NFCC’s Historic Conference Center Remains Open To The Public
The Wardlaw-Smith-Goza Conference Center is now operating as a self-supporting enterprise that no longer receives financial support from North Florida Community College’s general operating budget. The shift in funding was approved by the NFCC District Board of Trustees and considered a necessary change as the college prioritizes expenditures amidst another year of reduced state funding. A special announcement regarding the change was sent to NFCC’s “Friends of the Mansion” members in June.
“Over the years, Friends of the Mansion members have made monetary donations, volunteered time, and shown a great love for NFCC’s historic conference center,” said Maria Greene, WSG Conference Center Coordinator. “We are making changes, but our annual membership drive is currently underway and we continue to hold events, weddings and tours in the Mansion. It’s business as usual for now as we look for ways to build extra revenue.”
Greene is looking as far ahead as June 2012 with her current budget and needs the continued support of donors and the community. According to NFCC President John Grosskopf, the College is also actively seeking partnerships or alternative solutions that can keep the WSG Conference Center open to the public; even if that means taking NFCC out of the equation.
“NFCC is very proud of its tenure as the primary steward of this very important local treasure; however, we are now in a position where we must align all of our resources to the fulfillment of our primary mission, and we cannot continue to fund this endeavor,” said Grosskopf. “We will be working to find our successor to take over from here.”
The Wardlaw-Smith-Goza Conference Center, listed in the Historic American Building Survey and the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1860. NFCC purchased the WSG Conference Center property in 1988 through a Florida legislative appropriation to preserve and use it as a conference center for the six rural counties which the College serves.
Many of the antique furnishings and accessories inside the Mansion are loaned or donated by individuals within the area and according to Greene, these items will be handled with the upmost respect in regards to the donor or owner, whatever the future brings for the Mansion.
“The Mansion has become a valued icon in our community, full of history and character,” said Greene. “I appreciate all the community support, especially our Friends of the Mansion members, and ask for continued support and feedback as we work to build the future of the Wardlaw-Smith-Conference Center.”