On September 20, the City of Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum opened a new exhibit on Greek Maritime Traditions at their beautiful facility located on the banks of Springs Bayou, a true Florida gem.
Brendan Burke, Associate Director of Archaeology for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum was asked to provide a keynote presentation on Greek boat building impacts throughout Florida to open the exhibit.
The City of Tarpon Springs and Brendan Burke, guest speaker, were honored with the presence of Mr. Dmitris Sparos, Consul General for the Hellenic Republic of Greece. Mr. Sparos has also served as Consul General for Greece at The Hague, Peru, the Middle East, and as Directorate for Russia and the Balkans. A natural polyglot, he speaks five languages fluently and was kind to help Brendan refine his pronunciation of a few Greek words used in the presentation. Sparos and Burke are joined by Wally Ericson, master boat builder in Tarpon Springs and Tina Bucuvalas, Curator of Arts & Historical Resources for the City of Tarpon Springs. For those of you not having visited Tarpon Springs, you must! It is an amazing community of Greek diasporans who maintain their cultural affiliation as Greek very strongly. Of course, their tradition as a sponging capital couples naturally with St. Augustine’s role as a fishing and boat building port, indeed sometimes linked by blood! It was a wonderful experience, well attended by the community, and we wish the City the best with their new and important exhibit.
Mrs. Ourania Stephanides approached me after the presentation with an amazing tale, she is the 4th great-granddaughter of Hezekiah H. Pittee, Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction during the 1870s. Pittee oversaw construction of the St. Augustine Lighthouse from June of 1872-October, 1874. It was amazing to connect with her, what a marvelous coincidence!
Mrs. Coutroulis, pictured here with Brendan, was a special guest to the opening of the exhibit on Greek fishing heritage in Tarpon Springs. Her family built boats in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, primarily shrimp boats, and she brought pictures from their decades of experience.