KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – As a 15-year-old, Don Morgan used to go to the Keystone Beach Pavilion and listen to concerts. Today, as a member of the Keystone Heights Heritage Commission, Morgan, who is 85, …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – As a 15-year-old, Don Morgan used to go to the Keystone Beach Pavilion and listen to concerts. Today, as a member of the Keystone Heights Heritage Commission, Morgan, who is 85, is leading an effort to restore the pavilion to the way it looked and functioned in 1921.
“It was used for entertaining, they had little orchestras that would play and … the sound was all over the area,” said Morgan, who is an architect and Heritage Commission board member. “[The project] will restore the original building is what we’re hoping to do and we hope function like it used to do.”
After opposing previous efforts to restore the pavilion due to costs, Morgan said restoring the pavilion is a way to recapture one of the city’s historic assets.
“We feel any restoration of original architecture is a benefit to the history of the town, of course, and our goal of the Heritage Commission,” Morgan said.
At the Feb. 6 meeting of the city council’s Community Redevelopment Agency, Morgan said initial details of the restoration project include installing a warming kitchen and disability-compliant restrooms. In his career, Morgan designed the current Keystone Heights City Hall, Clay High and Keystone Heights High, the first phase of the current Clay County Jail and much more. However, he will not be the architect designing this project.
“With a little imagination and creative thinking, whoever ends up designing this thing, I think we can utilize the existing posts and beams and stairs to provide at least 20-30 seats out in front without disturbing the playground,” Morgan said. “It’s not going to be a tear down and start over type thing.”
When asked by Mayor Tony Brown about the pavilion’s old changing rooms, Morgan said, they were not included in the new proposal.
“We decided the old changing areas are kind of obsolete – they were only 3 by 4 and, so that wouldn’t be practical today. I would imagine if we are going to get into changing [rooms], that’s a whole new area of code requirements and it would have to be a little bigger, plus it would mean more bucks,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he and fellow Heritage Commission members view the restored pavilion as a gathering place for community and civic groups.
“I think if we get the civic organizations behind us, they could probably use it every day of the week and then they can bring in special programs and very possibly, wed us to the past, I guess is what we’re supposed to do,” Morgan said.
In an attempt to get CRA members excited about the restoration proposal, Morgan presented two white boards with photos showing the pavilion in its current state and how it looked in 1921. He also had a drawing of what a redesigned bandshell would look like.
“The bandshell was circular – half a bowl – that projected sound when they first had the construction and they built the inn and they had people come down here and stay while they were looking into the area and buying land… And they would have speakers come in and stand up there and the bandshell actually projects – it’s a giant megaphone – and it projected the sounds without electrical embellishments.”
Neither Morgan nor CRA members discussed projected costs of restoring the pavilion at the Feb 6 meeting. Morgan said costs will be more realistic once the community gives input at an April 6 public forum. He also said he and the Commission – in coordination with city hall – will seek state historic grants to fund the project.
Morgan said he wants “to basically bring in the people in the community, spend some time with their memories, what do they recall it being used for and then spend some additional time getting public input as to what the uses of the pavilion could be made.”
The Heritage Commission will hold the pavilion “Visioning Workshop” on April 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the pavilion.