Dade Heritage Trust Honors Coral Gables Museum With 2019 Preservation Award

On Thursday, April 11, the Coral Gables Museum received Dade Heritage Trust’s esteemed Preservation Award, in recognition of the Museum’s ongoing efforts to restore the Lincoln Memorial Park cemetery grounds and thereby preserve the site’s rich history. This year’s event, which celebrates outstanding achievements in local conservation efforts, was held at the Scottish Rite Temple in Downtown Miami’s Lummus Park Historic District, where the nonprofit also unveiled its “Most Endangered Sites” list for 2019.

“This recognition by such a prestigious institution as Dade Heritage Trust is enormously important to us, and inspires us to continue our efforts, not only at Lincoln, but elsewhere,” said John Allen, Coral Gables Museum Executive Director. “The documents and ledgers we have been working on transcribing date back over 100 years. In many cases, they are probably the only proof of the existence of many of the people buried at Lincoln. The reason all these good things have come about is really pretty simple. As a Museum team, we simply felt it was the right thing to do.”

The Museum’s involvement with Lincoln Memorial Park began in earnest in January 2018, with only a handful of volunteers and museum staff.  Within months, more than 100 volunteers joined the museum’s efforts in clearing debris, removing massive amounts of overgrowth, and repairing and cleaning the graves, which are primarily comprised of above-ground concrete vaults. The museum also conducted research on funeral home records to identify the names and locations of those buried so descendants can find their relatives. 

In August 2018, the Coral Gables Museum unveiled an exhibition chronicling its efforts, which would ultimately garner local and critical acclaim. “Sacred Ground: The Rise, Fall & Revival of Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery” showcased documents and objects from the archives and grounds of Lincoln Memorial Park for the first time in history. The “Caretakers” component of the exhibition included an accompanying photographic essay and documentary video on the project by award-winning Miami Heraldphotographer Carl Juste and photographer C. W. Griffin.

Lincoln Memorial Park serves as the final resting place for many prominent black leaders, including famed Civil Rights activist Athalie Range; Gwen Cherry, the first female elected to the Florida Legislature; D. A. Dorsey, the son of former slaves who became Miami’s first black millionaire and a banker, philanthropist and sold what became known as Fisher Island to Carl Fisher; and Kelsey Pharr, Miami’s first licensed African-American mortician and longtime owner of the cemetery. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers who served in conflicts ranging from the Spanish-American War to Vietnam are buried there, many in unmarked or unlocated graves. A significant number of those buried in the cemetery were employed in the 1920s in the creation and construction of Coral Gables.

About Dade Heritage Trust

Dade Heritage Trust (DHT) is Miami-Dade County’s largest preservation organization. Founded in 1972 as a grassroots organization to save and protect Miami-Dade County’s historic buildings, DHT’s mission is to preserve our community’s architectural, environmental and cultural heritage. Through a variety of programs, advocacy projects, special events, exhibits and presentations, DHT furthers the mission by engaging Miami-Dade residents and visitors in preservation education.

About the Coral Gables Museum 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Coral Gables Museum presents exhibits and programs that celebrate, investigate and explore the civic arts while fostering an appreciation for the history, vision and cultural landscape of the 1920s planned community of Coral Gables. As the Official Visitor Center of Coral Gables, the museum offers downtown walking tours, exhibit tours, bike tours and waterway canoe tours. The museum also presents exhibit-related events, including curator’s tours, lectures, panel discussions and concerts. In service to K-12 students, the museum offers school tours, camp and Family Day. 

Works from the permanent collections, along with a rotation of temporary exhibitions, are on view in the Museum’s galleries Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. For more information,