Heritage Trail wins award

ST. PETERSBURG —- A top state preservation organization has given the African-American Heritage Trail in St. Petersburg a meritorious achievement award.

The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation cited the trail for its display of about 20 interpretive markers along 22nd Street South and along Ninth Avenue South, historically the commercial, retail, spiritual and residential heart of the city’s African-American community.

Announced earlier this month, it was the trail’s second major recognition in 2015. In March, it earned a second place for public education in the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s Future of the Region awards.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Gwendolyn Reese, African-American Heritage Association president. “It means we’ve been recognized for what we’ve accomplished in the community because it was in the public education category.”

Formally opened last summer, the trail highlights the historic community and its culture, commerce, churches, families and schools.

There is also a companion website and virtual tour online. Find it at www.stpete.org.

The project originated during former Mayor Bill Foster’s administration and was continued during Mayor Rick Kriseman’s current administration.

The African-American Heritage Association and the city’s planning department implemented the idea, researched and wrote the text for the markers and arranged for the signs’ placement.

“The two awards are a tribute to all the hard work on the part of city staff, the heritage committee members, and people in the community who contributed stories and photos to the project,” said Jon Wilson, AAHA vice president.

Under consideration is expansion of the trail to include the historic Methodist Town and Gas Plant neighborhoods.

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