Henry Flagler deserves better. The last remnant of his influence on Miami’s development is a yellow clapboard house that has fallen into disrepair behind a locked fence on a riverfront lot, vacant for eight years. The 1897-vintage house could stand as a historical tribute to the man known as the “Father of Miami” who built the Florida East Coast Railway all the way to Key West. Instead, it’s becoming an eyesore. “Without Flagler there would be no Miami metropolis today,” said Christine Rupp, executive director of the Dade Heritage Trust. “Yet the last structure that has any connection to him is abandoned and endangered.”
Did humans and mammoths live together in Florida 10,000 years ago? “I’m here to set the record straight,” said Texas A&M doctoral student Morgan Smith. Smith and the team began working on the site in the summer of 2014. They have worked for two weeks every summer since and plan to continue next year. Mammoth fossils have been found in other areas of the river and it is known as a mammoth graveyard. “There’s so much here,” Smith said.
Two old houses in Titusville were in grave danger of perishing before Blake Brandon stepped in. Were it not for Brandon, a broker at Discovery Realty in Mims, and the support of the City of Titusville, the houses at 715 Tropic St. and nearby 426 Canaveral St. would surely have been razed. “These once vibrant neighborhoods have wonderful, salvageable historic structures that stand as testaments to the past,” said Roz Foster, founder and president of North Brevard Heritage Foundation, which has a contract with the city to operate and maintain the pristine and historic Pritchard House, where Foster is director and curator.
Just in time for hurricane season, a lecture on the history of some of the biggest storms in South Florida. HistoryMiami Museum will look back on those disasters with a discussion led by local historian Dr. Paul George at 7 p.m. July 20 at the museum, 101 W. Flagler. St., Miami. George will talk about Hurricane Andrew and the devastating storms from 1926. He also chronicle each step of the storm, from preparation and strike to the aftermath and recovery.
Some communities are fortunate to have historical structures adorable enough to hug. Cocoa Village, for example, has the Historic Derby Street Chapel, a cute-as-a-button, hardworking little building featured prominently in many lives during its long history. “It’s just so quaint and sweet,” said Ginger Tate, president of the group of 20 volunteers who lovingly care for the 101-year-old building at the corner of Brevard Ave. and Derby St.
The pink flamingo is just about 60 years old. Yes, the plastic lawn ornament was actually created by someone; designer Don Featherstone to be exact, during his second year on the job at Union Products. Jennifer Price gives a “natural history” of this culturally over-determined object’s rise to camp icon. Lawn ornamentation has a long history. Prehistoric Greeks decorated gardens with statues of the well-endowed Greek god Priapus to promote fertility, scare birds away, and potentially to threaten the sexual violation of trespassers. Price begins her lawn ornament survey in the more decorous early 1800s, focusing on the invention of taste. “Taste, you could say, is a style of consumerism. It is also a statement of identity […] Taste was, to some degree, an upper-class injunction to restraint that cautioned the new consumers not to presume to be truly wealthy.”
Bad weather rocked the Southwest Airlines flight from Havana to Tampa. It was Havana artist Marian Valdes’ first ever trip to the United States — a scary prospect by itself. Turbulence made it more frightening, she said. Then she arrived and was greeted with a hug by her host Tracy Reller. “I felt comfortable and welcome,” Valdes said. “Now I want to stay longer.”Valdes had been in Tampa just minutes and she had already accomplished one goal of her visit — to help bring Tampa and Havana artists closer together.
Bubbling with excitement, creative energy and a sense of purpose, the small army of students burst into a classroom at Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School to begin their day. They chant and sing: Something inside so strong, I know that I can make it. The crescendo builds as the youngsters and teachers break away from the Labi Siffre-lyric and segue into a call-and-response, showering praise on themselves, a teacher or fellow student, with “I HAVE a recognition ….” This is how every day starts for the 80 students enrolled in the six-week North Florida Freedom Schools camp at FAMU DRS. This throwback to the Civil Rights era is one of three Freedom Schools in the region designed to ensure students maintain their reading and other learning gains over the long summer vacation. “The focus is on reading but our whole emphasis is on celebrating the whole child and trying to help them reach their potential,” said Alysia Roehrig, associate professor in the Florida State University College of Education and research director of the North Florida Freedom Schools.
Featured Image: Henry Flagler in Key West. Courtesy of Florida Keys–Public Libraries.