May Is National Preservation Month

May is National Preservation Month and that holds a certain amount of significance for Palm Coast residents even though the city is only about 23 years old. That’s because our Historical Society has done a good job of accumulating and cataloging historical photos, documents and other information that traces back to the city’s origins in 1969.
The first National Preservation Week was suggested by Donald T. Sheehan, a member of the National Trust for Historical Preservation. It was first celebrated in 1973, from May 6 to May 12. In 2005 it was extended to a month to promote historic places and heritage tourism. Since then, communities across the nation celebrate the past by preserving it for the future.
This year the theme for the National Trust for Historical Preservation is “People Saving Places.” In Florida you can get involved with a different theme. As part of this year’s “Caring for Historic Cemeteries” theme, the Division of Historical Resources (DHR) is partnering with the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) to encourage Floridians to help locate and document historic cemeteries across the state. The goal of this initiative is to gather and maintain the most comprehensive information about historic cemeteries in Florida.
Currently, more than 237,000 cultural and historical sites are recorded in the Florida Master Site File, but only about 1,700 are cemeteries. Conservative estimates indicate that there are 5,000 to 7,000 historic cemeteries in the state that are over 50 years of age. This means that approximately three-quarters of the historic cemeteries in Florida have not been recorded. You can go to this website and learn more about how to participate.
By the 1960s, archaeologists estimated that in many parts of the country up to 90% of the prehistoric sites had been destroyed by development. In Palm Coast we are about to make it 100% if we lose sight of how important history is to our sense of community.
The City of Palm Coast is 23 years old, but the buildings first constructed in early 1970 would have met historic register criteria if they were still standing. There is one building left in the entire city. The remaining building, Firehouse #22, is in a familiar historic position. Soon a new fire station will be built, and the old fire house, where our first volunteer fire fighters ran when the alarm sounded, may be no more than a parking lot. The City Council has not yet decided to save it or condemn it. We say save it! In a few years the building will achieve the 50-year milestone for official historic criteria. Preserving history, customs, and the identity of our city is important.
And financially it makes sense. Over 88 million people visit historic sites each year. Heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing segments in the nation’s 350-billion-dollar tourism industry. Visiting heritage sites is ranked among the top 2 or 3 reasons people take vacations.  There are preserved sites in Flagler County. Visit them (see pictures) and our museums in Bunnell, Flagler Beach and Palm Coast this month to learn more about who came before us and enjoy our wonderful history and legacy.