Monday, December 28, 2015

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

Members of Bay Oaks Social Seniors went to Sanibel Island on December 10, 2015, to tour the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. The group toured nine buildings which reflect life on Sanibel as it was from the 1880s through the 1940s. Sanibel was settled by farmers and fishermen, and the buildings of the village are either restorations or replicas of the originals. Among the buildings are a pioneer home from the early 1900s, a general store, a schoolhouse, a tearoom, 2 Sears Roebuck catalog kit homes, a post office rebuilt from hurricane debris, and a packing house. The buildings have a feeling of authenticity because they are furnished with items that belong to an earlier period in the history of Sanibel. After the tour, the group had lunch at Skip One Seafood Restaurant on the way home from Sanibel.

Map of the Historical Village 

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village was founded in 1984 with a mission to preserve and share Sanibel history. The historic buildings were moved from their original island sites to the Historical Village. Each building has been restored to its original state. Sanibel residents donated many of the items that are found in the buildings.

Shore Haven

Shore Haven is one of the more recent additions to the village. It is a 1924 Sears Kit home that was a private residence for many years but now serves as the Welcome Center for the Historical Village. It was donated to the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village in 2012.

Pergola over walkway to Shore Haven. 

The theme is “Celebrating Christmas, 1945” for soldiers returning from WWII. Sarah is with BOSS members Carmen, Leslie, Roger, Jean, Sharon, Ralph, April, Virginia and John.

Leslie is in the picture gallery at Shore Haven
 The artwork is by artists who belong to the local art association.

Carmen & Jean in the Welcome Center of Shore Haven

The Rutland House - 1913

The Rutland House is a typical “cracker” style home. It has eleven-foot ceilings, cross ventilation, a hip roof, a wide porch and is on pilings to let air flow underneath--all features to maximize good air circulation. The "dog trot,” an open hallway from the front to the rear of the house, opening at both ends, also provides much-needed ventilation. The style provided shelter from the Florida sun and made the most of breezes. Today the simplistic style is newly appreciated for its energy efficiency and charm.

(FYI: The term “cracker” is derived from the sound Florida cattlemen made when cracking their whips. After the Civil War, raising cattle was, and still is, one of the biggest businesses in the state.) 

Sharon & Ralph entering the Rutland House

Clarence Rutland came to the island with his parents in 1896 at the age of six and was a jack-of-all-trades. In the 1920s he earned seven cents per crate packing tomatoes and peppers for farmers. Rutland bought the house in 1928 for $2,000. He lived there until his death in 1982, when it was moved to the village and became the first building to house the Sanibel Historical Museum.

A Christmas tree and toys in the Rutland House

Settee draped with patriotic bunting in the Rutland House salon

The salon viewed from the dining room

A view from the salon through the dining room and into the kitchen

The dining room table

The Rutland kitchen

Fireless cook stove

If the soapstone radiators of the Toledo Fireless Cookstove were heated for 20 minutes,  the stove conserved heat so well for so long that it could bake bread and cake and roast meat as well as a kitchen range.  

High chair on wheels

Twin Bedroom with mosquito netting

The Calusa Indians room

Dating as far back as 2,500 years, the native Calusa Indians were the first-known residents of the island. The Calusa used the waterways around the island for food and tools. Whelks, conchs, clams, oysters, and other seafood were used for food, and their empty shells were crafted into tools. 

Mock-up of Calusa Mounds

The Calusa were skilled builders and craftsmen, perching their huts high atop shell mounds to provide protection from storm tides. Some of their shell mounds, which were also used for ceremonial, ritual and burial sites, remain intact today.

Victory Garden with Mike, a volunteer gardener.

Our group viewing the Victory Garden 
(Victory Gardens were planted during the war to supplement the food supply.)

Artists from the local art association working “en plein air” (outside/on location)

The Old Sanibel School House for White Children - 1896

The building has its original school bell. In the 1960s, after a new school house was built, the new school became the first integrated school in Lee County. After the school was vacated, the building became a theater. In December of 2004, the building was moved to the Historical Village and restored to its 1920 appearance. 

The School House is  a classic one-room schoolhouse with a wood stove used to warm the room in winter. In 1932, a second room was added, more windows installed, and the schoolhouse was able to house grades one through eight. 

Burnap Cottage - 1898

Hiram Burnap purchased the cottage and used it as a fishing retreat in the winter. In 1998, the building was donated to the village and restored to its original state. Some say a ghost still haunts the building.

Burnap Cottage

Inside the Burnap Cottage, there are artifacts from the Algiers, a ferry turned into a riverboat mansion, which had Italian terrazzo tiles, French marble countertops and sinks inlaid with gold seahorses, and gold-plated dolphin faucets spitting softened water into bathroom sinks. There was an elevator to take people to the top deck and  a restaurant-equipped kitchen boasting a microwave. The Algiers was ill-fated and never used as a “pleasure palace” by its owners. (The farm boy in the foreground was not part of our group.)

Burnap Cottage

The cottage houses a lens from the Sanibel lighthouse, and the captain’s wheel from the Algiers is in the background.

Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room - 1926

Before the 1926 hurricane, this building was once a gas station and a store. When the Baileys’ new store was completed, the building was given to Charlotta Matthews, the present Bailey brothers’ maiden aunt, who turned it into a tea room across from the ferry landing to welcome ferry patrons.

Entering Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room

Inside Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room

Outside the Post Office - 1926

The Sanibel Post Office was established on April 2, 1900. The front porch of Will Reed’s house on San Carlos Bay served as the post office. After the hurricane of 1926 washed away Reed’s house, there was enough debris found to build this small post office.

Packages and the postmaster inside the post office

Will Reed was postmaster until 1940

Bailey’s General Store - 1927

Bailey’s General Store was the center of activity on the island with telephone and telegraph links, while steamer, ferry and mail boats stopped at the docks. Islanders voted here, sent and received mail and caught up on the latest news.

Ralph and Roger examine a gas pump in front of Bailey’s.

Inside Bailey’s General Store

Staples on the shelves of Bailey’s General Store

A replica of the ferry from the steam ship line in the store

Farm tools in the store.

Agriculture was the main commerce for Sanibel settlers from the 1880s to the 1940s. Eventually tidal surges that washed over the island during several hurricanes rendered the soil useless for large-scale farming. 

Caretakers’ Cottage

This cottage was built after 1925 behind Shore Haven. At one time or another, it served as a guest house, bath house, caretakers’ cottage and annex. It was donated and moved to the village with Shore Haven in 2012.

The cottage features an exhibit of Sanibel’s Black History.

Morning Glories Cottage - 1925

This house, a Sears & Roebuck prefabrication, cost $2211 and was delivered to Sanibel in 1925. The building came to the island in 30,000 pieces on a flatbed truck aboard a barge.  A few years ago, Morning Glories was donated to the Village, and a group of volunteers labored for almost a year to restore the building to its present condition. It is quite charming, and restoring it must have been a labor of love because everything about the cottage is so carefully and thoughtfully done. In addition, it seems eminently livable. It is a typical winter home on Sanibel in the 20s and 30s.

A mantel with artwork in the Morning Glories cottage

The dining room in the cottage

The master bedroom in the cottage

The bathroom in the cottage

A child’s room in the cottage

The breakfast nook and kitchen in the Morning Glories cottage
The home had its own generator to provide electricity

The screened-in  back porch of the Morning Glories cottage

BOSS members ready to have lunch at Skip One Seafood Restaurant

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Festival of Trees - A Christmas Celebration

The Festival of Trees is a beautiful showcase of Christmas trees decked out in unique decorations. Each year, the decorators find more unusual ways to adorn their trees. Candy, elves, nutcrackers, tools, flamingos and bees have all adorned pine branches. While you're likely to see almost anything on these beautiful and creative trees, others are decorated traditionally, with ornaments, ribbons, and bows. 

Not only are the trees elaborately decorated, but they also have valuable gifts included with them.  Each tree has its own theme and comes with gifts themed to the tree, including a glass slipper, a corn hole game, luggage, rocking chairs, wooden wagons, giant teddy bears, weekend getaways, beer-making kits, tai chi lessons, power tools, wine, and tickets and gift cards to Fort Myers restaurants and businesses. People who viewed the showcase were able to vote for their favorite tree and buy raffle tickets, starting at $10 per ticket.  Thirteen trees were up for raffle and 9 trees were auctioned off live at the annual Tux and Trees black-tie event on Saturday, December 5th. 

This year, the ninth annual festival began on December 2 and continued through December 6, 2015.  Proceeds from the auction and from admission, which is $2.00 for visitors ages 12 and up, benefit Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida and the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Fa├žade of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First Street, Fort Myers, is located in the heart of downtown Fort Myers in the River District. Art exhibitions and art walks are regular affairs at the art center as are  fund raisers, charity balls, and private events. (FYI: Berne Davis, now over 100 years old, has had a lifelong commitment to philanthropy that has benefited many institutions in the Fort Myers area.) 

The building and its surrounding site has a long history. The site on which the building now stands was a Native American Calusa Indian settlement hundreds of years ago. In the mid-1800s, the site was the location of  the original fort of Fort Myers and site of the officers’ quarters. In 1933, a Post Office opened on the site. It was the era when  leading figures like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had winter homes only a few minutes away. At the time, its unique neoclassical architecture and ornate decorative details, with the open-air loggia and massive columns of Florida Key limestone, was admired far and wide. The building was converted into a federal courthouse in the 1960s. Eventually, it was vacated in 1998 after a new courthouse was built nearby. The vacant building deteriorated badly and fell into disrepair.

Florida Arts, Inc. agreed to restore the building to its original magnificence, while creating a modern arts facility. Work on Phase one, restoring 10,000 square feet of the building, was completed in 2008. Later phases of the restoration have included completion of the second floor to serve as additional gallery and multi-purpose event space, plus two classrooms, kitchen, artist dressing rooms and greenroom, and office space. The last phase will restore the rooftop as a sculpture garden and reception area.

A wreath hanging between the massive pillars of the art center

Karen, Judy & Becky in front of the art center

A view of festive trees on the left-hand side of the exhibit space, which has beautiful granite flooring.

"Bee Grateful" - Sponsored by AHA! A Holistic Approach Center for Health and Harmony
“This tree is a-buzz this holiday season.”  

Tree-topper for "Bee Grateful"

"Christmas in Paradise" -  Sponsored by Two Men and a Truck
Two Men and a Truck also provide tree deliveries for the lucky winners of the raffles and auction.

"Cinderella: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" -  Sponsored by B & I Contractors, Inc.

Cinderella’s dress with tree-topper bodice

Cinderella’s carriage and glass slipper

A lavishly-decorated wreath with its own gingerbread figures and house will be in the Silent Auction at the Tux and Trees Gala.

"Home is Where the Heart Is: An American Folk Art Tree" - Sponsored by Elaine Head
The handcrafted ornaments were created by designer Elaine Head

"Downtown for the Holidays" - Sponsored by Costco
The gifts with this tree include evenings out in downtown Fort Myers at Florida Rep and various restaurants.

"The Grande Dame" - sponsored by Pathways to Opportunity

The clients at Pathways created their "Grande Dame" entry in honor of Pathways volunteer Kelli Dame of Fox 4 News. The tree-topper is a two-foot-tall bodice with a necklace of round, gold ornaments. The pine branches act as its skirt.

Pathways, a program of Southwest Florida Goodwill Industries, serves about 40,000 clients with disabilities and other barriers to employment in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Pathways provides clients, typically in their 20s and 30s, with tools needed to achieve independence, such as handling money and paying bills, job training and placement, affordable housing, transportation assistance, and youth programs

"Mischievous Elves" - Sponsored by Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair Association
Great gifts adorn this elf-inspired tree.

"Surfing Santa" - Sponsored by the Naples Soap Company

The tree and gifts are  a celebration of outdoor Florida attractions.

A fun cutout board with Martha & daughter Pam

The cutout board with Becky & Judy

"Leaping for Legos" - Sponsored by Edgewood Academy

It has building blocks and gift cards  for the Lego lover. 

"Let's do this: Let Home Depot Tools Help" -  Sponsored by Home Depot 

The package includes a large toolbox and tools. It is valued at $1,500 and won the voting for the “Most Traditional” tree. Home Depot also donates the pre-lit trees and wreaths used in the festival, as it has for the last 7 years.

"LCBA Cares" - Sponsored by the Lee County Bar Association

A Candyland board game for the whole family

A view of the venue with the booth in the middle for distributing voting ballots and raffle tickets

"Holiday Spirit" -  Sponsored by the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center 

This tree gained the most attention because it really is unique. It is a custom tree form holding 118 bottles of wine and valued at $5,000. Organizers hope it brings in more at the Gala auction. 

Becky with "Holiday Spirit." The tree won the “Most Creative”  prize.

"The Magic of the Nutcracker" -  Sponsored by Univision SW Florida 

The gifts with this tree include a 49-inch flat screen TV and nutcrackers. The tree, valued at $3,600 won the “Best All-Around” award.

"Forever Wild" - Sponsored by Sun Trust Bank South
This tree suggests a cold, snowy day in the Great Outdoors. 

"Forever Wild" tree-topper 

Who would expect to find an eagle in a nest as a tree-topper? Overall, there were quite a few tree-toppers which were just out-of-this-world creative.

Judy & Becky in front of the "Forever Wild" tree

A view of the right-hand side of the venue

"Living the Beach Life" - Sponsored by Sun Trust Bank North

"Living the Beach Life" tree-topper

Pam, Carmen, Martha & Karen

"Sleighs and Bells" - Sponsored by the Evanchyk Family

This tree brings back childhood memories of Christmas-time

"Sleighs and Bells" tree-topper

"Sleighs and Bells" elves

"Button, Burlap and Brew" - Sponsored by LCEC
(Does this stand for Lee County Electric Cooperative?)

Sure to please those who love brews-- both coffee and beer

"Joy to the World" - Sponsored by CenturyLink 

For the second year in a row, this tree, valued at $2,000, won the “Mayor’s Choice” award.

"Hat's off to you, Mr. Edison" - Sponsored by Norris Home Furnishings 

The tree comes with a custom console recovered from one of Thomas Edison's factories in Wisconsin. 

"Winter Wonderland" - Sponsored by Riverside Realty LLC/Staging Matters

"Cookie Cutter Christmas" - Sponsored by Hotel Indigo

"A Very Beary Christmas" - Sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida  

This tree was decked with all kinds of teddy bears, with tall boxes holding bears surrounding the tree. All of the bears were donated by members of the community. It will be the last tree auctioned. Typically, several groups  bid together on the tree, donating the hundreds of bears to children's groups. The tree sold for as high as $13,000 one year. 

Bear close-up

Becky, Martha, Karen, Judy & Carmen in front of the French Connection restaurant, 
where we went for lunch after the exhibit.