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On Monday, May 23, 2022, the St. Augustine City Commission will present the 2022 Adelaide Sanchez Award for Historic Education and Interpretation to Margo Cox Pope during a special gathering at 4:30pm, just prior to the regularly scheduled City Commission meeting.
The presentation, which is open to the public, will be held in The Alcazar Room of City Hall, located at 75 King St., and may be viewed via live-stream online at www.CityStAugTV.com, where it will be available for on-demand viewing the following day.
On March 28, 2022, the St. Augustine City Commission unanimously supported Commissioner John Valdes in his nomination of Pope as the recipient of this year’s award. Nominations for the Adelaide Sanchez Award are made by a member of the St. Augustine City Commission and approved by the full commission. The award may have two recipients annually, one recognizing work in historic education and interpretation and the other for work in historic preservation and restoration.
A native of St. Augustine, Pope attended St. Johns River Junior College in 1968 and received her Associate in Arts degree. She went on to study at the University of Florida and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Communications. She began her career after graduation at the Florida Times-Union, where she worked for 18 years.
Pope left the Times-Union at the request of The St. Augustine Record (The Record) to become their managing editor. When she returned to St. Augustine in 1988, she worked full-time at The Record until her retirement in 2012. Among her many duties at The Record, she held positions as managing editor, features editor, special projects editor, local columnist, associate editor, and editorial page editor. Upon her departure from the Times-Union, she was the features department assignments and features editor.
In 2014, Pope went back to The Record as a special projects writer and continues today, writing “Pope’s View”, a special features column covering important local issues and current events.
While journalism was Pope’s career, the preservation and presentation of the Peña-Peck House, the work of the Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine, and her role with the Textile Arts Guild of St. Augustine, has been her passion. And it is her life’s work in those areas that has garnered this recognition by the City Commission.
Pope has spent decades protecting and lengthening the life of Peña-Peck House, not only focusing on the historic structure, but also showcasing its residents. In 2011, as part of preparing for the City’s 450th celebration, she provided leadership for the committee that created the Visitor Orientation Center in the former museum room.
She has been a member of the Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine since 1993, served as President from 2000-2002, and is currently the chair of the History Committee. As such, Pope is responsible for ensuring the authentic history of the Peña-Peck House, as well as providing the Woman’s Exchange to visitors. She was elected on the national level to the Federation of Women’s Exchanges board in 2003, then served as president of the Federation from 2007-2009, the first local member to hold that position.
As an active member with the Textile Arts Guild of St. Augustine since 2001, Pope participated in a St. Augustine Tapestry that was produced by the Guild in 2003 and presented to the city of Aviles, Spain, our Sister City. Her image was a cross-stitch of the Cathedral of St. Augustine. She also contributed to the 450th tapestry by the City in 2015, which was also a cross-stitched piece.
In other ways, Pope has been instrumental in various public demonstrations in the St. Johns County and St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, the Spanish Quarter, and public libraries promoting historic stitchery, especially 15th century Blackwork Stitchery.
Dr. Susan Parker, Executive Director for the St. Augustine Historical Society, and lifelong friend (since grade school) and preservation colleague, said of Ms. Pope, “While the Pena-Peck House is the closest to her heart, her concern radiates to other historic treasures and informing the public of their importance.” Pope and Parker both grew up in St. Augustine where history abounded around them. Parker also noted, “Growing up, our local history was the story. If there was information out there built on lore, Margo would look to see if was true. She has a dedication and intensity to be truthful to the stories we tell.”
In the St. Augustine community, Pope is respected and well-known for her love of our history and her passion for sharing it, making it accessible to all through various media opportunities.
The award’s namesake was a native of St. Augustine and worked at the St. Augustine Record from 1930 through 1943 where she was a reporter, features writer, society editor and the Associated Press correspondent. She joined the staff of The Miami Herald where she worked for 30 years serving as Assistant Woman’s Editor covering numerous society events during that city’s very formative three decades. After her retirement in 1973, she returned to St. Augustine and continued writing until her death in 1994 through newsletters for the Flagler Hospital Auxiliary and Trinity Episcopal Church and biographical sketches that were included in the program for Cross and Sword.
But it is her appreciation and love of the city’s historic properties, and her active promotion to ensure the preservation of those resources, that garnered this award being named in her honor. Indeed, her support of historic resources is a classic example of one who “walked the walk.”
In accordance with her wishes, her home on Marine St. was bequeathed to the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board. After the board’s abolishment, the property was transferred to the City of St. Augustine and sold with the proceeds being held in trust, as per her wishes, with the interest earned being designated for awards, programs and stipends with the goal of advancing the interests of historic restoration, preservation, education and interpretation.
Recipients of the Adelaide Sanchez Award for Historic Preservation, Restoration, Education and Interpretation receive a statuette of the lions that grace the western side of the Bridge of Lions. The molds for the replicas were crafted by St. Augustine sculptor Enzo Torcoletti.
Previous recipients of the Adelaide Sanchez Award are: