The University of West Florida Historic Trust broke ground on Jan. 31 for Museum Plaza, a historic preservation and education project that will help tell the story of Pensacola’s rich history.
“The UWF Historic Trust is committed to providing both visitors and neighbors of this city an authentic interpretation of history that is unique to Pensacola,” said UWF President Martha Saunders.
“This is a groundbreaking both literally and figuratively – we will actually be moving dirt today, while celebrating through this symbolic gesture the evolution of new things to come, new assets for the region, and a new cultural activity center for the enjoyment of the public.”
The multipurpose, cultural activity plaza will serve as a central connection point between the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, Pensacola Children’s Museum, Voices of Pensacola multicultural center and the Historic Pensacola Village, while doubling as an outdoor classroom that helps the public better understand the historic landscape.
“Museum Plaza represents a gathering space for our community members, serving as a connector in the heart of our great city,” said Dr. Brendan Kelly, vice president for university advancement at UWF. “It will develop minds in a creative way by bringing to life key historical events, highlighting Pensacola’s archaeological treasures, and making history relevant and fun for people of all ages.”
Featuring a covered pavilion, children’s play area and outdoor historical exhibits, the plaza is the next phase of development included in the UWF Historic Trust Interpretive Master Plan.
The plan, launched in the fall of 2015, includes a series of enhancements to provide balance between resource protection, historical education, visitor and recreational use and enjoyment of the 8.5 acre, 28-property complex.
A focal point of Museum Plaza will be an outdoor education center featuring a covered stage and seating area ideal for presentations, performances, lectures and other educational activities focusing on history, archaeology and architecture, as well as an exploration playground that will provide fun, affordable and family-centered activities in a vibrant and engaging environment.
Two key donors for the outdoor education center and exploration playground were recognized during the groundbreaking ceremony.
Quint and Rishy Studer also gave $150,000 to the project in support of its alignment with the Studer Community Institute’s efforts to make Pensacola the country’s first Early Learning City.
David and Emily Walby gave $100,000 to support the creation and construction of the Linda Evans Memorial Education Pavilion in memory of Linda Carol Evans, a UWF alumna and charter class member who devoted her life to teaching elementary school students.