Newsletter – April 2011

Vol. 1 No. 1

Welcome to the Inaugural William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway Newsletter!

Hello, allow me to introduce myself, I am Al Abbatiello, Chairman of the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway (WBSH) late 2005. I moved to St Johns County from St. Louis Mo. in 1997, so relatively speaking I am a new comer to the historic St. Augustine area. We are very excited to introduce you to our first quarterly William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway electronic newsletter. Since the Scenic Highways inception in 1997, through the dedication and persistence of northwest St. Johns County residents, in particular our previous Chairperson, Mary Cornwell, we have been very busy with the Florida Scenic Highway program. Our mission is to preserve, protect and maintain the Scenic Highway intrinsic (historic, archaeological, natural, scenic, cultural and recreational) resources. Through out this process we have been active in keeping abreast of the proposed developments in our area and protecting the stately famous centennial “Governor Oaks” which gracefully, drape across and define our Scenic Highway. After we were designated as an official Florida Scenic Highway, October 2005, and there after awarded a National Scenic Byway grant in 2006, we have been busy with many projects such as officially becoming a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, as well as completing our Master Plan and new membership brochure (designed by AECOM); Web Site and electronic newsletter (designed by GOLD) and finally, thirty four (34) Oral Histories, (by Brockington Cultural Resources Consulting). Please feel free to view our First Coast Chapter APA award winning WBSH – Master Plan on line at and our entire web site at

The month of April is a culturally busy month with the annual William Bartram Bash as well as other spring activities throughout St Johns County, some of which are listed in the right hand column of this newsletter.

“Time and effort is also being spent discussing ways and means to ensure our state and local government policy makers know what is required to keep our Scenic Highway’s scenic”. As with many other civic minded organizations, we are also looking for new members to help us with our various sub-committees to keep our organization moving forward. In the coming quarterly newsletters I will discuss this issue further; but, in the mean time, we will keep you informed about our recent projects and various other activities. – Al –

Meet Your Neighbors

Meet Your Neighbors

Mary Cornwell is the first featured neighbor we would like to introduce you to. The Cornwell Family has lived in northeast Florida for fourty-one (41) years and Mary decided to move her family to the Switzerland area thirty-one (31) years ago from Atlantic Beach, when no one wanted to move to Switzerland because it was to far away from everything. But Mary recognized the immense beauty and the rich history of the area. Her passion and love for the area was revealed through her leadership, drive, dedication and promotion of the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway (WBSH), as Chairperson of this organization from 1997-2005. Finally, after eight (8) years of going through the cumbersome Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Scenic Highway process, WBSH became an official designated as a state Scenic Highway in October 2005. Mary as well as other members of the WBSH Corridor Management Council (CMC) worked diligently and attended many, many Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meetings during this last 2000 development boom era and frequently spoke in opposition of any proposed development in the northwest area that CMC members saw as a threat to their mission of preserving and protecting and maintaining famous “Governor Oaks” as well as, other intrinsic resources located along their uniquely beautiful Scenic Highway. Mary was also very outspoken and passionate about educating the many newcomers about the northwest area’s rich history. The Times Union captures this in an article written on June 12, 1999 at stories/061299/ner_m4bartra.html.

“Without Mary Cornwell’s energy, leadership, perseverance, dedication, foresight and knowledge the Scenic Highway might not have existed. Thank You Mary.” – Al –

Recent Events

Canoe At Trout Creek

On February 25, 2011 the St. Johns River Alliance held their meeting in the St Johns County Administration Commissioner’s chambers. The WBSH activities and projects, as well as other county projects in the area were discussed. Robert Fitzgerald attended this function for the WBSH.

April 2-3, 2011 the Florida Wildflower & Garden Festival was held in downtown Deland. For those that attended this festival, it was a beautiful spring day with may exhibitors who sold native wildflowers and landscape materials as well as, Florida Friendly landscape materials and gardening tools and furniture. The closed street area of downtown Deland was well attended.

On April 4, 2011 Beverly Fleming, St. Johns River Naturalist was a speaker at the Ixia & Sea Oats Native Plant Society’s special event on Wild and Edible Native Vegetation out at Alpine Groves Park. This was a well attended lecture with twenty five (25) active listeners.

The Switzerland Garden Club is celebrating its fiftieth (50) anniversary this month by selling raffle tickets to give away prizes like a home made quilt, a porcelain collectable by Lynn Chase, and a Seascape oil painting. All proceeds from the raffle ticket sale will go toward funding tree plantings along the scenic highway. Help this successful Garden Club celebrate its fiftieth anniversary by contacting Claire Fioriti at 287-9772 and purchasing a few raffle tickets.

At the William Bartram Bash, Beverly Fleming, St. Johns River Naturalist will be releasing native Painted Lady butterflies at the Bartram Bash at 1:30 pm. The Painted Lady butterflies are known as the thistle butterfly plant because this is where they mainly lay their eggs on the leaves before they hatch into tiny butterflies. Once the butterflies mature they eat the nectar from the thistle, clover, as well as most asters like flowers. The geographic range for these types of butterflies is from Florida to Nova Scotia.

Ongoing Projects

Dan Manley, AECOM Project Manager is preparing the View Shed Analysis for the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway. At our next meeting on April 14, 2011, Dan will be conducting an educational seminar at the WBSH Corridor Management Council (CMC) meeting beginning at 6:30 pm. This meeting will be held at the St. Johns County Annex at 725 Flora Branch Blvd., St. Johns County, Fl.

Once this project is completed it will identify which view shed along the scenic highway that will be protected from various modern improvements.


William Bartram, as re-enacted by Mike Adams, will be speaking and sharing William Bartram’s life stories at the annual William Bartram Bash on April 17, 2011 from 10:00 am. to 4:00 pm.

Brockington and Associates is in the process of working on a interpretative historical timeline on a three-five (3-5) minute video of the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway beginning with the Timucuan Indians and proceeding through time with audio and video excerpts from Charlie Philip’s, oral histories from the scenic highway’s oldest residents.

Other educational interpretation projects are being plan now for the Scenic Highway’s future use; however, this will depend on future funding availability.