North Florida Land Trust
May 23, 2018 12:44 p.m.
Jacksonville, Fla., May 21, 2018 – North Florida Land Trust, who was recently honored by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission, has once again been honored, this time at the state level. The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation presented NFLT with the 2018 Florida Preservation Organizational Achievement award for the work they did to acquire and preserve the 1898 Spanish American War Fort. The award was presented at a ceremony on May 18 in Jacksonville at the Jessie Ball duPont Center.
NFLT was chosen for the Florida Trust’s Preservation Award in the organizational achievement category for the capital campaign they led to preserve the 1898 Spanish American War Fort. NFLT partnered with the National Park Service in 2015 to serve as the acquisition and fundraising partner to save the fort. They negotiated with the landowner who had acquired the property at a tax deed sale and had planned to destroy the fort to build a house. The staff then set out on a yearlong capital campaign to raise the money needed to purchase the property and save the fort.
“This is an example of what a community can achieve when we work together to save an important part of our state’s history,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “When we took this on in 2015, it was the largest capital campaign our organization had ever undertaken in its 16-year history. Our then small staff of six worked very hard to achieve our goal to save the fort. With help from the City of Jacksonville, the Delores Barr Weaver Fund and many in the community who contributed to the campaign, we were able to raise the money needed to purchase this property and save a piece of Jacksonville history.”
NFLT acquired the fort in 2016 and will be turning it over to the National Park Service, who plans to add it to the Fort Caroline National Memorial as a public access park. The 1898 Spanish American War Fort is one of four military installations in Jacksonville that acted in defense of the river and the only one that remains. It will become a critical addition to the National Park Service’s interpretive and community education outreach programming.
The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is a statewide nonprofit founded in 1978 to protect Florida’s heritage and history and is a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Each year, they recognize individuals, groups, nonprofits, corporations or other organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation of Florida’s historic resources.
The first fort in Jacksonville was Ft. Caroline which was constructed in 1564 by French Huguenots. It was later taken by the Spanish and renamed Fort San Mateo. The exact location is not known, but it is believed changes in the river left it submerged. An English fort was constructed in 1778 and was likewise lost when man-made changes to St. Johns Bluff caused considerable erosion along the marsh. A Confederate Earthworks was built in 1862 and has been buried. It now lies underneath a residential development. The work NFLT did to save the 1898 Spanish American War Fort assures the only actual fort in Duval County will remain intact for generations to learn about and enjoy.
About North Florida Land Trust
North Florida Land Trust is a non-profit organization who serves as a champion of environmental protection primarily in Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union and Volusia counties. NFLT was founded in 1999 and has protected thousands of acres of environmentally significant land including property at Big Talbot Island, the River Branch Preserve, Pumpkin Hill State Park, Moccasin Slough, along the St. Mary’s River and other valued natural areas predominantly in Northeast Florida. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with private landowners and other public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit www.nflt.org.