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  • Originally published 02/20/2014

    The truth about Florida's Civil War history

    150 years ago a brutal battle in the Civil War was fought in Florida but what happened that day has been obscured by political games and historical revisionism -- as so often happens in the Sunshine State.

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    Man finds gold treasure in Everglades

    A Florida man who went hunting for pythons in Florida’s Everglades returned instead with a mysterious treasure: an antique, diamond-studded gold medallion that could date back to the 17th century.How the handmade, penny-sized amulet got there is a riddle. One theory is it could have been aboard a ValuJet plane that crashed nearby in May 1996 – or that perhaps it was part of the debris field from an Eastern Airlines crash in the same area in 1972. The fact that it is partially melted on one side could support that idea.But wherever it came from, Mark Rubinstein, the eagle-eyed snake hunter who found it, is determined to get it back home....

  • Originally published 04/02/2013

    T.D. Allman: Ponce de León, Exposed

    T.D. Allman is the author, most recently, of “Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State.”THIS week is the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León’s purported discovery of Florida. Commemorations include the unveiling of “The First Landing,” a larger-than-life statue of Ponce in Melbourne Beach, as well as the introduction by the Postal Service of “La Florida,” a four-stamp series timed to honor what is being presented as the founding moment in our country’s history.These celebrations are a fiesta of illusion. As Spain’s conquistadors discovered, and we too often forget, Florida is like Play-Doh. Take the goo; mold it to your dream. Then watch the dream ooze back into goo. Contrary to what our school books taught us, Ponce did not discover Florida. He never did much of anything here except get himself killed.

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Professor digitizing centuries-old records that reveal tales of Florida’s first residents

    ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Inside a Catholic convent deep in St. Augustine’s historic district, stacks of centuries-old, sepia-toned papers offer clues to what life was like for early residents of the nation’s oldest permanently occupied city.These parish documents date back to 1594, and they record the births, deaths, marriages and baptisms of the people who lived in St. Augustine from that time through the mid-1700s. They’re the earliest written documents from any region of the United States, according to J. Michael Francis, a history professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.Francis and some of his graduate students in the Florida Studies department have spent the past several months digitizing the more than 6,000 fragile pages to ensure the contents last beyond the paper’s deterioration.

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    A Fight Over Historic Preservation Brews in Art Deco Country

    MIAMI BEACH — When South Beach was little more than a forlorn chunk of beachfront property, preservationists clung to the idea that the faded, often derelict pastel buildings lining the streets were too precious to knock down.Their campaign to preserve the area’s fanciful Art Deco buildings ushered in one of the country’s most successful urban revivals. Years later, South Beach is still a juggernaut.Preservationists are now pushing hard to bolster historic preservation laws, a move that has ruffled wealthy property owners (and potential buyers) and stepped up pressure on local commissioners who are reluctant to wade into the politically precarious battle....

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