Front: PTB Executive Director Manny Leto, PTB Past President and Board Member Emily Elwyn, Mayor Ken Welch, PTB President Robin Reed, Board Member Bill Herrmann Back: Council Member Richie Floyd, Council Member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, Council Member Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Council Member Brandi Gabbard, Council Member Gina Driscoll, Council Member Lisset Hanewicz, Council Member Ed Montanari, Council Member Copley Gerdes On-Screen: PTB Founder Peter Belmont (Photography courtesy of Maria Flanagan Photography and the City of St. Petersburg)
Local preservation activist and Preserve the ‘Burg founding member Peter Belmont was presented with a key to the City of St. Petersburg by Mayor Ken Welch. The key to the City is the highest civilian honor and recognizes Belmont for his lifelong leadership and successful resume of local historic and environmental preservation efforts. The ceremony was held during the City CouncIl Meeting on Thursday, August 18, 2022, at St. Petersburg City Hall.
Belmont addressed the group via video stream, “I’m proud to have been an advocate for these many years and I’ve always felt that the advocacy group has a role, not only for St. Pete but in all of our communities, whether it be historic preservation, affordable housing, or most any other issues. Our job is to impart, kind of push the envelope, and to find a collaborative way to work with you and others to achieve our goals.”
City Council members Gina Driscoll and Ed Montanari expressed their gratitude for Belmont’s efforts and praised his passion for preservation. Preserve the ‘Burg leadership including Board President Robin Reed, Executive Director Manny Leto, and Past President and Board Member Emily Elwyn also expressed their appreciation for Belmont’s influence on the community and them personally.
Belmont’s influence and activism, especially in the realm of historic preservation, spans more than four decades. Belmont—through organizations like Booker Creek Preservation, Save our St. Pete, and Preserve the 'Burg—played a critical role in the preservation of the Vinoy Hotel, Detroit Hotel, Historic Roser Park, Crislip Arcade, Jennie Hall Pool, the Old Northeast and Kenwood neighborhoods, and many more iconic landmarks and districts. With a law degree in hand and a fierce drive for the St. Petersburg community, Belmont, along with other passionate residents, established St. Petersburg Preservation, Inc., today known as Preserve the ‘Burg. Belmont has blazed a trail for local preservation activists, one that continues to impact the city today.
"Peter forced the creation of the city's historic preservation ordinance as part of the effort to save the Vinoy Hotel back in the 1980s," said Manny Leto. "So the fact that we can even have a conversation today about saving St. Pete's historic properties is because of Peter."
Belmont’s longtime friend, Brady Johnson, known as “Mr. I Got ‘Em” of the Saturday Morning Market, spoke to Belmont, “I heard you say that you may not get a chance to see what this key unlocks.” He added, “You have already unlocked so many things. You’ve got a key here, but at the end of the day, you unlocked things a long time ago for a lot of people.”
Today, Preserve the ‘Burg is the City of St. Petersburg’s local authority for historic preservation, where Peter remains on the board of directors. Preserve the 'Burg's programs and advocacy efforts have helped to raise awareness about the value of St. Petersburg's historic resources, and their work has led to the preservation of dozens of local landmarks and neighborhoods.
To learn more about Peter Belmont and his incredible contributions to PTB and our community, check out Peter Belmont: A Steel Thread in the Quilt of St. Pete Preservation.