Apprentices restore the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society’s New River Inn

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A unique partnership is affording apprentices to gain valuable experience while also restoring a historical community building. Fort Lauderdale Historical Society (FLHS) has partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale’s (HACFL) StepUP Apprenticeship Program to restore the New River Inn, located at 219 2nd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. This partnership will allow apprentices to enhance their construction skills on historical restoration, as well as expand their professional portfolio.

“Our StepUP apprentices are kids that grew up without skills to get a meaningful job – through StepUP we’ve given them the opportunity to learn skills to become gainfully employed,” said Tam English, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale. “The Historical Society has a lot of wonderful historical buildings that need to be preserved and this is a great opportunity for our apprentices to repair and maintain these structures while showing off the skills they’ve gained in this program.”

Restoration of the New River Inn, which will be used as an educational center, will include new flooring, reinforcement of all floor joists, and new drywall.

StepUp participants performing the restoration will include one supervisor and up to four apprentices.

“Partnering with the StepUP program allows us to provide opportunities to apprentices who are building a new career in construction services. This partnership offers a unique experience that they would not have working on modern buildings,” said Patricia Zeiler, executive director of the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society. “Learning this system will open doors for them to restore other historical buildings, which is the heart of our mission – to cost effectively preserve structures rather than demolish and rebuild new ones.”

The StepUP apprentices will perform additional restoration work, including building windows, painting, basic plumbing, and general building maintenance on six FLHS buildings.

The StepUP Apprenticeship Program is a state certified program created by the HACFL in 1994 to provide apprentices with the opportunity to create a portfolio of education, training, and employment skills to increase their potential for permanent employment and economic selfsufficiency. During the program, apprentices are trained in construction skills with a specialty in housing rehabilitation and building maintenance for occupations in the public and private sectors.

All apprentices are required to obtain their GED while in the program. The program trains low-income public housing residents and at-risk youth, and has succeeded in helping hundreds of Fort Lauderdale neighbors find pathways out of poverty, while improving the public realm in the City.

“This is a unique opportunity for these men and women to hone their skills as they learn about the earlier stages of development and construction in our City. With this work, the StepUP story is now woven into the historic fabric of Old Fort Lauderdale,” expressed Scott Strawbridge, director of Development and Facilities of the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale. “When our apprentices improve properties, they invariably experience a sense of pride and sense of place. We think this work can benefit our cities in the future.”

For more information, contact Scott Strawbridge at 954-525-6444 / [email protected] or visit