Robert Harper, Memorial Presbyterian honored
SAINT AUGUSTINE Recently, community members and the City of St. Augustine were recognized during historic preservation conferences with awards of excellence.
This week, the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC) hosts the biennial conference called FORUM 2020 Preservation Coast to Coast as a virtual conference based in Tacoma, Washington. Serving as an advocate at all levels of government, this national organization was founded in 1983 to provide educational and training programs as well as technical support to help local governments accomplish their preservation goals.
The St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) was honored on Aug.5, with a Commission Excellence Award. Selected from a large pool of nominations from across the country, these awards recognize and honor outstanding efforts and achievements by local preservation, historic district, and landmark commissions and boards of architectural review. The award is in the category of Best Practices in Protection for the development of the city’s historic preservation master plan. The master plan addresses sea level rise, development pressure and the impact of tourism on the city’s historic resources. St. Augustine’s plan is a model for its depth, scope, and carefully conceived strategies to address the threats to the city’s historic resources.
St. Augustine’s Historic Preservation Officer, Jenny Wolfe said, “On behalf of the City of St. Augustine and the HARB we are grateful for this honorable recognition which is the result of the cooperation, insight, and opinions of the folks in our community that participated in the surveys, workshops, and public comment opportunities, the teamwork of city staff, and the leadership of our city administration.”
Last week, during the Preservation on Main Street conference co-hosted by the Florida Trust and the Florida Main Street program, two St. Augustine community members were recognized by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.
The most significant award bestowed by the Florida Trust is the Legacy Award which honored the career of Robert W. Harper. A fourth generation Floridian, Harper has been a tireless advocate for historic preservation in his native state, using his skills and influence to lobby for and promote historic preservation in north and central Florida. For more than 20 years, he served as executive director for the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine where, under his leadership, over $5 million was raised through grants and donations to further the preservation and restoration of the historic Alcazar Hotel. Strictly adhering to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, many of the projects overseen by Harper, including restoration of the terracotta spires, Grand Ballroom, historic pool and museum lobby, received statewide and national recognition and awards.
Invested in seeing quality preservation work completed, Bob has also served as a consultant for individuals, public museums and historic sites. More recently, Bob lobbied and worked with City of St. Augustine staff to restore historic wrought iron lighting and gates.
In the category of Restoration and Rehabilitation, St. Augustine’s Memorial Presbyterian Church was honored. The church is part of a National Register Historic District and in 2012 was recognized by CNN as one of the eight religious wonders to see in the United States. The church was built by Henry Morrison Flagler in 1890 in memory of his daughter, Jennie, who died following childbirth. Flagler donated the church, parsonage and land to the congregation in memory of his daughter. After his death in 1913, Flagler was also interred in the church mausoleum.
The historic church was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and the 127-year old church exterior was deteriorated from age and atmospheric conditions. Church exterior restorations were completed in 2019 at a cost of close to $2 million. The restoration work was funded by church contributions, a $500,000 Division of Historical Resources grant and a Kenan Trust grant. Outstanding church restorations were designed and led by Kenneth Smith Architects and Atlantic Engineering Services and completed by A. D. Davis Construction Corp.
To view the full list of the Florida Preservation Awards, please visit:
For more information about the City’s Historic Preservation program, contact Jenny Wolfe, Historic Preservation Officer, at 904.209.4326.
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