustine archaeological exhibit at the visitor’s Center and marker’s throughout the City*
Newtown Conservation District, Sarasota*
 Watch the Tidally United summit online*
 Participate in a festival celebrating crops or aquaculture from our state Friederike mittner
Cape San Blas Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters*
Key West Women’s Club*
 Throw a penny into a historic fountain
 Take a stroll through a historic neighborhood or Main Street
 Enjoy one of our historic lighthouses, beach communities or hidden gems (like Lichgate on High Road in Tallahassee)

Friederike Mittner is the Board President of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservaiton.