HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICER OF SANFORD
PERLA B. CROSBY
What was the first historic site you visited as a child?
I grew up in NYC and was surrounded by historic architecture. In the fourth grade I was selected to participate in an accelerated academic program which focused greatly on arts and culture. During that school year I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum Old Art, Lincoln Center, And the New York Philadelphia. These experiences left an indelible impression and are still some of my favorite memories. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will forever have a cherished place in my heart.
What influenced you to pursue your career in historic preservation?
My paternal and maternal grandmothers lived in neighborhoods that were starkly different, though the architecture was very similar. One grandmother was “poor” while the other lived “comfortably”. I spent a lot of time wondering what made their neighborhoods so different since the architecture was so similar. When I was 9 years old, while riding the train with my family to visit Coney Island, I looked out the window and studied the neighborhoods we passed. By the time we arrived, I told father that when I grew up, I would “paint the buildings and make the neighborhoods nice” this career path is not something I had to think about or discover. I have known since childhood that historic buildings and neighborhoods would be a part of my life forever.
Last month you received two awards from the Florida trust for historic preservation, how important was that for you and our community? Is this the first recognition?
Recognition by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is a true honor. It’s the highest achievement statewide that historic communities can aspire to. This recognition is important for Sanford, as it elevates the City’s position as a premier historic community, which in turn attracts visitors and bolsters the local economy. I received awards in 2013, 2014, and 2015 for various Preservation Education/Media projects, and in 2015 and award for the Sanford Avenue Streetscape Projects, in the category of Infill Development.
As a historic preservation teacher, how do you involve young people to rehabilitate historic places in need?
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to teach historic preservation at Rollins College and work with University of Central Florida interns on preservation projects. Many of these students grew up in Florida and have had little exposure to historic buildings or neighborhoods. It is a treat to see them visit historic sites for the first time and to hear their exclamations of “how amazing!” the buildings are.
What drew you to Sanford, Florida?
I fell in love with Sanford 20 years ago. It was one of the first historic communities I discovered when I moved to Florida. Back then, Sanford was a little roughs around the edges, but had a distinct charm and unique character. I loved the historic downtown and the beautiful homes that had so much potential. I still have photographs I took back then, of buildings around town, many of which have since been rehabbed.
Where do you see Sanford in 2020?
There are many positive changes happening in Sanford. I can envision more improvements to the downtown area, including the extension of the River Walk to Interstate 4, the addition of a public art program to enhance our already thriving arts scene, many more restored homes, and new residents contributing to the population on this city. I think that the influx of millennial to Sanford is going to add a vibrancy to the community that will really be great. I see many more couples with young children discovering our family friendly town.