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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 5 years ago

Citizens led charge to save the MacDonald House in the 1990s

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The house was previously restored in 1997.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

The controversy over the future of the MacDonald House is a source of déjà vu for Sang Roberson, the nationally known Ormond Beach ceramic artist.

In the 1990s, an effort led by citizens called the Casements Park Steering Committee raised funds for an evaluation of the building and petitioned city government to restore it. The committee was formed by members of the Garden Club of the Halifax Country.

Just like today, the building was in danger of being torn down for modern development.

But thanks to generous donations, the committee was able to hire a company that examined the house and said it was sound enough to be restored. They also traveled to Tallahassee to lobby for a grant toward the renovation, and the city eventually applied for and received a grant of $65,000

The MacDonald House was restored by the city in 1997 for $140,702.

THE ORMOND HOTEL EFFECT

Roberson said the importance of The MacDonald House rose significantly after the Ormond Hotel was demolished in 1992. Local citizens started to look at “what they had left” and decided they better work to keep it.

But some needed convincing. She remembers a city commissioner saying, “I’m old, but I’m not historic.”

“As a community, we’re beginning to cherish our historic structures.”

SANG ROBERSON, ceramic artist

Now the struggle begins anew. One of the reasons, she said, is that while the building has remained in place, there are new people in city government and the business community.

Roberson is glad to see all of the current interest in the house.

“As a community, we’re beginning to cherish our historic structures,” she said.

She is also grateful that the city is paying for the current study by Bender and Associates Architects.

CATCHING UP

Born and raised in Mississippi, Roberson, a 43-year resident of Ormond Beach, is now living in her fourth local historic home, a two-story cabin made of palm logs. All are located in a four-block radius near the Heritage Condominium, the location of the former Ormond Hotel.

Her ceramic art is exhibited in galleries and museums all of the world, but locally, she’s known for the Christmas ornaments made by the WORC, which provides jobs for people with disabilities. She was asked to help with ceramics at WORC in 1991, and Roberson had the idea of designing an ornament that the WORC workers could make and sell. She designed the ornaments throughout the decade, and they were later designed by other artists.

Now, after all these years, the 2017 Christmas ornaments may be a Roberson design. She was asked to take part again by Candene Wharton, of WORC.

She now lives in Ormond Beach half the year and the other half in Taos, New Mexico, but Ormond Beach is becoming more of a permanent home, with her son living nearby.

“My two little granddaughters are a big draw,” she said.

NEVER TOO LATE

Roberson worked as an English and Spanish teacher before quitting to raise her children. It was then, at a self-described “middle age,” her art career started. She took a two-week class in clay and “that was it,” she said.

Today, her ceramics are in galleries and museums all of the United States, including Watson MacRae Gallery in Sanibel and the Blue Spiral in Asheville, North Carolina. Locally, her art can be seen at the Stetson University, Museum of Art and Sciences in Daytona Beach and sometimes at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum.

She said this shows it’s “never too late” to start a new career.

Her art has recurring “box” shapes but there are also open forms. As a child, her family would drive by houses that her father was building. She said she wonders if the box shapes might be reflections of her father’s houses.

 

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