The OUTDOOR MUSEUM at St. John’s Historic Cemetery

The OUTDOOR MUSEUM at St. John’s Historic Cemetery

Grant Year: 2016 | Focus Area: Arts & Culture | Grant Amount: $108,200 | Grant Status: Completed

The OUTDOOR MUSEUM at St. John ’ s Historic Cemetery

St. John’s Cemetery Historical and Educational Foundation, Inc.

St. John’s Cemetery Historical and Educational Foundation, Inc. (the Foundation) was formed by the St. John’s Cemetery Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(13) not-for-profit cemetery organization responsible for maintaining and providing perpetual care for a 140 year old, 26 acre, Pensacola burial site, known as the St. John’s Cemetery (the Cemetery). The Cemetery organization has long had an interest in making the Cemetery wider-known, and available to anyone with an interest in Pensacola’s culture and history. The Foundation seeks to introduce Pensacola to the “OUTDOOR MUSEUM” that is St. John’s Cemetery, which, having been established in 1876, reflects 140 years of Pensacola’s history and culture presented in its grave markers and funerary assets. The Foundation is newly formed for the sole mission to promote public awareness, access and enjoyment of the Cemetery and its role as an outdoor museum. Thousands pass on Garden and Cervantes streets completely unaware of the 6 acres of history on “G” Street, because it is out of view. The Foundation wants the Cemetery to be a historical resource for locals, and further, to become a "side dish” to the tourists attracted to Pensacola for other reasons.

Project Description

The Cemetery is an underutilized historical resource and a hidden asset. IMPACT funds will be used to refurbish the existing gate house, purchase benches and interpretive signage for the Cemetery, and purchase a State of Florida Historical Marker as well as road signage to direct visitors to the OUTDOOR MUSEUM. The refurbished gatehouse will transform that part of the property into a community meeting room for visitors and small groups. The interpretive signage will present the overall history of the MUSEUM and direct visitors to points of interest in the Cemetery. Additionally, the project includes a public awareness campaign. This campaign will include videos promoting the historical significance of the Cemetery and provide virtual tours, brochures, visitor guide advertising and a public relations component featuring news releases and story pitches designed to target national and regional journalists as well as mainstream media.The completion of each phase, including the construction, benches, sign installation and awareness campaign, will provide the building blocks for an enhanced experience for historically interested visitors.

Community Impact

St. John's Cemetery contains the largest and most diverse number of gravestones and monuments in northwest Florida, and from inception, was open to people of all faiths and races. The Cemetery contains the graves of those who built Pensacola as we know it today, including names that adorn local streets such as Avery, Baars, Bobe, Hallmark, Hyer, Jordan, Lee, Maxwell, Merritt, Pace, Wright, and Yonge. The interpretive signage will direct visitors to the Cemetery where they will experience a meaningful visit and an appreciation of Pensacola’s history and culture. Through the virtual video tours of the Cemetery on its website, the Foundation will be able to serve locals as well as many other people who have an interest in history and are not able to walk the 26 acres of the Cemetery due to location, disability or inclement weather. The Foundation’s refurbishment work will facilitate a meeting space for small groups in a historical setting. The impact and results of the proposed project will be evidenced by the increase in visitor traffic. The Foundation also contemplates adding a visitor section to the their website which will record and measure impact. The items funded in this project will be functional for many years, with little maintenance required.