On Thursday, April 20 at 6:00pm, Key West Art & Historical Society welcomes Distinguished Speaker Series guest Sara Ayers-Rigsby, Director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at Florida Atlantic University, to the Helmerich Research & Learning Center on the third floor of the Custom House Museum. Ayers-Rigsby will offer a presentation that will explore former top secret sites associated with the Cold War that were located in the Everglades and throughout South Florida.
“Cold War archaeology is part of what archaeologists often refer to as contemporary archaeology, which is the study of the recent past,” says Ayers-Rigsby. “It is exactly what it sounds like—the study of artifacts from the Cold War— and is fascinating because the sites can be huge, like a missile site, or very small, like someone’s backyard shelter.”
These overgrown, forgotten sites served as the front-lines during this fascinating period, when “quiet residential neighborhoods were havens for undercover operatives while the swamps and forests served as training grounds,” says Ayers-Rigsby.
With its close proximity to Cuba, the Keys were “ground zero” for the Cold War, she says. Sites include the Key West Naval Air Station, a radio station the CIA used to beam programming into Cuba, and a ferry terminal where supply ships were based.
The sites, coupled with oral histories collected from those who lived in the area during those times, serve as foundation to better understanding our past while preserving them for the future.
“It’s critical that we try to preserve them and learn from them now before they are lost forever.”
The Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsored in part by the Helmerich Trust, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida. Additional support provided by the Marriott Key West Beachside Resort.
Tickets are available through kwahs.org/education/distinguished_speaker_series; $5 for members, $10 for non-members. For more information contact Adele Williams, Director of Education, at 305-295-6616, x115. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.