The year 2018 was on the edge of being very exciting for the Port St. Lucie Historical Society as it moved toward having a permanent home, but very, very slowly. It was a year of discussions with city officials about what can and would be done, and these continue.
The excitement came from seeing two historic buildings from the Peacock Ranch be moved from their waiting spot on the city’s McCarty Ranch site to their new home on Westmoreland Boulevard next to the Botanical Gardens. At year’s end they had not yet been set on their final foundations.
While we realize it will be a while before the buildings are ready for occupancy, we plan to continue to work on agreements toward this goal in 2019.
Membership has continued to grow slowly thanks to increasing interest and a membership drive with added months and a chance to purchase our history book for $10.
As in the past, membership gatherings were held through the year to share tales of early life in PSL and before. Speakers in 2018 included Ted Burrows, retired long-time editorial writer for the Port St. Lucie News; Carol and Gregg Wyatt,owners of the first radio station registered to the city, WPSL: and Tracey Steele, who shared stories of growing up in Port St. Lucie.
The festive Holiday Gathering was a buffet and open bar at the Santa Lucia River Club at Ballantrae with door prizes and loads of good conversation. It was held, with the help of club manager and PSLHS board member Maria Bordonaro.
The society was on hand at all but one of the city-sponsored River Nights on the shores of the North Fork of the St. Lucie Boulevard to share a bit of history with those attending the events featuring local bands. The historic site is now also the home of the two Peacock Ranch buildings.
Dennis Grabhorn and Christine Williams trade tales with one of many who visited our booth at the Treasure Coast History Fair in Fort Pierce in January 2018.
Board Members got to spread the word a bit wider on Saturday, January 13, when they took part in the Treasure Coast History Fair in Fort Pierce. Displays lined 2nd Avenue, while speakers held court in the Black Box Theater of the Lyric. Board members Dianne Aguiar, Patricia Christensen, Mary Dodge and Paula Lewis also participated.
Members of the PSL Historical Society were among the volunteers judging the St. Lucie County high and middle school students' submissions in the Feb. 20, 2018, History Fair on the campus of Indian River State College in Fort Pierce. This is the fourth year the society has provided judges. Students presented exhibits, web sites, documentaries or performances on the theme "Conflict and Compromise." Volunteers were Deb Mock, Secretary Mary Dodge and Chair Dennis Grabhorn, shown here with judging teammate Stephanie Morgan, City Councilwoman.
Lexus Guthrie, a Port St. Lucie High School junior, was the winner of the Port St. Lucie Historical Society's Special Award for her exhibit on "Fly Girls in World War II."
Thanks to the Friends of the Savannas Preserve State Park, we joined the exhibitors at Pioneer Day Saturday, March 31, 2018. Visitors were of all ages, but most were families with young children who learned the joys of using a washboard or making a cornhusk doll. Hikes, hay rides, live music and other events made it a fun day. We had a spot inside which gave us a chance to premiere our digital slideshow.
Native American hunting grounds, the riverside community of Spruce Bluff and the fables and foibles of fishing guide Burt Pruitt were among the bits of history that we shared with Sandpiper Bay Community members in late June. The community contains some of the most historic spots in the city.
It was the maiden voyage of our new slide projector. Mary Dodge and Patricia Christensen made the presentation. Dennis Grabhorn and Christine Williams manned the table selling books and DVDs. Most of the members were relatively new residents, post-2000, and seemed to enjoy the look into the past.
We expect 2019 to an even busier year.
A small group of women who wanted to preserve the history of Port St. Lucie started meeting informally during their lunch hours in September 1995. They wanted to collect and record information about the city and its roots and to eventually start a museum similar to the St. Lucie County Historical Museum in Fort Pierce.
Edward Swanson, director of the St. Lucie Historical Museum advised the group: “Collect, research and have fun with it. The history of Port St. Lucie is kind of a real challenge.” He also advised them to “look at all the pieces of the puzzle before telling the history of a place. Telling just part of the story isn’t true history.”
The Port St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc. (the “Society”) is a non-profit organization whose members actively work to preserve the history of Port St. Lucie. The Mission Statement of the Society is to:
The purpose and objectives of the Society shall be education, historical research, and study of items and objects of interest and value concerning St. Lucie County and the surrounding areas, and encouragement of interest in historical preservation
Board of Directors 2018, from top, left to right: Dennis Grabhorn, Chair; Patricia Christensen, Vice chair'; Mary Dodge, Secretary; Christine Williams, Treasurer; Dianne Aguiar, Maria Bordonaro, Jolien Caraballo, Jack Kelly, Paula Lewis.
A special event was held in June to honor former local journalist Nina Baranski (right), who was in town for a brief visit. Tales were swapped, wine was sipped and cheeses were nibbled at the "meet and greet" social for the author of the city's history book, PORT ST. LUCIE AT 50: A City for All People. Many were friends from her days as PSL Mirror reporter and editor, and as the architect of city's Communications Department.