South Side Cultural Arts Center

Client City of Fort Lauderdale
  • Architectural Design
  • Construction Documents
  • Permitting
  • Contract Administration
Status Completed in 2017
Success A long-neglected national historic structure near ruin is rescued, renovated, and repurposed for community activities.

South Side Cultural Arts Center

Fort Lauderdale, FL

South Side, Fort Lauderdale’s first elementary school, is one of the city’s earliest surviving structures. An historic treasure, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Designed by architect John Peterson, South Side opened in 1922 in the midst of the 1920s Florida real estate boom. The 11,000 SF, two-story building features a stucco exterior, awning style windows, a flat roof with a parapet, and a rectangular T-shaped footprint. In 1969, after 45 years, the school closed. The building was repurposed for other children’s services. That facility closed in the early 1990s, and the building fell into disuse, and suffered damage from vandalism and neglect.

In 2004 the City of Fort Lauderdale acquired the site, and a multi-phase rehabilitation program began. The exterior historical improvements were completed in 2012. In 2015, SRS was awarded the responsibility for completing the interior and site improvements.

Major improvements include enclosure of an existing breezeway and stair tower, adding an ADA compliant ramp, lighting, landscaping, irrigation, utilities work, sidewalks and walkways. Interior spaces on the first floor allow for a reception area; fitness, multipurpose, and arts and crafts rooms; and a warming kitchen. The second floor offers administrative offices for Parks and Recreation staff. Thirty-seven parking spaces will be added to the site, adjacent to Hardy Park, which features tennis courts, shuffleboard courts, lawn bowling club, and clubhouse.