village, close to half. Sarah Prohaska, the city’s assistant
communications director, says the city will apply for grant
assistance each year to rehab the structures; the city is also
looking into projected maintenance costs.
Christensen, a former mayor of Port St. Lucie, says the
interiors of the building are in better condition than she’d expected.
“The two-story has beautiful Dade pine, some of the
original lighting. The lodge is cedar, with built-in bookcases.
It will take relatively little work to transform them.”
While a historical village was always the plan, other ideas
have also emerged. A retail establishment could, theoretically,
be housed within one of the Peacock buildings. “When
I went inside the houses,” Christensen says, “I thought, ‘Oh,
my gosh! Making the changes necessary for a retail business
would ruin the integrity of the design.’” She says it would
likely cost less to tear down the buildings and build new
retail establishments than to convert the older structures, a
tremendous loss of history.
At a June Community Redevelopment Agency meeting,
Russ Blackburn, city manager and CRA executive director,
said that while some aspects of renovations address both
houses, renovating one house at a time maximizes grant
possibilities. The society was asked to submit its proposal in
order to help finalize decisions.
Renovating the lodge as a museum is the society’s first
priority, run by an army of volunteers of society members;
the Daughters of the American Revolution and Chamber of
Commerce have also expressed interest. The society wants
to record oral histories, with a kiosk where people can watch
and listen to locals tell their stories.
Beyond that, Christensen says their vision includes opening
the two-story period house for school tours and special
events. “Part of our proposal is to gear events toward things
like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.”
The society is excited about having a physical location from
which to share photographs, historical items and information
with the public; much of its inventory is currently in storage.
As others hear about the society and proposed historical
village, calls are coming in from people wanting to donate
furniture, photographs and other items of historical interest.
Port St. Lucie is a relatively new city, with a golden
opportunity to get a head start for the future on protecting
its history. While the Port St. Lucie Historical Society
continues to educate through events and its website, the
city moves forward. Decisions as to the final outcome of the
Peacock structures and surrounding areas have not been
decided, but as the society and city work together, Port St.
Lucie could be the richer for their united commitment to
preservation and education.
As mayor, Christensen reached out to the society in 2008,
asking them to participate in the city’s 50th anniversary. Several
current or former city officials serve as board members,
helping raise funds for past projects, such as their book and
video. Future projects — updating the video, for example —
will require money too, but right now, it’s a waiting game.
“It’s hard to put your hand out when you don’t know for
sure what’s happening,” Christensen says.
As the saying goes, “it takes a village.” In this case, it will
take a village to create a village. E
The society wants to record oral histories,
with a kiosk where people can watch and
listen to locals tell their stories.
PORT ST. LUCIE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Society has a wealth of information, clippings, and photographs on its
website, such as this group of early pioneers enjoying a day on the North
Fork of the St. Lucie River. In the photo is Harry Hill, second from left, whose
glass photographic plates give us a priceless view of the county’s history.
This limited-edition book by Nina Baranski was made possible by the society
and is currently available online and at the Shell Bazaar, 10100 U.S. 1.
The society wants to update the book for the city’s 60th anniversary.
Port St. Lucie Magazine 21