Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Most Endangered Historic Sites - Miami Marine Stadium

Today the National Trust for Historic Preservation released their 2009 list of the Most Endangered Historic Sites in the United States. On the list is Miami Marine Stadium. To learn more about the stadium, or to help preserve this landmark, visit the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium's website, http://www.marinestadium.org/.

Should we Floridians be proud or ashamed that Florida landmarks make this list so often? In 2008, it was Vizcaya and Bonnet House. In 2007, it was Hialeah Park Race Course. We skipped 2006, but there was the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in 2005.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Old Spanish Trail's Zero Marker

The Old Spanish Trail is not really Spanish, nor is it particularly old, at least for St. Augustine. The "trail" began in 1915 as a transcontinental highway for automobiles, connecting St. Augustine in the east to San Diego in the west. The Old Spanish Trail Association began in Mobile, Alabama, where they saw the commercial benefit of having an east/west highway connecting the new north/south Jackson and Dixie highways. Thus, the Old Spanish Trail began in a city known for its French heritage.

These new highways brought automotive tourists and their money to the communities along the roadways. During World War I, advocates of the Old Spanish Trail (and other national highways) promoted its importance as a military road, vital for national security and defense, anticipating Eisenhower's Interstate Highway system by several decades. In the 1920s, Harral B. Ayres, the Old Spainish Trail Association's director, encouraged the notion that the highway followed old Spanish roads, using the romance of the past to promote tourism.

The terrain the highway was to cover in the southeastern United States hampered construction - bridges were needed over the many rivers and swamps of the coastal South. The Old Spanish Trail was not completed until 1929, an event marked by a three-day celebration in St. Augustine, and the dedication of this commemorative marker (which since has been moved twice).

Each year, on the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May, Crestview, Florida, holds the Old Spanish Trail Festival. This year will be the event's 53rd anniversary, and is only 11 days from now!


The Story of the Old Spanish Trail, by Harral B. Ayres (Old Spanish Trail Centennial)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Welcome to the Waterdome Redux

I finally had a chance to see the Waterdome at Florida Southern College in action, nearly a year and a half after its rebirth! It was bluer and smaller than I expected, although a nearby sign detailed a schedule of when the fountain is off, at partial power, and full blast. We were there on a Saturday afternoon -- at least half the people we saw were like us - wandering around staring at the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Even though it has been a cool spring season, there's enough concrete and metal on that part of the campus to make a water feature like the fountain a welcome sight.

Welcome to the Waterdome (October 2007)

Frank Lloyd Wright Water Dome / Florida Southern College

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rodriguez-Avero-Sanchez House in St. Augustine

Here is the Rodriguez-Avero-Sanchez House at 52 St. George Street in St. Augustine. The first rooms of this house were built sometime around 1760 or 1761. In 1761 it was the home of a former member of the Spanish garrison, a Galician named Fernando Rodriguez. When he died in 1762, Antonia de Avero inherited the property. Over the years, the house passed from one owner to another - some British, some Spanish, some members of the Avero family, some not. Between 1791 and 1802, Juan Sanchez built the two-story coquina-block portion of the house that fronts onto St. George Street today.

The National Park Service's Historic American Building Survey documented the Rodriguez-Avero-Sanchez House in the 1960s, providing a detailed history of the house and a description of the building. The HABS documentation includes 1960 photographs of the house before its restoration as well as 1965 "after" images.

The 1965 images of the Rodriguez-Avero-Sanchez House were taken by Jack Boucher, whose career as a photographer for the Historic American Building Survey is featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Common Ground. Common Ground is a free publication of the National Park Service.