Flagler County Local History
We live in an area rich in history. The area designated as Flagler County today is one of the oldest settled areas in the United States. Much work has been accomplished by local historians, groups, and writers to document the rich background of where we live. Flagler County has a remarkable selection of preserved historical sites and places to visit.
Flagler County Memories Project
By the close of the Second Seminole War in 1842, Flagler County was virtually uninhabited. Almost all current residents of the county, or their forbearers, arrived here after that era. We represent a diverse cross section of ethnic and racial origins. We came from many places and for our own reasons; many were looking for the good life promised by land developers. What we brought to the experience, what we found here, and how we adapted create our own personal life stories.
The staff of the Flagler County Public Library and members of the Friends of the Library began an oral history project in 2001 as an effort to preserve samples of these memories and relevant images for the future. This collection of oral life histories seeks to sample the common themes and unique stories of selected local residents. The compact disc / digital format was selected as the best available method for recording the materials. There was no intent to create a history of the county or any of its cities, towns, or settlements, though individual stories often reflect those of the area.
For more information on the Memories Project, contact the library at (386) 446-6763.
Veteran's History Project
This is a nation-wide project whose purpose is to record the memories of US veterans who served in all branches of the Armed Forces. Once recorded and transcribed, these interviews will be preserved for all time in the Library of Congress. Patrons may view the images and transcripts and listen to the audio recordings using the Library’s public access computers. The images and text may be copied and printed. View the Library of Congress website.
While working on the Flagler Memories Project it became apparent that many County residents were veteran’s with stories to tell concerning their military service. Some of these veterans are long-time County residents, many more moved to the area in their retirement years. Together they have formed several military service organizations that actively serve the community. Their interest in military history has been a force for building the Library’s extensive collection of materials, particularly those relating to World War II.
If you are a veteran and would like to record your story or would like to recommend a veteran for the Project contact the library for more information at (386) 446-6763. (Funding for the Oral History Project is provided by the Friends of Library of Flagler County, Inc.)
The County Commission officially created the Flagler County Public Library in 1987, but its origins date back many years. As early as 1937 a room of the County Courthouse in Bunnell was set aside for a small library sponsored by the Colony Club. In 1950, the newly formed Woman’s Club of Flagler County also organized a library, but the city of Flagler Beach remained their primary area of activity and funding.
In late 1974, Pat Cafaro, a newcomer to Palm Coast and employee of ITT, decided to organize the Palm Coast Woman’s Club. She recognized the need for library reference material for students in the newly opened high school and rallied the club to establish a library. The closest public libraries were in Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach, presenting a problem for the new community. After advice and contact with the State Library System in Tallahassee, Pat Cafaro and Woman’s Club member Winifred Flanagan pursued the project. Mrs. Lois Fleming of the State Library system worked with the local group and in 1976 a formal proposal was made to create a Volusia County satellite library in Flagler County Library.
In 1978 The Woman’s Club encouraged the president of the Civic Association, Merhl Shoemaker, to join forces in the library effort as a bicentennial project. Together, they pursued the establishment of a county library system separate from Volusia. In 1980, the Palm Coast Library was opened in a small storefront shared with Daytona Beach Community College.
ITT then donated a piece of land at what was then the far end of Palm Harbor Shopping Villages and contributed the services of an architect. Merhl Shoemaker, now a County Commissioner, persuaded his fellow Commissioners to set aside $40,000 to be used as a matching fund for a grant from the State of Florida. By 1983 a small library was built and serviced entirely by volunteers. Book sales provided funds for shelving, desks and books. The Woman’s Club continued their active participation, providing staffing on Mondays of each week. A retired Librarian, Betty Miller, organized the collection and trained volunteers. Soon the space was outgrown, and once again state grants and county funds were obtained. The expanded facility was increased to 5,600 square feet.
On February 19, 1987, the Flagler County Public Library became an agency of county government under Flagler County Ordinance #87-4. A professional Librarian was employed and The Friends of the Library donated all of their purchases to the newly established county entity.
By the mid 1990’s the Library facility was again outgrown, due to the rapid growth of the county. Sandra Rose Friedman, president of the Friends of the Library, began a discussion of the need for a new library of sufficient size to provide for the collections, programs and services needed by Flagler’s citizens. In 1996 a Public Library Construction Grant Application was submitted to the State Library. A $400,000 construction grant was awarded in August of 1997 to help fund the construction of the facility. The nicely wooded, 19-acre site donated by ITT, is located at the intersection of Palm Coast Parkway West and Belle Terre Parkway.
Ground breaking for the new library was held on October 19, 1998. Completion was projected for November 1999 with occupancy shortly thereafter. Design of the library was by Harvard, Jolly, Clees and Toppe, Architects, of St. Petersburg. Hashman Construction Company was the contractor for the project.
The history of Flagler County’s Public Library is a chronicle of the hard work and vision of its citizens and elected leaders. Volunteers continue to play a major important role. No one holds this view more strongly than previous Library Director, Doug Cisney. He stated that "More recognition should be given for the strong community support provided by all the groups, elected officials, Friends, etc. over the years. Without this support, Flagler County wouldn’t be beginning the new millennium with the new 30,000 square foot library." The future success of the Library will depend on the continued active participation and support of these staunch allies as well as the infusion of new arrivals to the area.