National Park Service awards $750,000 to St. Johns Cultural Council

National Park Service awards $750,000 to St. Johns Cultural Council

The National Park Service recently awarded $750,000 to St. Johns Cultural Council for continuing the non-profit’s efforts in rehabilitating the Cultural Arts Center at the St. Augustine Beach Hotel, according to a media release. The government grant funding overall totals $23.4 million for 39 projects in 16 states and the District of Columbia as part of the Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights grant program, which focuses on the preservation of sites and stories directly associated with the struggle of African Americans to gain equal rights.

“Since 2016, the National Park Service has provided over $126 million through this program to document, preserve, and recognize the places and stories associated with the struggle for civil rights of African Americans,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams, in the release.

According to the National Park Service award statement, “This beachfront property is the only remaining structure at the site of the civil rights era wade-ins organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and local activists in 1964. A series of demonstrations that occurred on the site were widely covered by national media and contributed to the passage of the national Civil Rights Act immediately thereafter.”

According to St. Johns Cultural Council Executive Director Christina Parrish Stone, the organization and its partners have worked for more than 20 years to restore and preserve the historic St. Augustine Beach Hotel.

“We are proud to have saved the structure from demolition and raised more than two million dollars in grants and private donations to restore and stabilize the building,” she said in the release. “The Council is working closely with the City of St. Augustine Beach to continue the project and complete the second floor with additional plans for classroom space and artist studios.” 

Parrish Stone also credited Brenda Swann, the Cultural Council’s Director of Grants and Operations, for her efforts in securing this and a previous $500,000 grant to support restoration of the historic hotel property.

“What an honor for the City of St. Augustine Beach to work with St. Johns Cultural Council. We greatly appreciate the organization’s tireless achievements in obtaining grants to refurbish the historic hotel and former City Hall building,” said Dylan Rumrell, mayor of St Augustine Beach, in the release. “We are so very fortunate to have great leadership at the Cultural Council as the team advocates for much needed renovations of this significant building.”

The St. Augustine Beach Hotel and Beachfront in the City of St. Augustine Beach is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for importance nationwide as part of the civil rights movement known as the St. Augustine Campaign. The building is located at 370 State Road A1A.