The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.
Issue link: http://digital.smallmarketmeetings.com/i/780603
www.smallmarketmeetings.com 40 Southern Meeting Guide And they're often physical testaments of the com- munity effort put into saving them. So holding a meet- ing in a historic venue means "you're not just coming to an event here; you're coming to an event in a building that has meaning," said Caroline Ponder, event coordi- nator for the restored 1926 Florentine Building in Birmingham, Alabama. Whether it's in a mansion on a former sugarcane plantation or in a former convent for Catholic nuns, the South's long and rich history offers planners countless historic venues for their meetings and events. P o n c e d e L e o n ' s F o u n t a i n o f Y o u t h Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth S t . A u g u s t i n e , F l o r i d a St. Augustine, Florida Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Park in St. Augustine, Florida, has an interesting story, one that seems a little backward. What started as a roadside attraction based around a legend later turned out to be an authentic historical site and archaeological gold- mine. H.H. Williams purchased the land in 1868 and was the first to start selling sips of water from the spring on his property, aka the Fountain of Youth for which Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León went search- ing in 1513, said Kit Keating, public relations director. The park has been in the Fraser family since 1927, and it was Walter Fraser's love of the legend that led him to preserve the 15-acre site on the banks of the Matanzas H i s t o r i c d e s t i - nations embody centu- ries of heritage. They tell the sto- ries of the people who lived, worked and gathered there. River and St. Augustine Inlet. Because Fraser made the property into a tourist attraction, "it was never devel- oped into real estate," Keating said. The accidental unearthing of a skull in 1934 led to the discovery that the park was both the location of the Timucuan village of Seloy and the site of Pedro Menendez de Aviles' original St. Augustine settlement in 1565. Researchers also discovered that the property was the location of the first Franciscan Mission Church in the United States, which dates to 1587. Today, visitors can still take sips of water from the "Fountain of Youth," explore the replica Timucua village and mission church, climb to the top of the watchtower, visit the working blacksmith shop and watch as a period cannon is fired on the hour. The planetarium also offers an 11-minute show about celestial naviga- tion of the 1500s. Groups can gather in the event pavilion, which is being expanded to accommodate up to 150 guests seated at tables or 300 for receptions. The Front Lawn can hold about 100 chairs, and the nearby Wisteria Arbor is available for smaller groups. www.fountainofyouthflorida.com F l o r e n t i n e B u i l d i n g Florentine Building B i r m i n g h a m , A l a b a m a Birmingham, Alabama The year was 1926, but architect Henry Upton Sims didn't design his building on the downtown The Historic South Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine features both historic areas and modern meeting facilities. By Rachel Carter