Broward County Historical Commission and Museum Celebrates Grand Opening February 4
The Broward County Historical Commission and Museum will host a grand opening of their new home, located in the historic West Side Grade School building, on Thursday, February 4, at 4:30 p.m. at .
The rehabilitated West Side Grade School building, located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s Sailboat Bend Historic District, provides the Historical Commission with much needed new gallery and community room meeting space, as well as expanded and enhanced facilities for a research library, historical archives and archeological and historical artifacts. The public is invited to attend the grand opening celebration.
In preparation for the grand opening, Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl said, “Broward County has an amazing collection of archeological and historic photos, mementos and artifacts that most people have not had the opportunity to see. This new museum is the perfect venue to discover the history that makes Broward so unique today.”
Commissioner John Rodstrom, who was instrumental in the development of the nearby Sailboat Bend Artist’s Lofts and the rehabilitation of the West Side Grade School, said, “It is very appropriate that the County’s Historical Commission should find its home in the second oldest school in Broward County. It is a tribute to our respect for the past that Broward’s unique history and heritage will be showcased in this rehabilitated facility. History buffs and students, adults and children, will all find this a comfortable place to explore Broward’s past.”
Highlights of the grand opening ceremony include:
• Welcoming ceremonies featuring Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl and Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler
• Tours of the gallery, research library and archives
• New gallery exhibit on Historic Sailboat Bend
• Light refreshments and performances by Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theatre, Florida Youth Orchestra, and 1310: Artists at Sailboat Bend
Regular operating hours for the Broward County Historical Commission and Museum are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call or visit www.broward.org/history.
Background and History of West Side Grade School
The West Side Grade School was the second elementary school built in the Fort Lauderdale School District by the Broward County Board of Public Instruction. The school was designed in 1923 by locally prominent architect Morris Peterman, who also designed Southside Elementary School, Old Dillard School and the Broward County Courthouse.
The school opened on September 21, 1923, and by July 1925 an additional four classrooms and an open air assembly room were added to accommodate an increase in student enrollment. West Side Grade School closed its doors to students in 1961.
The Broward County School Board had bought the land surrounding the school, which by then encompassed 13.4 acres. School Board offices, the school bus depot and space for other departments were located on the property. On March 5, 2002, Lennar Homes purchased the entire site for $5 million, with the official closing date on March 31, 2003.
Lennar Homes created The Villages of Sailboat Bend, a multi-use development which included, among other uses, luxury condominiums on the south and west portions of the site. At that time, the Broward County Cultural Division was assisting ArtSpace Projects, Inc., to provide affordable live/work housing on the site, including the use of the West Side Grade School. Eventually, the school building was deemed financially unfeasible for residential living.
The Broward County Historical Commission decided to lease the building and rehabilitate it for the headquarters of the Broward County Historical Commission. The Historical Commission and Museum moved into its new headquarters in the rehabilitated West Side Grade School in September 2009.
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