Florida's Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan 2012–2016

Florida's Resources, An Assessment

Florida's historic resources reflect the long and varied history of settlement here. Among the notable examples are the Paleoindian Page/Ladson Site in Jefferson County, dating from 10,000-7,500 B.C.; the Archaic Windover Site near Titusville, which dates from 5,500 B.C.; Crystal River Indian Mounds (500 B.C. – A.D. 200); Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, constructed between 1672 and 1696 and the oldest masonry fort in the United States; the Town of Eatonville, established in 1887 as the first all-black incorporated town in Florida; Florida's Historic Capitol, restored to its 1902 configuration; Miami Beach Art Deco Architectural District, a world renowned tourist destination; and Kennedy Space Center, site of U.S. manned space flights and the launches that put Americans on the moon.

Such outstanding historic and cultural resources give Florida its extraordinary identity. Historic resources are buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts that are significant to the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture of a local community, the state of Florida, or the entire country. The Florida Master Site File (FMSF) is the state's inventory and archive of information on archaeological sites, including underwater cultural heritage such as shipwrecks, cultural landscapes, and historical standing buildings and structures. The FMSF identifies whether an area has been inventoried for cultural resources, what resources are recorded in particular areas, and which officially-evaluated resources are considered historically significant. As of 2011, the Florida Master Site File has recorded over 187,000 resources. The number of new recordings added to the FMSF has seen an overall decline since 2006, reinforcing the fact that there is a strong correlation between the health of the state economy and preservation activity. Over the last five years, Florida has added over 100 National Register.

Highlights of those listings include numerous historical archaeological sites. Among them were two submissions for British Period properties: the multiple property submission (MPS) for Archaeological Resources of the 18th-Century Smyrnea Settlement of Dr. Andrew Turnbull and 12 related nominations (1766–1777) in New Smyrna Beach; and Three Chimneys Archaeological Site (ca. 1770–1783) in Volusia County. Another historical archaeological listing is the Etna Turpentine Camp (ca. 1898–1926) in Citrus County. Letchworth Mounds Archaeological Site, from the Middle-Late Woodland Period (AD 200–900), in Jefferson County, was the only National Register listing from Florida's prehistoric period.

Recent Past

Florida has many significant resources dating from the recent past, due in large part to the huge growth in population that the state experienced after World War II. Many communities were established during that time, and in the 1950s and 1960s, many neighborhoods were created or simply expanded as Mid-Century Modern homes and commercial buildings were constructed. Because of the large number of such resources, preservationists have wrestled with defining criteria for evaluating these resources, particularly what level of integrity is necessary to be considered eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Miami Modern, or "MiMo" is a relatively new term coined by a local preservationist and interior designer that refers to the very unique interpretation of mid-century tropical architecture that is found in Miami, Miami Beach and the environs. While the preservation of mid century architecture is happening all around the country, the resort vernacular that the style morphed into here in south Florida has practically exploded in popularity recently . . .
—Success cited in survey

Listings of properties from the recent past (mid-20th century) have started to come forward in ever-increasing numbers. In response to this trend, the University of Florida sponsored a public workshop, "Evaluating Resources from the Recent Past," held in Gainesville, November 6-9, 2008, and issued a white paper by the same title. The paper addresses the issues involved in evaluating and nominating these special properties. Significant examples of recent past listings in Florida include the Lucien Nielsen House (1956), which was listed as part of a Sarasota School of Architecture Multiple Property Submission; the Lincoln Road Mall (1960) in Miami Beach; Vedado Historic District (1924-1927, 1946-1956) in West Palm Beach; and the Fontainebleau Hotel (1953-1958) in Miami Beach. With each mid-century nomination, preservationists at the state and local levels have gained a better understanding of how to evaluate these resources. The State Historic Preservation Office has begun the development of a Multiple Property Submission cover for Mid-Century Modern homes. When completed, that tool, as well as the Sarasota School MPS mentioned above, will provide a guide for local communities in how to evaluate their communities, and how National Register listings for recent past properties can and should be pursued. In addition to residential properties, Mid-Century Modern schools, many representing the Sarasota School of Architecture, are threatened with demolition. More needs to be done to educate the public and school board officials about the architectural significance of many of these schools.

Historic Landscapes

A few Florida rural landscapes are listed the National Register, primarily farms or ranches, but agricultural farmland, cattle pastureland, and horse farms and groves, particularly in Central Florida, continue to be threatened. According to the Florida Statistical Abstract for 2010, from 2002 to 2007, the number of large farms (50–2,000 acres in size) fell 51.4 percent, though the number of small farms (0–49 acres) rose by 31.3 percent.

Over the last five years, landscapes were recognized by the listing of the formal Cummer Gardens (1903–1958) in Jacksonville; several rural landscapes, such as the Billingsly Farm (1889–1957) in Leon County; and the John Nolen Plan for the Venice Historic District (1926), the nation's first 20th century town plan to gain registration.

Urbanization and Suburbanization

The continuing physical expansion of Florida's communities contributes to the loss of rural areas. Many citrus groves that were destroyed by freezes, insect infestations, and disease have been converted into rolling hills of rooftops. In the last five years, 16 urban historic districts were listed in the National Register. About half of them reflect the growth and expansion of suburbs, a trend that gained strength beginning in the 1920s; only in the last few years has there been great interest in returning to our core urban areas. Examples of those listings include the districts of North City and Nelmar Terrace in St. Augustine, Normandy Isles in Miami Beach, Rosemere in Orlando, and Prospect Park in West Palm Beach The other half of those listings represent downtown commercial districts, such as those listed in Winter Park, Homestead, Boca Grande, and the Upper North Franklin Commercial District in Tampa. Movements back to cities and a desire for vital downtowns sometimes lead to the demolition of historic building stock, but the establishment of more Main Street programs and stronger local preservation programs, especially the designation of more active Certified Local Governments, could help prevent unnecessary demolitions. More surveys need to be conducted to identify significant resources, especially in smaller communities. Special attention needs to be given to ethnic resources. The need for these activities is borne out of a statewide survey of local governments funded by a grant from the Division of Historical Resources to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

We need to help people appreciate the historical resources we have, or at least help people understand the importance of historical resources.

Not everyone like[s] certain styles, etc., but if people understand that the [design] guidelines, etc. are not out to get them, I think there could be more successful projects.

More proactive measures to combat demo by neglect [are needed]. Educate/work with property owners—get them to "buy into" preservation.
—Comments from survey

In 2007, the Florida Public Archaeology Network conducted a survey of local governments for the Florida Trust. The resulting study, Local Government Preservation Program Directory (LGPPD), shows that despite the State's planning policy, the implementation of historic preservation practices is uneven across the state, with North Florida cities reporting a higher level of historic preservation policy in place, in terms of the use of historic preservation language included in their local comprehensive plans, and the existence of historic preservation ordinances. A statewide view of these two measures, however, shows that fewer than half of the cities that responded have any sort of historic preservation policies in place.


Local Preservation Lanquage
North Florida South Florida Statewide
Total number of cities responding 112 164 276
Have Historic Preservation Language 54
Do not have Historic Preservation Language 37
Don't know 21

Local Preservation Ordinance
North Florida South Florida Statewide
Total number of cities responding 107 168 275
Have Historic Preservation Language 60
Do not have Historic Preservation Language 47

The fact that over 20% of the respondents were not aware of whether their comprehensive plan included historic preservation language is further enlightened by the surveyor's finding that "most of the counties use the Florida Master Site File; however, only a little over half of cities use, or even know about, the Site File records maintained by the Division of Historical Resources. . ." In local jurisdictions throughout the state of Florida, some language exists for historic preservation but it is often vague and many of the individuals interviewed have little or no knowledge of this area of their comprehensive plan.

Eighty-seven cities indicate their ordinances are online, while 44 state that their ordinances are not available through online resources. Interested individuals can obtain, for a fee, copies of the ordinances through their local City Hall or Chamber of Commerce (p. 18, LGPPD). Several contacts were unable to recall when the ordinances were enacted or how often the ordinances are updated.

Based on these results, the study concluded that "communication between planners, clerks, and others involved in Historic Preservation programs and ordinances seems to be limited and many of the individuals have little knowledge of how to proceed in strengthening historic preservation in their area." The study strongly recommended improved education of city and county planners, managers, clerks, or others involved in historic preservation, specifically in a series of small workshops. Also recommended was the availability of model ordinances, and a means to communicate better with one another on a statewide basis, (e.g., website or live chat). Basic education about historic preservation was also seen as a need. "Educational outreach to explain what qualifies as a cultural resource is a necessary first step for several cities and counties. Increased knowledge of the state's existing historic preservation programs and resources, such as the Master Site File, will assist cities and counties in understanding what historic sites exist and perhaps how better to define such areas within their jurisdictions" (p. 25, LGPPD).

There is also a need to provide information on possible sources of funding, and for better cooperative preservation efforts between cities and their counties.

Overall, the state of historic preservation ordinances in Florida encompasses a broad spectrum. Some counties and cities have almost no programs in place with few, if any, ordinances on paper. These areas often cite a lack of interest in historic preservation and indicate that few historic sites exist within their jurisdiction, thus obviating the need for any form of regulation. Other areas strongly support historic preservation and emphasize the possibilities of heritage tourism as an important aspect of the economy of their area (p. 25, LGPPD).

It is clear that Florida's local historic preservation programs need to be strengthened through providing better education of local officials and a willingness on their part to develop and implement good historic preservation planning practices. This will greatly benefit efforts to preserve Florida's urban and suburban historical resources.

African-American Resources

The significance of Florida's African-American-related resources has been recognized since the early 1970s, with the listing of Olustee Battlefield in which U.S. Colored Troops played a significant role in the defeat of Union troops during the Civil War. Today there are 94 listings in the National Register related to Florida's black history, five of which were added in the last five years: Jackson Rooming House (1905–1957) in Tampa; St. Rita's Colored Catholic Mission (1899–1924, 1956–1969) in New Smyrna Beach; Holden-Parramore Historic District (1921–1953) in Orlando; A. Quinn Jones House (1925–1957) in Gainesville; and the Women's Working Band House (1921–1950) in Tallahassee. These resources represent the wide range of contributions African Americans made to the religious, educational, and economic development and character of Florida, often under trying conditions. Educational facilities and institutions are usually included in community surveys.

A multiple property submission cover, however, exists for Florida's Historic Black Public Schools. Among Florida's historic black schools are ones that were constructed in the 1920s with support from the Rosenwald Fund. Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., established the fund in 1917 to support the sorely needed construction of school facilities for African American school children. Most facilities were built in the South. Florida's first "Rosenwald School" was built in 1921; 147 education buildings were constructed in Florida with Rosenwald Fund assistance by 1932, the year Rosenwald died. A recent survey of Florida's Rosenwald schools shows that only 26 of Florida's Rosenwald schools remain. National Register nominations should be completed for the ones that retain their historic architectural integrity.

In 2006, Congress designated the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor or National Heritage Area. A national heritage area is "a place where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally-distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. These areas tell nationally important stories about our nation and are representations of the national experience through both the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved within them." Currently, there are 49 of these areas in the United States. The Gullah/Geechee tradition was "first shaped by captive Africans brought to the southern United States from West Africa and continued in later generations by their descendants." This corridor is unique in that it crosses state lines, including "sea island" areas from Wilmington, North Carolina, south to Duval County, Florida, capturing Florida's Gullah/Geechee communities in the coastal regions of the Amelia Island and Jacksonville areas. The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission includes scholars and citizen representatives from each of the four participating states. The Commission's primary responsibility is to develop and implement a management plan for the corridor

The Division's Florida Black Heritage Trail publication is a very popular tool for finding historic African-American sites to visit, and has been instrumental in helping to bring visitors to Florida. In 2011, the Association of African American Museums, in conjunction with the John G. Riley House and Museum (headquarters of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network) held its annual convention in Tallahassee, and provided another national spotlight for Florida's important black resources. More needs to be done to engage Florida's African Americans in the importance of preserving resources related to their history and culture, to highlight their contributions to the state, and to broaden the scope of their preservation efforts in Florida.

Hispanic Resources

Florida also has many National Register listings related to its Spanish heritage. Most of them are archaeological sites dating from the First Spanish Period (1513–1763), primarily consisting of the remains of shipwrecks of Spanish plate fleets or the 17th century Catholic missions that once spread from St. Augustine to Tallahassee. Most nineteenth-century Hispanic heritage sites relate to Spanish and Cuban cigar makers who were primarily in Key West and Tampa. The Division's Florida Cuban Heritage Trail publication identifies many sites related to Florida's Cuban heritage. Florida's modern Hispanic period is probably best represented by the Freedom Tower (El Refugio), a National Historic Landmark building in Miami that served Cuban refugees who fled Cuba beginning in 1959. As the more recent Hispanic resources "come of age" this important aspect of Florida's history and heritage will be better represented in Florida's National Register listings. Awareness of Florida's Hispanic heritage has been enhanced with the recent publication of the Spanish Colonial Heritage Trail.


Florida transportation resources need constant attention, in terms of maintenance, or for necessary upgrades to meet the demands of a growing population. Street widening sometimes threatens historic commercial corridors (often in historic downtowns) of small communities, such as Milton in Santa Rosa County and Newberry in Alachua County. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has long been a strong partner in the effort to preserve Florida's historical resources while meeting its responsibility to ensure the safety of the state's travelers. In 2004, FDOT published a bridge survey; an update of it is in production.

Since 2003, the FDOT has used a process designed to streamline the review of an increased level of service made possible through FDOT's funding of positions that are dedicated to the review of FDOT projects. As part of the ETDM process, the FDOT has also implemented the Environmental Screening Tool, an internet-accessible database, to facilitate and organize agency comments and consultation regarding cultural and historical resources throughout the planning process.

Initially termed "streamlining" in response to Section 1309 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21), the FDOT process redefines how the State of Florida will accomplish transportation planning and project development within its current statutes and regulations. The ETDM Process creates linkages between land use, transportation, environmental and cultural resource planning initiatives through early, interactive agency involvement, which facilitates improved decisions and greatly reduces the time, effort, and cost to effect transportation decisions. Efficiency is gained by two screening events and an efficient permitting and consultation process built into the current transportation planning and project development process. These screenings are performed by an Environmental Technical Advisory Team (ETAT). The ETAT consists of planning, consultation, and resource protection agencies participating in the program.

Participation by the Division of Historical Resources is made possible through a series of three agreements executed with the FDOT, Florida Highway Administration, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. These include a Master Agreement (MA), an Agency Operating Agreement (AOA), and a Funding Agreement (FA) which provides for three fulltime staff in the Division's new Transportation Compliance Review Program that have the responsibility to coordinate transportation reviews within the agency and assure compliance with all applicable historic preservation regulations. DHR now provides an increased level of service made possible through these agreements. Our staff provides agency response to the transportation planning entities (the FDOT and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO). This response is advisory during the early phases of transportation planning and transitions as a project proceeds from planning to project development. The ETAT member's role then shifts to coordination within the agency to issue an opinion or conduct consultation should historic resources be affected by the proposed project.

As part of the ETDM process, the FDOT has implemented an Internet-accessible interactive database tool called the Environmental Screening Tool (EST) to facilitate and organize agency comment and consultation regarding cultural and historic resources throughout the process.

The Florida SHPO's review under this program has been highly effective and has resulted in the identification of resources that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. This ETDM Process creates linkages between land use, transportation, environmental, and cultural resource planning initiatives through early, interactive agency involvement, which facilitates improved decisions and greatly reduces the time, effort, and cost to effect transportation decisions. Participation by the Division of Historical Resources in this review process provides for three fulltime staff in the DHR's Transportation Compliance Review Program who have the responsibility to coordinate transportation reviews within the agency and assure compliance with all applicable historic preservation regulations. With formal participation by DHR beginning in October 2003, the Division has been able to provide an increased level of service, saving contractors time and money and better insuring the identification of important historical and archaeological resources that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

The state has an established Multiple Property Submission for Florida's Historic Railroad Resources, and another cover for canals and roads still in the process of development. The completion of that cover should be a goal within the next five years.


Religious resources are usually included in community surveys, but a number of churches with architectural and/or historical significance have been listed in the National Register or identified in one of the state's Heritage Trails (e.g., Black Heritage Trail and Jewish Heritage Trail). Religious facilities affiliated with other ethnic groups need to be identified and at least recorded in the Florida Master Site File. Cemeteries in Florida are protected by law, but there is no program to identify or protect them. There needs to be more public education concerning protections afforded cemeteries and human burials. Listings of religious-related resources in the past five years include: St. Rita's Colored Catholic Mission in New Smyrna Beach, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pensacola, the First Methodist Church in Oviedo, and the First Baptist Church in Boca Grande in Lee County, Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Maitland, and Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, as well as religious facilities included in districts.


With over 8,000 statute miles of tidal shoreline, for thousands of years, Floridians have lived and worked on the coast, and have left a legacy of remains and reminders of our past. In 2000, the Bureau of Archaeological Research, with support from the Florida Department of Community Affairs, the Florida Coastal Management Program, and funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published Florida's Maritime Heritage Trail. The trail is a series of six map-like brochures that focus on: Coastal Communities, Coastal Environments, Coastal Forts, Historic Ports, Historic Shipwrecks, and Historic Lighthouses. Some of these resources have been the focus of further study and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 2002, a Multiple Property Submission cover (MPS) was created for Florida's Historic Lighthouses. Of the 30 lighthouses identified, over half have been listed in the National Register, some in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard.

Numerous shipwrecks dating from early Spanish exploration, such as the Emanuel Point Shipwreck in Pensacola Bay and to nearly entire Spanish plate fleets that sank off the east coast on their way back to Spain, to more recent military vessels and freighters, have also been listed in the National Register. Some such as the City of Hawkinsville steamboat and Civil War transport steamboat Maple Leaf, are in rivers. Many of these resources are maintained as underwater preserves, accessible to scuba and skin divers, as well as virtual divers who visit the BAR's website, "Museums Under the Sea." More needs to be done to identify significant historical resources related to Florida's historic ports and coastal communities.


Florida has been the site of numerous military operations over the course of its recorded 500-year history of European and American settlement, and includes archaeological sites or standing resources remaining from the American Revolution, Seminole Wars, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and even the Cold War. Florida's Maritime Heritage Trail features the state's historic coastal forts, such as Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys, Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West, Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, the remains of Fort St. Marcos de Apalache on the central north Gulf Coast, and Fort Barrancas in Pensacola. There are also heritage trail publications that identify Florida's Civil War and World War II resources. In addition to the Florida World War II Heritage Trail, an existing MPS for World War II sites is in place, and one for Seminole War resources is underway. Even so, more needs to be done to document our military history, including the clandestine efforts of the Cold War, many of which are just now coming to light.

Recreation and Tourism

Florida has been a place of wonder for people since the first explorers wrote of their experiences, beginning in the 16th century. Its allure remains today, and tourism is a vital part of the state's economy.

Archaeological evidence shows that Florida's many natural springs have drawn people since prehistoric times (e.g., Little Salt Springs, Warm Mineral Springs, and Wakulla Springs). Florida's springs later became tourist attractions, drawing people who sought their "healing" waters. The remains of nineteenth and early twentieth-century spring houses attest to the popularity of this once-thriving industry (e.g., White Springs, Hampton Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Green Cove Springs).

As railroads and paved roads were built across the state, Florida became more and more accessible for new residents and visitors. Winter visitors soon became a major boon to the economy, and spas, resorts and special attractions became a regular part of the Florida experience. St. Augustine's Alligator Farm (listed in the National Register in 1992) is the longest-lived tourist attraction in the state, and St. Augustine continues to draw millions of tourists every year.

Many of Florida's "old Florida" attractions have vanished from the landscape in the wake of the opening of Disney World in 1971, and the construction of new highways that either destroyed or bypassed many old roadside attractions. Some of surviving "old time" attractions are now under the management of local governments, or have become state parks, such as Weeki Wachee Springs, located north of Tampa. In urban areas, hotels have often been demolished in order to meet modern standards of comfort. The City of Miami Beach, however, largely due to the federal income tax credit for rehabilitation, has become a world destination for its concentration of hotels, motels, and apartments designed in the Art Deco, Moderne, and more recently, Miami Modern styles.

More efforts, such as the 2011 listing of the Parrot Jungle in the National Register of Historic Places, need to be focused on such historic tourism resources. Other types of recreational resources should also be identified, such as historic golf courses, jai-alai frontons, lawn bowling clubs, and racing facilities.


Historically, there has been relatively little industry in Florida, as agriculture and tourism have long been the staples of Florida's economy. A few resources related to the timber and naval stores industry have been identified and listed in the National Register (e.g., Etna Turpentine Camp Archaeological Site). Evidence of the processing of indigo, rice, and sugar are present in the colonial archaeological record. More surveys need to be done to identify resources related to Florida industries, such as the abandoned shade tobacco barns of central north Florida and seafood processing facilities along Florida's coast, perhaps in conjunction with the Florida Folklife Program.


The history of the state is also preserved in Florida's traditional culture or folklife. Florida folklife include ways of making objects, such as maritime and ranching equipment, domestic and decorative items, religious and festival arts, and musical instruments; beliefs and customs; traditional occupations; music and dance; celebrations; and narrative traditions. The individuals who practice these folk arts are often greatly admired in their communities. Their creative work facilitates the accomplishment of practical tasks, while expressing group values and aesthetics.

The Florida Folklife Program is unique in that it is closely linked with the state historic preservation program rather than the state arts program. This relationship makes it particularly suited to helping us understand and appreciate our multicultural heritage both past and present.

Several important places associated with Florida's diverse folk cultural heritage include Tarpon Springs, which has the world's largest concentration of Greeks outside of Greece; and fishing communities along Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts that contain historical resources demonstrating the commercial fishing industry's important role in Florida's development over the centuries. Cattle ranches provide an opportunity to recognize not only a significant type of rural landscape in Florida, but also a way of life that remains a vital part of the state's economy. Many immigrants, such as those from Cuba, Haiti, and other parts of the Caribbean basin; Latin America; and Asia continue to come to Florida. More work needs to be done to identify and evaluate their contributions to Florida's cultural heritage, past and present.

As Florida's economy improves, it is anticipated that recordings in the Florida Master Site File and listings in the National Register will return to their usual levels, if not exceed them. Renewed efforts will likely result in an increase in the listings of prehistoric archaeological sites, mid-century architecture and development, cultural landscapes, and properties related to Florida's many cultural groups, with an emphasis on the diversity of Florida's resources as part of the VIVA Florida 500 statewide commemoration.