The Coalition wishes to recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and understanding of Sarasota County’s prehistorical and historical resources. Besides honoring those who have devoted themselves to maintaining the integrity of our remaining architectural, archaeological, and historical assets and educating the public to their importance, the Heritage Awards aim to raise the level of public support for government and citizen-based efforts to preserve our common past for future generations.


After an extensive nomination and review process by a professional and experienced advisory committee, an awardee was selected from each of the 2018 categories. The winning projects and individuals represent some of the best in the region and in their fields. 



The Archaeological Conservancy Award is one of the original awards created by the History and Preservation Coalition because of Sarasota County’s remarkable assets, such as Native American middens and burial mounds and a wonderful group of springs in the southern part of the county where evidence of human habitation can be dated as far back as 14,000 years.

The man we honor today has devoted much of his life to preserving, studying, and lecturing about human life during the early part of those 140 centuries. Steven Koski earned his BA in Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, followed by graduate work in those fields at Arizona State University. He was a University of Miami research associate and did research at Warm Mineral Springs. Between 2000 and 2013 the university named him Site Manager as well as Research Associate at Little Salt Spring Research Facility. A skilled diver, Steve has often been asked to explore other fresh and saltwater sites.

In 2015 Steve was named Interim County Archaeologist. A year later he received the permanent appointment, which he still holds. As County Archaeologist, Steve is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations that preserve and protect our prehistory assets. In addition to his government work, Steve is still site archaeologist at the 112-acre site of Little Salt Spring.

Koski is a natural educator who lectures throughout Sarasota County and beyond about the wonders of Sarasota’s astonishing springs. The Power Point accompanying his remarks presents fascinating pictures of shell, wood, and bone tools and many other objects that are intact and were actually used by Paleolithic people. In fact, Steve personally found many of these items. His enthusiasm quickly spreads to his audience. He is a ceaseless advocate not only for securing the safety of Little Salt Spring, but carefully opening more opportunities for researchers and school classes to visit the site, which has been fenced off from the surrounding community. It is a treasure, he believes, that should be better understood, for it is a unique window into a far distant past.

Steve’s latest venture as a diver and a County official has been to explore and help plan protection for the amazing 7,000-year-old site recently found in 20 feet of water off of Manasota Key. It may well be one of only a handful of such sites in the word, which contain burials in what once had been freshwater ponds. 

The organizations and people, like this awardee, that raise funds and public awareness of our amazing archaeological sites and springs, deserve a great deal of credit, and we should all be delighted that a man like Steven Koski has made such a personal commitment to preserving these irreplaceable treasures. 



Scholars could not do their jobs if it were not for a group of highly educated professionals that include research librarians, technology experts, museologists, curators, and archivists. Without these experts collecting, documenting, cataloging, interpreting, and preserving the raw materials of history such as documents, newspapers, artifacts, brochures, broadsides, government documents, business records, photographs, videos and many other types of records, the historian could not write history, history teachers would have little to tell their classes, and history museums would contain little of interest,

It is for this reason that the History and Preservation Coalition created the Award for Records Preservation. The recipient this year is Deborah Walk of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Her present titles include Assistant Director of Legacy and Circus with oversight of the archives, Circus Museum, Ca’d’Zan and the library and education departments. She is also the Tibbals Curator of the Circus Museum and Curator of Historical Documents.

Deborah earned a B.A. at George Washington University in history and a masters in library science at Florida State University. She has been at the Ringling since 1995. She has written numerous books and articles particularly relating to her work with historical materials pertaining to the circus. She has also delivered numerous academic papers before professional associations showing that she is a national leader in her field. One of the things she is proud of is the Ringling’s vast collection of circus posters stored in the most modern conditions in the Circus Museum. She has curated many exhibitions involving these posters over the years.

Mrs. Walk’s vast knowledge, extensive experience, organizational skills, and taste have helped make the Ringling a leading cultural asset to Sarasota County, the entire state, and indeed the nation. Thanks to her it is also a center of scholarship and a model of how to organize the curatorial and archival functions in a museum setting.

Special attention should be given to Deborah’s work associated with the Tibbals Learning Center. She oversaw the construction and exhibit development of the Center. She also managed the acceptance of the thousands of documents, posters, and objects from Howard Tibbals collection and with her team catalogued and preserved the collection and digitized it for better access and research purposes. She is also involved in the construction of the Center for the Living Circus, a major new initiative focusing on the post-1950s history of the circus.

The Awards Committee was also impressed by Deborah’s record of public service including memberships on the Sarasota County Historical Commission, the Sarasota County Historical Society, and the Founders Garden Club of Sarasota as well as a member of many national associations.



It's likely that more people have learned about Sarasota’s history from Jeff’s books, articles, lectures, and one nationally aired video than from any other source. He is the voice of Sarasota history, but he also effectively uses pictures to give his audiences a deeper appreciation of the era he is discussing.

Jeff was born in 1945, arrived in Sarasota five years later with the rest of his extended family, and graduated from Sarasota High School in 1964. He earned a BA in history and an M.A. in counseling from the University of South Florida. He then spent 32 years working in the criminal justice system. He always retained a deep attachment to his hometown, and over the years his interest in its history grew.

By the 1990s Jeff was deeply involved in researching and writing about Sarasota history. His first book, Quintessential Sarasota: Stories and Pictures from the 1920s-1930s, came out in 1990, to be followed by Sarasota Then and Now (1994) and Come on Down: Pitching Paradise during the Roaring 20s (1995). To date Jeff has published 15 books on Sarasota history including three biographically themed volumes on Owen Burns, John Hamilton Gillespie, and former Sarasota City Manager Ken Thompson. Taken together, Jeff’s books are the most comprehensive library of works on Sarasota history and the people who shaped its destiny.

LaHurd has long been a contributor of articles on Sarasota history to such publications as the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sarasota Magazine, SRQ, and the Sarasota Observer. Like his books, Jeff’s articles emphasize key moments n Sarasota’s history as well as the fascinating cast of leaders that propelled the city forward. But at the same time he constantly reminds us that failures of leadership led to the destruction of many significant structures such as the Lido Beach Casino and Ringling Towers as well as the erection of unglamorous and intrusive buildings that degrade the charm of Sarasota. Thus he not only chronicles Sarasota’s remarkable achievements, but sounds the alarm when he feels the city’s essential character is under threat.

He served as a staff member at Sarasota County Historical Resources for some 12 years. During that time, in addition to his writing, Jeff lectured widely on Sarasota County to any group seeking knowledge of the area’s past. He continues this educational mission right up to the present. As the county’s chief historian he helped many scholars navigate through the voluminous records of Historical Resources. 

Jeff has been honored for his work as a scholar and educator by several groups including the Caledonian Club of Florida West. In 2014 he received the prestigious Florida Trust for Historic Preservation award for Outstanding Contributions to Preservation for his video “Sarasota: Landmarks of the Past.”



The recipient of the Historic Structure Preservation Award for 2018 is Howard W. Davis for conserving and repurposing the Baker’s Badcock Furniture Store at 1570 Boulevard of the Allies in the Rosemary District of the Sarasota City. The building is now known at the BOTA Center, the initials of the street upon which it stands.

The BOTA Center was built in 1957 and is described by experts as an “outstanding, relatively unaltered example of a modern commercial storefront as evidenced by its use of concrete, glass, and steel, emphasis on horizontality and rejection of exterior ornamentation, all of which typify the style.” It served its neighborhood for nearly 50 years as a furniture store, but was closed in 2005 and remained empty for over a decade. The Badcock family passed over other possible buyers in favor of Mr., Davis, who pledged to rehabilitate the structure, preserve its historically significant features, and adapt it for a new use rather than tear it down. Thus the family and Mr. Davis are representative of a national Trust for Historic Preservation program called Re-Urbanism. The essential idea is that building reuse encourages economic growth and stimulates vibrant communities. The BOTA Center was judged to be an excellent example of this idea by the Sarasota City government, the Sarasota Alliance for Historical Preservation, and the Rosemary District Neighborhood Association.

Howard is praised for securing historical designation from the City, and then fully rehabilitating the structure while respecting those qualities that made it historic. He is now in the process of renting out the property to various businesses. Mr. Michael Bush of the Rosemary District Neighborhood Association praises Mr. Davis for making the former Badcock Furniture Building “a vital part of our neighborhood.” Mr. Bush also seems particularly happy that Mr. Davis did not clear the lot and build another towering block of condominiums such as those standing across the street from the BOTA Center. As the nominator's notes, “historic places help define and distinguish our communities by building a strong sense of identity.” And this is what the BOTA Center is meant to do.

Mr. Davis, the innovative private entrepreneur who made the BOTA project possible, is from Boston and earned a B. A degree in history from Ohio State, a master’s degree in urban planning from MIT, and a law degree from Boston University He has 35 years of experience in real estate as a developer, consultant, attorney, and teacher. Much of his work has been in Boston, but as a part-time resident of Sarasota he has been involved in local urban infill projects.



For a life-time of committed and consequential service to the cause of preservation and history in Sarasota County as an educator and as founder and leader of multiple associations, the History and Preservation Coalition presents Elizabeth Intagliata with the first Lillian Burns Individual Achievement Award. Like Lillian Burns, Betty began her professional life as a teacher, but by the 1980s she was a leading businesswoman in Venice and became a cofounder of Venice Main Street, Inc. In 1991 she founded the Venice Area Historical Society. Time does not permit a thorough account of all the organizations she founded or served as a board member. Her nomination papers emphasize key area where she was particularly influential.

First, she has been instrumental in preserving historic structures. These include the Historic Venice Train Depot where she successfully won city of Venice support. She also formed in 2003 a volunteer docent program to explain the Depot’s historical importance. Betty has also been a leader in the struggle to save the Lord-Higel House, the oldest in Venice. She was an original member of the Friends Board. As president of the Board of the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center Betty led a successful effort to maintain the historic Chidsey building in Sarasota as a history museum and history education center.

Secondly, Betty has initiated many important education programs. Besides the docent organization, she developed a curriculum on Venice history for elementary schools. Later she established a joint program with the Venice Middle School in which students and their mentors interviewed on tape circus performers among others. She also worked with WEDU to produce a documentary on the talented planner of Venice, John Nolen.

For many people, Betty will always be remembered for her portrayals of Bertha Honoré Palmer, Mable Ringling, and Louella Albee. She performed in costume and what she said to audiences was based on careful historical study. It was a different way, an entertaining way, to teach history, and she always has been very good at it.

Betty Intagliata has been honored many times, perhaps most significantly as recipient of the Individual Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation in 2015. After 35 years of excellent service she has become the great lady of Sarasota County in history and preservation. It is fitting she should receive this award named for another great lady who defined that role. 




The committee is delighted to present the first Organizational Achievement Award to the Sarasota Architectural Foundation. Founded in 2003, the SAF devotes itself to the celebration and explanation of that famed group of talented architect’s collectively known as the Sarasota School of Architecture. Founded by Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph and including Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, Tim Seibert, Jack West, and Carl Abbott. As the nominator notes, between 1945 and 1975, the Sarasota School f Architects adapted European modern architectural experiments of the 1920s and 1930s to the particular conditions of the Florida climate. In those 30 years the Sarasota School of Architects left a glorious heritage of distinctive structures that burnished Sarasota’s reputation as a vibrant cultural center.

As a principle keeper of the flame of the remarkable achievements of these architects, the SAF has long organized tours of homes, sponsored lectures, and fought to preserve important structures designed by the Sarasota School of Architects such as the rehabilitation of the Paul Rudolph-designed Sarasota High School Addition. They have raised money to repair structures as well as $250,000 to erect a full-scale replica of the 1952 Paul Rudolph-designed Walker Guest House on the grounds of the Ringling Museum. SAF volunteers have led tours through the replica for thousands of visitors.

The complete list of the activities of this volunteer organizations both lengthy and very impressive.Of note, they maintain a scholarship program that has awarded over $36,000 to 12 Florida high school graduates. They also mount an annual three-day event known as known as the “Sarasota Mod Weekend, with over events that draws visitors from all over the nation and the world. Finally, as 2018 is the centennial of Paul Rudolph’s birth, the SAF is planning many special events.

The awards committee was struck by the energy and focus of this organization, as well as its many contributions to the cause of history and preservation. Accepting the Organizational Achievement Award is the chair of the Board of Directors of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation Dr. Christopher Wilson, who is a faculty member at Ringling College.