Broward Historical Commission Got New Home, Now Loses All Its Funding

The commission's new old digs.
The commission's new old digs.

When Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler jogged through Sailboat Bend with his entourage last Monday, he made a point to stop at the newly renovated offices of the Broward County Historical Commission. But a couple of weeks before, the Broward County Commission had axed the historical organization's entire $275,000 budget -- putting its duties under the auspices of the library and leaving the building's future use in question.

The historical commission just wrapped up a show of architectural photographs called Going, Going, Gone, and the commission may be gone soon too. Nobody's sure what will become of the roomful of archives with  state-of-the-art climate control and fire-suppression systems in a building that cost more than $2.4 million to build, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Historical Commission Administrator Dave Baber won't comment much on the cuts, aside from expressing disappointment at the prospect of losing his job. He says that the commission is entering a 90-day "transition period" in which its staff will help library staffers adjust to their new duties.

The commission's archaeologist and curator will stay on county payrolls, says Baber, but "things are still in flux."

Here's a poignant example of that lovely "flux" brought on by Broward budget woes: a gracious christening of the new digs back in February, attended by all the royalty: Seiler, Broward Mayor Ken Keechl, Gov. Crist.

At a county budget hearing on September 28, Becky Kirkstone addressed the County Commission. Her father started the historical commission back in 1972:

We have waited 38 years to get this building, which we just got. And last November, we had the ribbon-cutting ceremony. I think all of you were there. Now we're going to close this building, and we're going to not have the Historical Commission, which houses all types of artifacts from all over Broward County.

The thought of Broward County doesn't usually evoke much of an idea of "history," unless you mean "recent history of corruption." But it's there, tucked away in the archives... and soon some overworked librarian will be quietly thumbing through it.

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