History and Storytelling Circle
West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. dba UWF Historic Trust
The mission of UWF Historic Trust is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of Northwest Florida. Created by Florida Statute in 1967 as the Historic Pensacola Preservation and Restoration Commission, then as the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board (HPPB) under the Florida Department of State in 1972, the HPPB was transferred to the University of West Florida in 2001, becoming West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. (WFHPI), a direct support organization of the University of West Florida. In 2013, WFHPI was renamed the UWF Historic Trust (UWFHT). The Trust manages and operates the T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, Historic Pensacola Village, the Pensacola Historical Society, the Pensacola Children’s Museum, and the Arcadia Archaeology Mill Site. Major projects of UWFHT include “Voices” of Pensacola, a Multicultural Resource Center where pre-K through 12th and college students, as well as community members, can learn about their city through research, lectures and exhibits; The Children’s Museum with two floors of hands-on learning fun geared for up to 9 years old; hosting a regional Teacher’s Conference in conjunction with the Florida Council for Social Studies and a UWF Archaeology Summer Field School excavation at the Arcadia Archaeology Mill Site and partnering with the African-American Heritage Society.
UWFHT is in the process of redeveloping an unused area behind the T.T. Wentworth Museum into an educational and community space called Museum Plaza. IMPACT 100 funds will be used to design, fund site work, and construct a brick walkway and concrete foundations and to purchase benches, exhibit panels and raised planters to create the History and Storytelling Circle (the Circle) inside the Plaza. The Circle will include an education pavilion and playground and will be another component that is centered on families. First-person interpretation, group tours, and other intimate gatherings will be held in this space. Live actors representing Pensacola figures like Andrew Jackson would tell their personal story about their contributions to our history which began in 1559. Interacting with these live storytellers will help children to visualize historic figures as real people, better understand history and become engaged in the subject matter.
The Historic Trust is focused on providing exciting and engaging, free cultural programming to the community. The location of the History and Storytelling Circle directly behind the T.T. Wentworth Museum between the Children’s Museum and Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center will draw more visitors to the entire complex and encourage them to stay longer on the site. The community will have a free cultural program to enjoy that will have changing programming. This will encourage families and visitors to continue to visit the History and Storytelling Circle and visit the adjacent museums. Children will be able to interact with history and better understand the importance of Pensacola and how the region developed. Getting to meet and interact with important historical Pensacola individuals such as Rachel Jackson, Dorothy Walton, Clara Barkley Dorr, and other influential figures, will help bring the history of our community to life. Last year around 173,000 visitors, of whom 12,000 were children on field trips, witnessed live demonstrations of candle making, woodworking, broom making, bee keeping, and other heritage trades. The annual Escambia County History Fair and summer history and archaeology camps also take place on the Historic Trust campus. The Circle’s raised-planter benches and landscaping will provide an inviting atmosphere for visitors to gather during these other events.