6.06.2010

the entrepreneur (vi)


Walt Disney World opened the gates to The Magic Kingdom in 1971. Sea World Orlando opened in 1973. Dan could feel the migration of families of four or five in air-conditioned cars, moving smooth along the Interstate 95. If they stopped in St. Augustine, they stopped for half a day, still able to get to Orlando by dark. They stopped to see the fort and to walk around a little. But museums seemed to be a commitment of a little cash and a little time and these families were in a hurry to spend money on something a bit more sophisticated. It was time to get out and avoid being the last kooky attraction left standing. On the first day of May, 1974, The Old City Hall Museum closed without fanfare never to reopen.

Dan sold property to a company from Miami with Japanese backing and plans to gut the building and divide up the space for upscale shops. No more museum, no more attraction; just The Old City Hall Arcade Mall.

The Old City Hall Museum had become a landmark in the community, and people were surprised that it was closing, but not surprised that Dan left without a word, without an interview for the paper, no goodbyes or even parting shots. He just paid his bills, took his money, and left, some say to live in the islands.

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