In 2007, local psychologist Dr. Sue A. Middleton, made a generous donation to the City of St. Augustine to support its archaeology program. Her generosity was recognized with a ribbon cutting for the Dr. Sue A. Middleton Archaeology Center on March 30.
The city’s Archaeology Division was created in 1990 as part of the Archaeological Preservation Ordinance, established in 1986. The ordinance created the position of City Archaeologist and established regulations designed to protect, through documentation, the city’s archaeological heritage from the effects of ground-penetrating construction activities. Since the establishment of the ordinance, more than 600 projects have been logged resulting in the collection of hundreds of thousands of artifacts.
Incorporated are new offices, an exhibit area, a laboratory area, an archives area, a section to clean and curate artifacts, and storage space for the hundreds of thousands of cultural objects recovered by the city over the past 21 years. A generous canopy was added onto the rear of the building, creating a place to work outside during the hot and wet summer months. The new facility will increase the city’s ability to store, catalogue and curate items, and maintain their accompanying documentation.
Mark Knight, Director of the city’s Planning and Building Department, of which the Archaeology Division is a part, said the division was housed for 16 years at the water treatment plant on King Street, then relocated to the basement of Government House. He sees this permanent facility as an enhancement of the city’s ability to manage and research artifacts collected over the past quarter century, as well as an indication of the city’s commitment in preserving its unique cultural heritage.
Dr. Middleton was a pioneer in many areas: a scientist, a community activist, and her love of historic preservation and cultural resources were passed to her children and her grandchildren. When making the donation, Dr. Middleton, who died in 2008, said “I want our wonderful, oldest town to now have a more powerful focus on our search for the evidence of our past, and that evidence lies beneath our feet. As a trained scientist and a deep believer in the importance of our past here, I presently wish to assist our archeologists to be able to intensify their search for the older reality.”
For more information, contact the Planning and Building Department at 825.1065 or Public Affairs at 825.1004.