The St. Johns Cultural Council transformed the front area at the Cultural Arts Center in St. Augustine Beach to an inviting courtyard with the help of council volunteers and volunteers from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
The bold initiative of the “Courtyard Beautification Project” was led by Karen Coker, a board director with the cultural council. To fund the project, the St. Johns Cultural Council hosted fundraising events. In addition, the cultural council received donations from businesses and St. Johns County residents.
Sally Ann Freeman, an award-winning Master Gardener with the University of Florida and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), suggested seaside friendly plants.
The landscaping complements the commemorative bricks that were used 10 years ago as the initial fundraiser for the first renovation of the building in 2001.
Among the many volunteers from the community were eight students from The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind Garden Center. Led by instructor Jenny Henningsen Palmer, the students eagerly helped with digging, planting, mulching, edging, carting materials around, and driving to and from supply stores.
The St. Johns Cultural Council assumed the building in 2000 from the City of St. Augustine Beach as a project to restore the building for use as a nonprofit arts center.
Beginning in 2001, funded by grants from the Florida Division of Historical Resources and individual and corporate donors of over $800,000, extensive restoration and rehabilitation of the exterior and 5,000 square feet of the interior was accomplished.
In 2007, The Dance Company, a local nonprofit dance school, became the first anchor tenant, and The Art Studio joined tenancy in 2015. Further renovations will provide space for more local arts and events for the community as well as visitors.
For information, call 808-7330 or go to stjohnsculture.com.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904.827.2212 voice or 904.201.4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.