Regional Road Tour: Florida Trust Connects with DeFuniak Stakeholders

Above (clockwise): Forward DeFuniak Founder Melinda Henderson, DeFuniak Springs CRA Executive Director Joshua R. Ervin, DeFuniak Springs City Manager Michael Barker, Florida Trust Board President Jenny Wolfe, DeFuniak Springs Planning Director Chris Wallace, Florida Trust Board Member Ross Pristera and Florida Trust Business & Communications Manager Dafni Kirkpatrick.

Nestled in the heart of Florida, DeFuniak Springs is a charming city, home to a remarkable collection of historic landmarks, which transport visitors to a bygone era. The centerpiece of DeFuniak Springs is Lake DeFuniak, a circular natural lake surrounded by magnificent historic homes. nnOne such gem is the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood, a majestic structure that served as the focal point for cultural and educational activities during the Chautauqua Movement. Other notable landmarks include the Walton County Courthouse and the beautifully restored Baldwin Avenue Historic District.

As part of our Regional Road tour, the Florida Trust team embarked on a visit to DeFuniak Springsnon March 14 to discuss historic preservation with local stakeholders. Organized by nonprofits DeFuniak Springs Landmarks and Forward DeFuniak in collaboration with Florida Trust Regional Director Ross Pristera, the meeting brought together City of DeFuniak Springs staff, the DeFuniak Springs Community Redevelopment Agency and DeFuniak Springs Main Street representatives, in an effort to strengthen their collaborative efforts in safeguarding the city’s architectural and cultural legacy.nnBy bringing together organizations with a shared interest in historic preservation, the visit aimed to foster open dialogue and create a stronger network of support. This collaboration, paving the way for effective strategies, collective decision-making and the implementation of sustainable preservation practices in DeFuniak Springs.n

“Preserving the past is not just about safeguarding buildings; it’s about honoring the stories, traditions and collective memories that shape our identity,” said Florida Trust Business & Communications Manager Dafni Kirkpatrick. “Our visit to DeFuniak Springs reaffirmed the power of collaboration and community engagement in the pursuit of historic preservation. Together, we can ensure that these landmarks continue to inspire and connect us to the roots of our shared history.”

Preservation efforts are most successful when the community is actively engaged and invested in their local heritage, and the meeting emphasized the significance of community involvement in historic preservation projects. By fostering collaboration, sharing expertise and developing strategic plans, the discussion has set the stage for continued efforts to safeguard DeFuniak Springs’ remarkable architectural and cultural heritage.nnWe are grateful to DeFuniak Springs Landmarks Founder and Board Chairperson Diane Pickett for opening her beautiful historic home to host our meeting and her generous welcome and hospitality, and to everyone involved for taking the time to meet with us and discuss how we can work together to safeguard local history and heritage.n

The event was part of the Florida Trust’s 2023 Regional Road Tour campaign. Florida is a big state, and to help us better connect with preservationists in communities around the state, we established eight Regional Councils representing all of Florida’s cities and counties.

Regional Councils are led by volunteers who are contacts between the Florida Trust and the region they represent, whom we’ve designated as Regional Council Ambassadors. To reflect our commitment to engage, listen and learn in each of these Regions, we kicked off our first annual Regional Road Tour campaign this year, which will bring the Florida Trust team to visit and engage in each region in Florida.

Stay tuned for our Regional Road Tour journey as we travel the state! Want to get more involved in Region 1? Contact us at


Above: Chautauqua Auditorium on Lake DeFuniak (c. 1910) – Florida Memory

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