Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Matt Armstrong is the Digital Preservation Curator for The Government House Research Collection in St. Augustine (and a former FPAN intern!)  He's giving Tuesday night's lecture for the St. Augustine Archaeology Association.  I got a chance to ask Matt a few questions before the big night...

1. You are scheduled to talk Tuesday for SAAA at Flagler College about Archaeology on St. George Street in the 1960’s.  Why the 1960’s vs. another decade?

It was a really interesting time in St. Augustine because the the Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission had just been formed (1959) and they hit the ground running. Their work and their vision for the city helped to literally recreate the streetscape of downtown. A big checkpoint for them was the Quadricentennial Celebration in 1965, so the push to get a chunk of projects done before then made things exciting. 

2.  The Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission - I suppose their mission is somewhat self-explanatory from the title but what had this commission initially set out to accomplish?

They were a state-funded agency that was created to protect and promote the history of St. Augustine. Their goals are outlined in the enabling legislation, signed in 1959, as being "to acquire, restore, preserve, maintain, reconstruct, and operate for the use, benefit, education, recreation, enjoyment and general welfare" of the citizens and visitors to St. Augustine. Most of the interpretation of these sites focused on the Spanish colonial periods of the city's history. 
3.   How does your job as Digital Preservation Curator at the Government house, connect to Tuesday’s talk? 

The Government House Research Collection is actually the research material of the Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission - which changed it's name to the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board (HSAPB) in 1968. The HSAPB operated until 1997 and collection is a valuable resource into some of the early preservation and archaeological work in downtown St. Augustine. 

4.  What kind of items do you have in your collection? 

All sorts of cool stuff. Maps, photographs/negatives , slides, architectural drawings, archaeological maps, historical documents, research notes, archaeological reports, etc. All the material pertains to the work of the HSAPB - it helped to inform their restoration work, reconstructions of historic buildings, and how the sites were interpreted. 
5.  Is this collection open to the public?

The collection is very much open to the public!  I made a website to help people access the material in the collection:
6.  What do you personally find most interesting about archaeology on St. George Street in 1960’s? 

I am going to decline to answer this one, because I don't want to give too many of cool things away for the talk!

So Matt left us with a cliffhanger!  You will have to attend his presentation to get the answer to that question.
Come meet Matt and hear his presentation Tuesday night (Sept. 6th), 7 pm in the Flagler Room at Flagler College for the St. Augustine Archaeology Association.  This event is free and open to the public.  

Text: Robbie Boggs, FPAN Staff 
Images:  Top Photo: Brian Miller with St. Augustine Social Magazine,
All other photos:UFHSA Government House Research Collection

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