By the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation
The initiative highlights endangered historic sites throughout Florida
and is an important step in advocating for their preservation.
(August 1, 2023) The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced that the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has been added to the 2023 Florida’s 11 to Save, a list of the most threatened historic properties in the state. The initiative highlights endangered historic sites throughout Florida as nominated by the public and is an important step in advocating for their preservation. The announcement was made at the Preservation on Main Street Conference in Ocala on July 19. The 2023 11 to Save list represents endangered historic resources, covering hundreds of years of history and a variety of cultural resources. (The 2023 list of locations has not yet been officially announced.)
“These are the historic places that matter to people throughout our state,” says Erin DiFazio, program director for the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation (SAHP), “and we’re optimistically enthused that the Van Wezel has been recognized as a vital property to protect. We’re also pleased that the City of Sarasota is exploring future use options and storm surge protection measures for this iconic landmark.”
DiFazio explains that the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation is part of a consortium of groups and individuals that has been leading an effort to ensure that the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, celebrated by architectural historians and critics as a stunning example of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Architects, is preserved. SAHP listed the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on its Six to Save Endangered Buildings list in 2022.
Other participants in the efforts to preserve the performing arts hall include the Historical Society of Sarasota County and 2,500 Sarasota residents who signed the Save The Van Wezel petition.
Along with the recognition comes access to the 11 to Save Grant Fund which aims to make a tangible impact supporting historic sites on current or previous 11 to Save lists. Florida’s 11 to Save highlights endangered historic sites throughout Florida as nominated by the public and is an important step in advocating for their preservation.
The Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “Preserve and Enhance our Historic Places.” SAHP was incorporated in 1985 in an attempt to save architect Dwight Baum’s El Vernona Hotel in downtown Sarasota. The Alliance, a membership-driven organization, is comprised of more than 500 residents, visitors, artists, architects, engineers, historians, builders, archaeologists, Realtors, planners, designers, and writers working together to preserve and encourage others to preserve – not only the remaining significant landmarks – but also the contributing structures that define Sarasota County. For more information, visit www.PreserveSRQ.org.