SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida museum is collecting and cataloging items from the Surfside memorial wall to preserve the touching tribute.

It was a space that provided a way for the grief-stricken community to honor the victims of the June 24 condo collapse.

The collection of the memorabilia started at around 9 a.m., Monday.

Each item on the wall was meticulously removed to protect the legacy of the 98 lives lost.

Leo Soto, like so many, lost a great friend in the tragic collapse.

“Her smile, quite literally, lit up the entire room,” said Soto, “just a beautiful, beautiful person.”

As a way to mourn, Soto started the memorial wall along Harding Avenue.

“When it first happened, I just felt, almost like a zombie walking around, and I felt like the only way I could help the community was to try and give emotional support,” he said.

The wall has attracted people from all walks of life, who paid their respects to the dozens of victims.

Soto’s newly formed foundation, Wall of Hope, and HistoryMiami Museum came together with Miami-Dade and the town of Surfside to preserve the memorial wall.

“Every single section is photographed and then cataloged,” said Michele Reese Granger. “We’ll be removing the items, and then we’ll be taking them to our storage facility.”

The items will be kept in the museum’s secure temperature-controlled storage facility.

“We want to make sure that their legacy is properly cared for,” said Reese Granger.

The items will stay with the museum until the county and city leaders find a permanent spot where the wall will likely be rebuilt.

“We’re going to find somewhere permanent where we don’t have to worry about hurricanes and tropical storms and things of that nature,” said Soto. “The most important thing to me is to preserve this, to preserve this location and preserve the mementos.”

Once all the items are taken down, the City of Surfside will establish an area alongside the tennis courts on 87th and Collins where anyone who wants to add more items to the memorial can bring them.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation to the Wall of Hope Foundation can do so by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox