After 27 years as St. Augustine’s city archaeologist, recently retired Carl Halbirt will return to St. Augustine’s City Hall to become the latest recipient of the Order of La Florida during a presentation by the city commission on Monday, February 12. The ceremony will begin at 4pm and be held in The Alcazar Room, 75 King Street. The public is invited to attend.
Halbirt served as the city’s archaeologist from 1990 to 2017 after having worked in various locations in the American Southwest for 16 years. During his time with the city, Halbirt conducted more than 800 archaeological projects as part of the city’s Archaeological Preservation Ordinance. A sought-after speaker and prolific writer, Halbirt has published papers in professional journals and presented his research and findings at conferences nearly one hundred times in his more than four decades as an archaeologist.
The Order of La Florida was created by the city commission in 1975 to recognize a person “who over a long period of time has unselfishly devoted his or her time and talent to the welfare and betterment of St. Augustine’s citizens and heritage, who has exemplified the finest qualities of citizenship, and has contributed extraordinary services to the community.” Recipients must be 55 years of age and there may not be more than nine living recipients at any one time. A nomination originates with a member of the city commission and is presented to the city manager who then puts it before the entire commission for confirmation. Halbirt was nominated by Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline.
Although the majority of Halbirt’s work in St. Augustine were projects that dealt with materials dating to the historic era, 1565 to the early 20th century, some projects have delved into the prehistoric era. The data unearthed have enabled Halbirt to gain a unique perspective of St. Augustine’s archaeological landscape.
In many ways, Halbirt’s active role interpreting St. Augustine’s unique cultural heritage through public outreach programs and civic organizations served to popularize archaeology in St. Augustine. When projects were taking place in any highly visible part of the city, Halbirt would always take time to explain his work and finds to interested visitors who eagerly listened.
Halbirt’s recognitions include the Individual Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation (2015), the Ripley P. Bullen Award from the Florida Anthropological Society (2008), and the Employee of the Year Award from the City of St. Augustine (2001). In 2015 the city’s archaeology program under Halbirt’s leadership was recognized by the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation as a Preservation America Steward.
To learn more about the work of the City Archaeologist, visit www.citystaug.com/archaeology.