UWF, West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. and Gulf Power unveil plans for Multicultural Resource Center
Gulf Power Company and Southern Company have donated $605,000 to the West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. (WFHPI) to transform one of its downtown properties, the Beacon Building, into “The Voices of Pensacola,” a multicultural resource center highlighting the city’s diverse history.
“Gulf Power’s vision of an active center celebrating the multicultural history of our region, is now going to be realized in the renovation of the Beacon Building. ‘The Voices of Pensacola’ will be a place where people of all ages will gather, learn, and tell their stories,” said Bentina Terry, Vice President for External Affairs and Corporate Services at Gulf Power.
The new center will feature displays representing the varied cultural groups who have shaped Pensacola’s history. Potential exhibits will showcase the Native American, Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Greek, Jewish and European cultures.
It will also include: two stages for oral history, storytelling, and musical performances; two acoustically controlled Aural Exhibit spaces where oral histories can be heard and recorded; a research room; computer research stations and more.
“I’m truly excited about the numerous benefits this multicultural resource center will bring to our community,” said Kyle Marrero, former Vice President for University Advancement at UWF.
“This project will contribute to the revitalization of downtown Pensacola, further enhance UWF’s academic resources, and boost the university’s growing national reputation in the field of public history,” Marrero said. “It will also strengthen the community by providing a way for the diverse cultures of Pensacola to come together and celebrate their triumphs, learn from their failures, save their histories and connect. The university is grateful to Gulf Power and Southern Company for its generous donation that has made the project possible.”
The Beacon Building, formally known as the Norman Simons Building, is located at 110 Church St. in downtown Pensacola. It was built in 1912 by S. F. Fulgham & Co. for D. Kugelman & Co., a wholesale grocer. Since then, it has housed several other wholesale grocers, wholesale liquor companies and the Pensacola Cigar and Tobacco Co.
The Pensacola Historical Society purchased the building in 1990, renaming it in honor of G. Norman Simons, the society’s deceased curator and well-respected local historian.