Florida's Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan 2012–2016


Comprehensive Perservation

Like the rest of the country, Florida has been challenged by the nation's recent economic struggles. As Florida is faced with the need to create thousands of new jobs, the state's preservation community has an opportunity to spotlight one of the major benefits of historic preservation. As Donovan Rypkema, a nationally recognized expert on historic preservation, points out,

A frequently under appreciated component of historic buildings is their role as natural incubators of small businesses . . . 85% of all net new jobs are created by firms employing less than 20 people. One of the few costs firms of that size can control is occupancy costs/rents. In both downtowns, but especially in neighborhood commercial districts a major contribution to the local economy is the relative affordability of older buildings. (Donovan Rypkema, "Sustainability and Historic Preservation," unpaged).

The need to preserve our physical environment is widely acknowledged. Recent studies have shown that the preservation of historic buildings also benefits our communities environmentally. "Green," sustainable buildings have become a catchword in recent years: "The greenest building is the one that is already built." Donovan Rypkema stated that "Historic preservation is, in and of itself, sustainable development" (Annual Conference of Historic Districts Council in New York City on March 10, 2007, "Sustainability, Smart Growth and Historic Preservation"). Historic Preservation benefits our physical environment, but it also enhances our cultural environment. By preserving our archaeological, folk, and built environment, we will, for ourselves and for those who visit Florida, reinforce who we are as Floridians. As our world gets smaller and smaller through the ease of travel and virtually instantaneous communication, globalization threatens to destroy our distinct cultural identities. Rypkema, quotes Belinda Yua of Singapore as saying, "…influences of globalization have fostered the rise of heritage conservation as a growing need to preserve the past, both for continued economic growth and for strengthening national cultural identity" ("Sustainability and Historic Preservation"" talk). What is true for nations is true for states, and the preservation of who we are as Floridians begins with an appreciation of our local histories and historical and cultural resources. Two studies, the 2010 update of the Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation in Florida and the Contributions of Historic Preservation to the Quality of Life in Florida, issued in November 2006, amply show that these assertions hold true in Florida.

Viva Florida

In 2011, through the American Latino Heritage Initiative, the United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar called for states to take a more proactive role in recognizing their Hispanic heritage. His call came just as the Florida Department of State and its many partners were planning events and experiences to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's 1513 landing in Florida. The initiative, VIVA Florida 500, will recognize the cultural phenomenon that began when Ponce and his crew came ashore on Florida's east coast and named it La Florida. The event is a milestone unlike any other in the history of the United States, for Ponce's convoy of explorers was the first group of Europeans to document such a landing, and the first recorded Europeans to explore any part of what is now the United States of America.

  • In 2013, Florida will commemorate Viva Florida 500—the state's 500th anniversary—marked from 1513 when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed on Florida's east coast. This historic occasion provides us with an opportunity to place the Florida story in context and to expand the narrative of American history to include its Spanish colonial past . . .
  • This commemoration will celebrate the diverse multicultural state that Florida has been from the start. And we will not forget the perspective from the shore—the indigenous native tribes who made this peninsula home long before Europeans set foot on this continent. Thanks to an ever-increasing body of archaeological findings we now have fascinating insights into these pre-Columbian cultures. (Janine Farver, Florida Humanities Council, Forum Magazine, Vol. XXXV, No. 3, Fall 2011, Viva Florida Marking 500 years of Spanish heritage)

Florida's documented material history dates back more than 12,000 years earlier to American Indians, who were the original pioneers. But Spain's claim in 1513 began a new era in human history that saw many nationalities come together as the foundation that eventually formed the United States of America. Today, a countless number of different cultures thrive together in Florida. Viva Florida 500 will celebrate all of them and their impact on the history of Florida.

It is clear that now is the time for Florida's historic preservationists to harness their collective power to advance the cause of historic preservation in the state.

Why Have a Statewide Historic Preservation Plan?

Planning is an invaluable tool to identify the major issues that affect preservation efforts around the state. The funding of preservation projects, resource protection, public education, and increased intergovernmental coordination are just a few of the many issues facing Florida's preservationists today. The primary purpose of Florida's historic preservation plan is to provide guidance for the implementation of sound planning procedures for the location, identification, and protection of the state's archaeological and historic resources.

Planning uses many tools, including economic and demographic analysis, natural and cultural resource evaluation, goal setting, and strategic planning. The development and implementation of a sound, well-coordinated comprehensive preservation plan should assist Florida's preservation organizations in their efforts to protect the state's rapidly dwindling historic and archaeological resources.

Planning is most effective when developed in response to the needs of the citizens of the state, and public participation is essential. At each stage, there must be active public involvement in developing the vision, issues, and objectives of the plan and in helping to achieve its goals. It is also necessary to understand changes that are affecting the state as a whole so that preservation programs can be designed to respond in the most effective manner.