Preservation Month: Q&A with ELM team members
Did you know May is Preservation Month? As the month wraps up, we gathered together two of our team members who are leaders in their respective neighorhoods’ preservation associations—Mike Montoya with Springfield Preservation and Restoration (SPAR), and Erin Weinberg with the San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS)—for a quick Q&A about their involvement with these organizations, what they love about their historic neighborhood, and why preservation is important to them!
What is your role within the organization?
Mike: Board of Directors, Design Review Committee Chair; Growth & Planning Committee Chair
Erin: Board of Directors, Website and Graphic Design Chair
What inspired you to get involved with this organization?
Mike: Apriori, I believe in Community and Inclusion, All Are Welcome in Springfield. I am both a preservation minded and a forward thinking design professional who believes growth and development must occur in collaboration with preservation and restoration.
Erin: When I landed in San Marco during my move to Jacksonville two years ago, I fell in love with the historic charm of the neighborhood and was eager to meet new people. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to apply my talents while serving the community and getting to know my neighbors.
Why is preservation important to you?
Mike: The architectural and cultural history of a place is paramount to its success and continued growth.
Erin: During my time in graduate school, my favorite courses were the ones on architectural history--I not only learned about world history through a different lens, but was able to recognize and read styles, motifs, and stories in the structures I saw every day. Recognizing architectural and historical significance in the built environment opened my eyes to the importance of preservation beyond mere aesthetic value.
Historic San Marco
How does your preservation-related organization serve and impact your neighborhood?
Mike: Since 1974, we have facilitated positive change in the Springfield historic district through a variety of roles and initiatives. Through the decades, these actions have taken different forms, from painstaking documentation to sweat soaked service. We're your neighborhood advocate. In 2016, SPAR is organized around five important themes: Preservation, Quality of Life, Commercial Revitalization, Civic Advocacy and Connecting!
Erin: Though San Marco is not a designated historic district, we make an impact through fundraising and events focused on community-building and beautifying the area. Recently, we've funded and coordinated landscaping improvements to San Marco Square, hosted our annual Wine Down in the Parks event, and coordinated a local candidate forum for the neighborhood to learn more about candidates running for City Council. We also maintain Preservation Hall, a historic church that we make available as an event venue and community landmark.
What about your neighborhood's preservation efforts makes you most proud?
Mike: We as an organization truly care about the citizens and their properties together.
Erin: I'm most proud of our community-building initiatives, particularly Wine Down in the Parks--there's nothing like seeing neighbors of all ages and backgrounds come together to enjoy local food and wine in our beautiful park spaces. I also love our annual Beautification Awards, because it gives recognition to a handful of homeowners and business owners who have honored their building's historic significance through renovation--I love a good before and after, and it's always exciting to see how these small changes impact the neighborhood.
What is your favorite thing about your historic neighborhood?
Mike: The people and their genuine passion for Springfield!
Erin: I adore the homes and buildings and parks and riverfront, but my favorite thing is the people! I've felt at home since the day I moved here.
Do you have a favorite historic building or landmark in your neighborhood?
Mike: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, where my wife Cherie and I married in 2017!
Erin: I have a few favorite homes and spots, but I love taking my dog for walks through all the neighborhood parks, watching the sunset at Riverfront park (especially after seeing it under post-hurricane construction for so long).
How do you suggest someone can learn more or get involved in support of historic preservation of their city or neighborhood?
Mike: Most Preservation Groups are online, but the city's historic preservation department is always eager to point you in the right direction. The City of Jacksonville’s Historic Preservation Commission certainly has great leadership and staff.
Erin: I would visit local bookstores or libraries or do a quick google search to learn more about the history of your neighborhood, and reach out to a local preservation association to see if they need volunteers! There's always something new to learn and help is almost always needed.