The Sanford Civic Center

Christine Dalton

The Sanford Civic Center was constructed in 1958 during the height of popularity for the Mid-Century Modern style of architecture. Mid-Century Modern buildings were characterized by clean lines, lack of ornamentation, and space-age influenced design details. Defined shapes (such as spheres and rectangles) were juxtaposed against one another to create dramatic visual effects. Materials were expressed in natural ways and were often left unfinished. Stained or sealed wood (not painted), exposed concrete and exposed structural elements such as beams and columns are very characteristic of buildings constructed in the Mid-Century Modern style. The style emphasized the relationship between interior spaces and their surrounding sites by utilizing large expanses of glass to take advantage of dramatic views and landscaping. The style typically allowed for an abundance of natural light into interior spaces. * The Sanford Civic Center was altered over the years, which significantly and adversely impacted the original Mid-Century Modern design intent. The clear span arched windows were covered with solid walls, draperies were added to the auditorium space, obstructing the views in and out, and in many areas natural wood surfaces were painted over. The building͛s current paint colors are not consistent with the original design scheme. The building was constructed during the Jim Crow era of segregation and equal access was not provided. For this reason, it was the site of two Civil Rights marches led by students of Crooms Academy, events which became newsworthy on a regional and statewide level. In recent history, it was the site in which over 20,000 people peacefully participated in protest to the Trayvon Martin tragedy in 2012. The building was also the site of a speech by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016.
* Sourced from a2 Modern, http://www.a2modern.org/2011/04/characteristics-of-modern-architecture/.
All images courtesy of the Sanford Museum.

Christine Dalton is the Historic Preservation Officer and Community Planner for the City of Sanford and is a Trustee of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. Christine is passionate about historic places. She teaches Historic Preservation at Seminole State College. Her interests include all things historic, sailing, teaching, mentoring, and the arts.

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