Sylva G. Martin Community Center
Constructed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) in 1935, the Sylva G. Martin Community Center is a one-story masonry structure, built in a rectangular plan inspired by the simple bungalow. The high-quality stonework is its most notable feature with wall surfaces fashioned from local oolitic limestone, cut and finely laid in irregular courses. There are five bays across the front with a porch across three bays. A gable roof covers the main portion of the building with shed roofs over the front porch and rear. Four square piers of oolitic limestone support the front porch roof. The space between the porch piers is in-filled by low oolitic limestone walls and those at the central entrance bay have cast concrete flower boxes. The front entrance is centrally located and has three doors of vertical wood panels. Two large bas relief cast panels above the central doorway depict scenes of children engaged in sports and other recreational activities.
The center was once equipped with an auditorium, stage, dressing rooms, a complete kitchen and sanitation facilities. The original fireplace still graces the building’s interior and the mid-century addition of drop ceilings was removed in the 1980s to reveal the roof trusses, as original. Currently, the structure is used for the City’s planning office.
According to former mayor and city historian Paul Tevis the building was dedicated in February 1936. Through the years the building played an important role in the civic and social life of the area and is an integral part of the city’s history. At various times the center served as a meeting place for clubs and fraternal organizations, a hurricane shelter, polling place, public library and USO-style entertainment center, and community center.
Project originally submitted by Donna M. Shelley on September 13, 2016.