May 2016 – Everglades National Park and the SFNPT have launched a campaign to restore the park’s Flamingo Visitor Center with support from American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the public.
With its distinctive breezeway and bright pink exterior, the Flamingo Visitor Center has served as a gateway to the Everglades and Florida Bay since the 1960s. The waterfront building was damaged in 2005 by back-to-back hurricanes and is now in need of repair.
Everglades National Park is one of 20 national parks competing for $2 million in grant funding from the National Trust. The grants will be awarded to the national parks that win the most public votes during an online voting campaign from May 25 to July 5.
To secure the funding needed to restore the Flamingo Visitor Center, Everglades National Park and the SFNPT are encouraging everyone to go to VoteYourPark.org and vote for the Everglades. The public can vote once a day for their favorite park until July 5.
“Everglades National Park needs everyone to get behind this project, to help restore the Flamingo Visitor Center and create support for a larger rebuilding effort in Flamingo,” said Pedro Ramos, superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks.
The Flamingo Visitor Center was built by the National Park Service in the early 1960s as part of a “Mission 66” program to modernize national parks for a new generation of park visitors. Mission 66 transformed the national park system by adding new visitor centers, administrative buildings, campgrounds, roads and trails to parks across the country.
Mission 66 also ushered in a new style of park architecture, a style known as Park Service Modern. The Flamingo Visitor Center combines Park Service Modern architecture with tropical touches that shout Miami and make the building distinct – pink paint, a keystone veneer, jalousie windows and a covered breezeway.
A $250,000 grant from the National Trust’s Partners in Preservation program would repair the exterior of the building, restore the historic landscape and improve the visitor experience while supporting the goal of opening a new visitor center inside the building.
The park recently completed a design study for interior renovations that would transform the building’s former restaurant into a new visitor center and bookstore with exhibits on the Everglades and sweeping views of Florida Bay.
The study is part of a larger plan to revive the entire Flamingo district inside the park by adding overnight lodging (24 elevated cottages and 20 eco-tents) a restaurant for casual family dining, and new visitor services. The park is seeking a business partner to provide commercial services in Flamingo for the next 20 years. Proposals are due July 13.
The Partners in Preservation program, launched in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, gives everyone an opportunity to support the park’s rebuilding efforts by casting a vote for the Everglades at VoteYourPark.org and sharing on social media with hashtag #VoteEverglades.
Restoring the Flamingo Visitor Center to its former glory through a Partners in Preservation grant will connect a new generation of visitors to this iconic spot and serve as a catalyst for the rejuvenation of the entire Flamingo Mission 66 district.