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Florida Historical Commission

The Florida Historical Commission (FHC) was established by the 2001 Florida Legislature (Section 267.0612, Florida Statutes) to enhance public participation and involvement in the preservation and protection of the state's historic and archaeological sites and properties. The Commission advises and assists the Division of Historical Resources in carrying out the programs, duties and responsibilities of the Division. Seven members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Secretary of State, two by the President of the Florida Senate and two by the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

 The members are responsible for reviewing and ranking Special Category Historic Preservation Grant applications; five members of the FHC also meet as Florida's National Register Review Board to review and vote on proposed nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, the Commission exists to advise with regard to policy and preservation needs. Members of the FHC are considered to be experts in their respective fields, with the members representing the following:

  • Of the seven members appointed by the Governor, one member must be a licensed architect who has expertise in historic preservation and architectural history; one member must be a professional historian in the field of American history; one member must be a professional architectural historian; one member must be an archaeologist specializing in the field of prehistory; and one member must be an archaeologist specializing in the historic period.
  • The remaining two members appointed by the Governor and the two members appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, must be representatives of the general public with demonstrated interest in the preservation of Florida's historical and archaeological heritage.

Current members of the FHC include: educators in Florida's university system, authors, the principal of a cultural resource management firm, and citizens who have devoted personal and professional lives to protecting and preserving Florida's historic resources.

Florida Historical Commission 


Mrs. Marion M. Almy, RPA, Chairman

Prehistoric Archaeologist

Sarasota, FL

Term: 04/02/2015 to 12/31/2018

Founding Principal and President of Archaeological Consultants, Inc., Mrs. Almy's 26 years experience in archaeological and architectural/historical investigations extends throughout Florida. A Registered Professional Archaeologist, Director of the American Cultural Resources Association, past President of the Florida Archaeological Council, she formerly chaired both the Florida National Register Review Board and the Florida Historic Preservation Advisory Council. She formerly served as a Board member of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from Florida State University and a Master's degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in cultural resource management from the University of South Florida.

Dr. Judith Bense

Pensacola, FL

Term: 02/05/2018 to 12/31/2019

Dr. Judy Bense, a native of northwest Florida, is an archaeologist and has been at the University of West Florida (UWF) since 1980. She is the founder of the Anthropology program, Archaeology Institute and Florida Public Archaeology Network at UWF. Dr. Bense served as President of UWF from 2008 to 2016, and has now returned to the faculty. She specializes in northwest Florida archaeology and is the author of four research books and two public archaeology books plus scores of articles and book chapters. She is a founding member of the Florida Historical Commission and served as its chair from 2002-2008.

Mr. Steve Birtman

Tallahassee, FL

Term: 01/01/2015 to 12/31/2016

Stephen Birtman is the Governmental Affairs Director at the Florida Nurse Anesthetists Association.  Stephen has served as State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business Florida and Director of Government Relations- South East for Humana Insurance Company. He is President and serves on the Board for the Capitol City Tiger Bay Club and is Commissioner Emeritus of Baseball at Winthrop Park. Steve has a passion for history and architecture and has explored the Mayan Temples at Tikal and the Fortress Europe Fortifications of Normandy. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida History Museum at the R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee, Florida. Stephen is a graduate of Florida State University. He is married and is a father. He is a lifelong Chicago Cubs Fan.

Mr. John Browning, Jr.

East Palatka

Term: 1/4/2019 to 12/31/2022

John Browning is the Senior Vice President of Political Affairs for the Goodman Company headquartered in West Palm Beach. The company is a real estate and investment firm specializing in retail commercial development. He also owns businesses, including his family ranch and Angel’s Dining Car – Florida’s oldest diner. Mr. Browning is an avid enthusiast of early Florida and Spanish history. He has had a long career in public service including being appointed by President George H. Bush to the National Council on Surface Transportation Research, The White House advance team, Former Chairman of Florida Transportation Commission, Vice Chairman of the High Speed Rail Commission, as well as the Florida Rail Commission. Mr. Browning currently serves on many professional boards including Associated Industries of Florida, National Federation of Independent Business, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, and Sunrise Rotary Club. He currently lives in Palatka, where he also enjoyed restoring a historic turpentine settlement. He is a multi-generation Floridian maintaining his old Victorian home located on the St. Johns River. Mr. Browning graduated from St. Johns River Community College with an AA in Business Administration and from Florida State University with a BS in Business Management.

Mr. Rick Gonzalez, AIA, Vice Chair

Preservation Architect

West Palm Beach, FL

Term: 9/25/2008 to 12/31/2011

Rick Gonzalez, AIA, founded REG Architects, Inc., with his father Ricardo in 1988. Rick holds two architectural degrees from the Catholic University of America and has studied design in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Italy. He was Chairman of the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design, serves as the Immediate Past President of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, and is actively involved with community organizations such as the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. His association with high-profile projects like Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, the 1916 Palm Beach County Historic Courthouse, and "The Harriet" at City Place, has led the firm to numerous awards for historic preservation and downtown redevelopment.

Mr. Matt Hudson


Term: 08/17/2020 to 12/31/2021

Matt Hudson, is a healthcare professional having spent 30 years in health care policy and business operations. He is also a former member of the Florida House of Representatives having served as Speaker Pro Tempore and Chair of the Health Care Appropriations Committee. Matt is currently the Vice President of Special projects and strategy at Hope Health Care which provides Hospice, palliative and specialized care to seniors in the five counties of Southwest Florida. He is also the Executive Director of Florida PACE providers association, the trade association for the state’s PACE programs, allowing seniors to stay at home while engaging in community activities and receiving patient-centered health care services. Florida history is one of Matt's passions. Matt lives in Tallahassee with his wife, their two dogs and cat. He has two adult children and four grandchildren.


Mr. John B. Phelps

Tallahassee, FL

Term: 9/17/2013 to 12/31/2015

John Phelps has worked for the Florida Legislature for 39 years.

His first appointment was in the House of Representatives where he held positions in various committees and the Speaker's Office. He was elected Clerk of the House in 1986 and served for twenty years before leaving in 2006 to accept an appointment as Curator of the Historic Capitol and pursue a longstanding interest in Florida history. In 2010, the Senate President recruited him for the position of Staff Director of the Rules Committee. John has held numerous offices with national legislative organizations, including Staff Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures, President of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries and Chair of the Commission that revises Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. Outside the legislature, John has been a procedural consultant to legislatures in Central America, Africa and the Middle East, most recently Iraq, Afghanistan and Morocco. He is a trustee of Eckerd College and Honorary Consul in Florida for Great Britain.

Dr. Clifford E. Smith, Jr., RPA 

Historical Archaeologist

Venice, FL

Term: 7/11/2014 to 12/31/2016

Dr. Clifford E. Smith was hired by the City of Sarasota on December 26, 2006, to develop a historic preservation program, to promote historic preservation within the city, and to be a resource to the public interested in historic preservation. He currently serves as a member of the Historic Preservation Board for Sarasota County, a member of the Coalition for Historic Preservation, and Chairman of the Board for the Sarasota Municipal Employees Credit Union. In his previous position, Dr. Smith was Deputy Director of the Bermuda Maritime Museum - Chief of Operations and charged with the restoration of the 19th century museum buildings, the fort's six and a half acres grounds, and its battlements. As the Museum's Director of Archaeology and Conservation, he was responsible for a number of projects both on land and underwater completing Phase I surveys through Phase III excavations on sites dating from the 17th to the 19th century. These projects were used as training opportunities for the hundreds of students, interns, and volunteers that went through the various programs offered. In addition to historic restoration and archaeological projects; Dr. Smith often acted as a consultant to the British Government, Bermuda Government, and the West End Development Corporation to address their Historic, Archaeological, and Conservation issues. 



Meetings & Materials

Approved Minutes