Members of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation held their summer retreat in Apalachicola earlier this month

On Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3, 17 officers, staff members and trustees traveled from as far away as Key West to participate in a business meeting followed by an opportunity to tour the Chapman Auditorium and Holy Family Senior Center.

According to their online mission statement, the Trust advocates for legislation and funding in support of historic preservation on behalf of Florida’s many historic sites, museums and parks and promotes the preservation of the architectural, historical and archaeological heritage of Florida through advocacy, education and historic property stewardship.

Recently, the Trust named Chapman Auditorium as one of the 11 most endangered historic structures in Florida.

Anne Peery, executive director of the Trust said although the visitors did not tour the city as a group, every attendee toured on their own by car, bicycle or on foot.

Lorrie Muldowney, secretary of the Trust was struck by the contrast between her home in Sarasota and Apalachicola “There is a different level of activity here,” she said. “It was interesting and fun to visit.”

Peery said many on the retreat, especially those from South Florida, were visiting Apalachicola for the first time.

“Everybody had a wonderful time and was impressed with how many historic resources still exist here and how much that contributes to identity of the town,” Peery said. “It doesn’t look like Anytown, USA. It is distinctly old Florida with a maritime orientation.

“We use the term historic but we’re really talking heritage,” she said. “The Gibson Inn is a good example of a historic building that is still being used in the original way, but other structures that would have been useful in those early days, have been adapted to a new uses, and remain. A good example of this is Robert Lindsley’s gallery.”

The Apalachicola Area Historical Society and Apalachicola held a reception at the Robert Lindsley Studio Gallery on Avenue E gallery to welcome the distinguished preservations to the area. Lindsley donated the use of his building; prominent local citizens mingled with the distinguished visitors.

Lynn and Bill Spohrer, responsible for an impressive amount of local preservation, traded war stories with the visiting preservationists. Historical Society President Tom Daly and local historians Mark Curenton, Delores Roux and Frank Cook were on hand to provide background and answer questions. Even Shannon Hartsfield, president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers’ Association, commented on the condition of the bay while shucking and serving local oysters.

The Trust’s business meeting took place at Trinity Episcopal Church, also a donated venue.

President Rick Gonzalez, who began his two-year term in May, urged Apalachicola residents to preserve what he called “a special and unique place.”

“I think Apalachicola is great,” he said. “The arrival over the bridge is phenomenal. It is a beautiful small town that hasn’t been businessified. There are bumps in the sidewalks and plants growing on the walls of the buildings. Don’t let go of that. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

Mark Tarmey, treasurer of the Trust is a frequent visitor to Apalachicola. He praised actions that have been taken to preserve the city’s historic character.

“The city commission took historic design guidelines and made it an ordinance,” Tarmey said. “That’s important but it’s not just the buildings that make it special; it’s the people and the whole sense of place. In Apalachicola, you have a brand that’s known all over the country. A brand that is nationally understood. The next step could be to develop the whole waterfront as a park that acts as a flood control device.”

Peery said 13 of the 16 members of the Trust chose to stay overnight on Saturday and spend an extra day here. The preservationists brought along 11 family members to experience Apalachicola.

Trust members stayed at the Gibson Inn, High Cotton Marketplace, Water Street Hotel and the Coombs House Inn.

Peery said participants in the retreat paid their own travel expenses and dined at many local restaurants.

“It was a terrific weekend from all of us getting work done, to meeting people within your community who have same passion for historic preservation we do,” said Peery.

Share your thoughts about Chapman School

Kara Litvinas, a candidate for a master’s degree at the University of Florida, is asking residents and business owners of Franklin County to participate in a 20-minute survey assessing their thoughts and feelings about the community and the Chapman School.

You do not have to answer any question that you do not wish to answer and although specific answers are appreciated, you may be as general as you wish. The results will be presented at a community event later this year in which you are invited to participate. The outcomes will be reported, analyzed, and published as part of her thesis requirements. The outcomes of the survey can potentially influence a strategy for the reuse of the Chapman School building and site

Your responses and your identity will remain confidential to the extent provided by law. To take the survey online, visit

If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact Litvinas at (267) 671-7308 or