The announcement represented just one incremental advancement on a path with no shortage of steps.

The announcement represented just one incremental advancement on a path with no shortage of steps.

Nonetheless, the recent rankings of state historical buildings and sites for state preservation grants appeared to be very good news for the Centennial Building and Port Theatre in Port St. Joe.

Both were among the top 11 projects, well up from last year’s rankings, and placed, optimistically for local supporters, within funding parameters established in recent years by the Florida Legislature.

And, of course, it will be state lawmakers who will make the final determination on funding during the legislative session that begins in January.

Last year, state lawmakers funded the first 15 projects on a list over 40 projects long.

To fund through No. 11, lawmakers would have to set aside roughly $3.5 million for historic preservation grants.

“I don’t want to get too excited right now, but last year we were much farther down the list,” said City Clerk Charlotte Pierce, who wrote the grant application seeking Centennial Building funding.

Last year, the Centennial Building project ranked in the 40s; this year it was 11th.

The building, constructed in the late 1930s, has long been a priority for Commissioner Rex Buzzett, who attended the recent presentations to the board recommending historical preservation grant funding.

Improvements to the roof, restoring flooring, windows and ceiling as well as a new air conditioning/heating unit are among the priority items as the city seeks $286,000 to go with $31,000 the city will put as a local match.

The Port Theatre Arts and Cultural Center, a non-profit working to restore the Port Theatre to its former glory as a beacon for the arts, came in at No. 9 on the state rankings.

Last year, the theater ranked 32nd.

The PTACC seeks $500,000 to continue the renovation of the building that began in the past year.

Two community cleanups were followed by additional work and performances, including Thursdays at the Theatre, a monthly performance series which will pick up again in January.

The non-profit received a state grant two years ago to facilitate purchase of the theater, listed on the Florida and National List of Historic Places, with a mission of transforming into a performance arts center.

The theater was identified several years ago by state officials as a potential key to unlocking the full economic development potential of downtown.

The non-profit aims to undertake a community fundraising campaign.

“This is wonderful news,” said Natalie Shoaf, a PTACC board member. “We are keeping our fingers crossed.

“We have several other grants and if we are awarded these also we are on our way. This community support in our first year with Thursday at the Theatre events was overwhelming and so supportive.”

The PTACC has a new website, www.historicporttheatre.com. Visit it to see upcoming events and purchase tickets.