Updated: Apr 12, 2022
The Daytona Beach City Island Recreation Center
Photo By: Duane C. Fernandez Sr. / Hardnotts Photography L.L.C.
ANDREAS BUTLER DEEP FOCUS NEWS
The City Island Recreational Hall at 117 East Orange Ave. ,across the street from Jackie Robinson Ballpark, has been closed for over two decades and in decay even longer. The Daytona Beach Historical Preservation Board voted 5-1 at their March 15, 2022 meeting to ask the City not to demolish the building and to make it a historical site. That is where the 1943 Project comes in. The plan is to renovate the building and put a museum there. “We just felt like instead of demolishing the building it would be better to renovate it and share some history; especially some of the history that also occurred right here in our city,” commented Steve Miller. Miller is co-chairing the 1943 Project which is his idea.
The 1943 project will honor the men and women who paved the way toward a fully integrated United States military. These men and women served in World War II and played a vital role in the desegregation of our armed forces based on race and gender. The US military was fully integrated in 1948 by executive order from President Harry S. Truman.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was known to have advocated for these integration opportunities by setting up funding to train Black pilots at the Tuskegee Institute and recruiting for the U.S. Army’s Women Army Corps (WAC). She understood the discrimination inherent in the military and WWII but she knew all races and both genders were needed to win the war.
20,000 women trained for the U.S. Army’s Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp (WAAC or WAC) in Daytona Beach. Records show that they contributed $5 million a month to the local economy, filling the financial gap of no tourism dollars during the war. Meanwhile, hundreds of men trained at the Halifax Naval Air Station at Daytona International Airport. The Recreation Hall was created for the entertainment of these service men and women. The building was built in 1943 next to the casino which was on City Island at that time with funds almost exclusively from the Federal Works Administration. The matter will next go to the Daytona Beach City Commission who will discuss it at their April 6 regular meeting.