Academic journal article American Studies

HEART AND SOUL OF FLORIDA: Sacred Sites and Historic Architecture

Academic journal article American Studies

HEART AND SOUL OF FLORIDA: Sacred Sites and Historic Architecture

Article excerpt

HEART AND SOUL OF FLORIDA: Sacred Sites and Historic Architecture. By Elsbeth Gordon. Gainesville: University of Florida Press. 2013.

In commemoration of Florida's quincentennial (1513-2013), Elsbeth Gordon has produced Heart and Soul of Florida, a captivating tour of the sunshine state's architectural landscape from the pre-colonial period to the post-WWII era. The work, which features one hundred and seventy carefully chosen illustrations (including sixty that are in color), is divided into three sections: Indian Florida, from 6000 BCE to the early colonial period; colonial period, from 1565 to 1821; and American Florida, from 1821 to 1950. Herschel Shepard provides a foreword in which architectural symbolism is briefly explained while he informs the reader that though many of the events and beliefs of the past are in certain cases irrevocable, their legacies nonetheless endure in the archaeological sites, landscapes, or structures that continue to exist. Such heritage, whether connected with formal religion or not, is sacred.

For a state that was largely undeveloped until the Gilded Age-when oil executive Henry Flagler built resort hotels in St. Augustine and Palm Beach and linked them to the Northeast with an East Coast railway so that the well-to-do could be transported back and forth-Florida has a surprising amount of historic architecture to take note of. Gordon emphasizes that the 1821-1950 period is when "the outstanding religious and public buildings that make up a substantial period of today's built landscape" came into existence (135). Flagler's palatial Ponce de Leon Hotel (now the main building of Flagler College in St. Augustine) is given its due, just as Flagler is given credit for reviving Florida's Spanish architectural heritage. …

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