Protecting History is ….. History!

     The Broward Trust for Historic Preservation, the only organized group fighting to save some of Fort Lauderdale’s most important historic structures, is calling it quits!

     Their leader, long time historic activist Diane Smart, confirmed today that the organization would go dark on December 31st, the last day of the city’s 100th birthday .

                                                        preserved 1939 Fort Lauderdale Beach

     The group was successful over the last few decades in saving many important historic buildings in Fort Lauderdale, including the brokering of a deal with a beach developer to save the Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, the first big hotel on the beach (pictured above). The deal saved the front portion of the structure, but allowed the rear portion to be built into one of the beach’s new mega-hotels.

     Their latest success in preservation was the relocation of the Annie Beck House, a turn of the century bungalow owned by two of Fort Lauderdale’s most famous residents, Annie and Alfred Beck. Annie started the first garden club, and Alfred was one of the first pharmacists. 

      The famous Beck house had been moved off of Las Olas a few blocks, some decades ago, to accommodate redevelopment, but faced the wrecking ball again, when the off Las Olas location was also to be redeveloped.

     Former Commissioner Tim Smith ( that’s me – picture at the top , suggested they move the historic gem to Middle River Terrace Park, where it sits today. The House has been completely renovated by the Trust, who planned on locating their offices there and offering meeting space to area non – profits. The Trust must now try and secure the house’s long term fate now that they are going out of business.   

       The Trust ” never got large enough” to be viable, says Former Commissioner John Aurelius, who is credited with restoring ( and opening for tours), one of the City’s oldest Fire Stations, Station 8, in the historic neighborhood of Sailboat Bend.

Aurelius says the City has made ” grave mistakes” in dealing with it’s history, but says in today’s economy, other priorities will take place “like making sure our sewers work!”.

                                former Aurelius with current Roberts at St. Pats parade
     Commissioner Rodstrom,
who says the dissolving of the Broward Trust concerns her, also says that today’s economy ” is hitting all levels, including historic preservation”.

                                                         Commissioner Rodstrom

     Smart, who has been the biggest voice for preservation for quite some time, sounds angry about the Trust’s fate. She says she is “disappointed” that the City and County have canceled their preservation efforts, not funding the professional experts needed to save the important history before it is all gone.
She says the Trust “cannot function without that professional assistance”.

     Smart says the Jolly Roger hotel on the beach is a ” huge loose end”, that will probably be lost. The Trust had been working to save the nautical front portion of the building in much the same way that the Lauderdale Beach Hotel was saved. She fears it, and many other important parts of our history are doomed ( like the “McCrory’s Five and Dime” downtown, and the Sheraton Yankee Clipper on the beach.)

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