New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Smyrnéa Archaeological Research Institute
I've been a professional archaeologist for 25 years in the southeast US, the SW US, and the Great Plains. I am fascinated by everything in the past. With my best friend and colleague, Rebecca Harris, we have started the Smyrnéa Archaeological Research Institute in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (www.nsb.archaeology.org). Our focus is the archaeology and history of New Smyrna Beach, and we have a strong public archaeology mission. We have long-term teaching module presentations at the middle school, informative public speaking engagements at civic clubs and libraries, archaeology summer camps for kids, and professional development workshops for primary and secondary educators.
In support of SARI's public archaeology mission, we have started the Westside Archaeology Project which focuses on the African American archaeology of the historic Westside neighborhood of New Smyrna Beach. Our controlled surface collections began at a parcel that had as many as 12 structures on it in 1916 according to the Sanborn fire insurance maps. There are no structures on the parcel now. The amount of cultural material on the surface led us to begin our research there. We have recently begun subsurface testing of this area, and we hope our research will add to the scant published data of late nineteenth and early twentieth century African American neighborhood culture and organization in small Florida coastal communities.
Our offices are located in a very special building. It was originally constructed in 1892 as the St. Paul ME Church. The style is vernacular gothic, and except for a converted porch to bathroom project in 1957, the building is original. We are beginning the HABS documentation on the structure this summer. Our long-term plans include adding the structure to the NRHP and restoring it to its original, charming state so it can become a place for gathering and learning in the Westside neighborhood once again.