A Time to Remember: The Building of a Museum
A Journal Written by Julie Obenreder
It is so easy to forget all the things that go into the building of a museum, the hours of planning, working, fund raising, the many people who helped along the way, and oh! yes!, even the frustrations trying to get fees waived, permits, materials and volunteers, plus a hundred other items.
I tried to keep a record by writing at the end of each day some of the things that had happened. I will try to put some of it in order for a historical journal of this venture.
As I researched the history of various clubs when writing West Pasco’s Heritage I discovered that most of the histories, minutes and records of their clubs were non-existent. This should never happen. How will future generations know what we did if we fail to keep records?
I especially want to express my personal gratitude to John Gallagher, New Port Richey city manager, to the New Port Richey City Council, and to all the various staff members for their assistance which made the transformation of an old building into a beautiful museum much easier than it would have been without their help.
There were five men who were the prime movers behind the remodeling and must be given special credit. First, my husband Roy who acted as contractor in charge of the building and worked very hard for several months. Without his work and use of all his equipment the first stages of the museum would have been almost impossible. The other four men who so ably assisted whenever called upon were Andrew Gregos, Howard Chenoweth, William Dunlap and Arthur Reveillac. These were the ones who worked the hardest and longest to accomplish our goal and of course, all the work was volunteer. There were many others who helped and all deserve a word of thanks. Many are mentioned in this writing. Anyone who is not mentioned by name also deserves our heartfelt thanks.
Julie J. Obenreder
A group of persons interested in learning to improve their writing skills met at the New Port Richey library in 1973 and 1974 to participate in a creative writing class. Some of the material focused on area history leading to a belief there was a need for these facts to be put in book form.
Dr. Elroy Avery had written The Genesis of New Port Richey and Dr. Ralph Bellwood had published a brief history titled Tales of West Pasco. Otherwise there were no history books available of West Pasco.
The West Pasco Historical Society was born from the need to write such a book. The group organized in early 1973 with the first regular meeting: being held at the home of Julie Obenreder. There were ten ladies present, They elected Obenreder president, Delia Shaver, vice-president, Emma Quinn, Secretary, and Ida Brunner, treasurer. It was decided we should incorporate and get a State charter. Our treasury balance was zero but Janet Lewis, the New Port Richey librarian, donated thirty five dollars which was the amount needed to pay Attorney Richard Williams for doing the legal work. The charter was received in May, 1973 and the group officially became The West Pasco Historical Society. The charter was placed in a safe deposit bank immediately.
The first order of business was for the various members to begin research for our book. Many other events also took place which deserve mentioning.
In October, 1974, the city of New Port Richey celebrated the fiftieth anniversary. Our Society and the New Port Richey Jaycees volunteered to organize the celebration. It was a four day event beginning with a banquet at the Hacienda Hotel and ending with the cutting of a huge birthday cake in Sims Park by Mayor E. Miller Smith. A complete account of the celebration is on file in the museum library.
In 1975 the members entered a float in the Chasco Fiesta parade. Norma Nelson painted a replica of the cover of our soon to be published book. It was on a four by eight piece of plywood which Roy Obenreder mounted on the back of his truck and following the truck were several small covered wagons with children dressed as pioneers walking along the route. Their mothers had done magnificent jobs of making the red wagons authentic. We were very proud to receive the trophy for “Best Non-Commercial Entry.”
Another fund raising effort in 1975 was the publishing of an historical cookbook. Recipes were gathered from long time residents of the area as well as favorites of our members. Cost of the book w as paid by advertisements of local merchants. The first printing was sold out before it came from the press. A second printing was sold almost immediately and no more were printed as we became so involved in other activities. Ida Brunner did much of the work on the historical cook book and did all the typing.
We participated in the United States Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 by presenting a stage musical in the Gulf High School auditorium. A group of singers and dancers from Spring Hill lent their talents to this event. We also sponsored a historical essay contest for fourth, fifth and sixth grade students. We gave prizes to the top three winners. First place winner was Scott Black of Dade City and as I write this I can say he went on to become a Dade City Councilman at a very young age.
We had many fund raisers and always a lot of fun at the same time. There was a wonderful dinner and auction at the Moon Lake Dude Ranch, candy sales at the holiday season, rummage sales, fashion shows, Christmas parties and more.
The history book West Pasco’s Heritage became a reality when it was published in 1975. It was the culmination of innumerable hours of research, interviews with long time residents, writing, editing, re-writing and the ever necessary fund raising. Finally, the typing into manuscript form which I undertook to do. In trying to meet a publisher’s deadline I can truly say I burned a lot of “midnite oil.”
On completion of the book the dream of most members was to have a building of their own as historical objects and important documents began to accumulate. Valuable data, scrapbooks and historical memorabilia donated to the Society were stored in Ida Brunner’s garage, Norma Nelson’s attic and J. Obenreder’s residence.
As the membership increased the need for a “home” became more evident. Obenreder vowed she would accomplish the task of finding such a place before she left office.
The first house offered was owned by Robert and Florence Koning located on West Gulf Drive but it had to be moved from the property which had been sold for a “Steak and Shake” restaurant. The lowest bid received for moving this large house was in excess of fourteen thousand dollars. The Society did not own any land on which to place a building either so the Konings moved it to another location.
The next building we tried to obtain was the Elfers School which had been scheduled to be demolished. Obenreder went to the Pasco County School Board requesting time to try and find a way to save the building and restore it. Contacts were made to the Florida Historical Society concerning a grant but none were available for historical society renovations. The Council on Aging would be able to get a grant, however for a Senior Center. This was done after months of negotiating and the Elfers School was preserved as the Senior Center became a reality. It has served a great need for the area’s older citizens.
The Elkhorn Grove property, known as the Anderson-Baker property on Moog Road, was brought to my attention by Mary Vinson, a granddaughter of the Andersons. It was for sale as part of an estate. It bordered a county-owned two acre park. Through Mary we arranged an open house, invited the county personnel to inspect the property. Commissioners James Hollingsworth and Sylvia Young attended. Refreshments were served as several members joined the commissioners on a tour of the building. The main house was a large two story, four bedroom house with an extra large easement under the entire house. It also featured a huge living room with an open staircase and a Florida room with a scenic view. The other building on the property was presumed to be one of the oldest standing structures on the west side of the county, known as the Baker house. The grounds were a sanctuary for many birds nesting in the huge oak trees.
Obenreder requested a place on the agenda of the next meeting of the County Commissioners at which time she asked the commissioners to consider purchase of the property as an addition to the county park system. One commissioner suggested it could possibly be leased to the historical society for their use. A committee was appointed to compile all the facts. Chairman Barry Doyle appointed Obenreder chairman of the committee. Eventually, after several months’ work, the county bought the property for one hundred twelve thousand dollars. But by that time the County Administrator Scott Barnes had resigned, Commissioner Barry Doyle left the commission, the county attorney who had assisted throughout the proceedings also resigned. The property was left in limbo and the whole project put on hold. All attempts by Obenreder to renew negotiations were futile with letters unanswered, phone calls not returned, and the entire situation ignored by the commissioners. (As of 1986 the property was turned over to the Pasco Fine Arts Council for their headquarters so all the efforts made were not wasted after all.).
In February, 1981, Obenreder received word through a friend that the old Seven Springs School property, known as the Frierson Place on State Road 54 near the Seven Springs Golf course had been sold. She made several phone calls to try and find out who had purchased it with the idea in mind that the old building might be salvaged. It had been built in 1913, used as a school for a very short time. [It was built in late 1914 or early 1915 and was used as a school until 1925 -jm.] In 1925 the Frierson family moved into it, where they lived until it was sold in 1981.
Here I will begin to narrate in the first person as it makes this journal much easier to write since my husband and I were extensively involved in renovating the old building.
Acey said he would decide later what his plans would be and inform me. A few days later he phoned to say he and his wife Dorothy had decided to let the society have the building to move off the property.
At the next regular meeting of the society the acquisition and moving of the building was discussed. Some members were dubious about it as we were so short of funds and still owned no property. The majority voted in favor of it and I was given permission to use my own discretion in taking any necessary steps.
My first idea was that it might be possible to place it on county school property. The Adult Education Building on the Boulevard South (originally Gulf High School) had a concrete tennis court on the north end beside the river, a court no longer in use, which seemed a good spot for the building. I discussed this with Thomas Weightman, Superintendent of Schools, who seemed favorable to the idea but suggested the lot next door to the Elfers Senior Center would perhaps be a better choice.
After giving it much thought I wrote Weightman a letter objecting to the Elfers site because of lack of space, no parking area and no security.
On March 24, 1981, I received a copy of a letter written by Linda Elkin, teacher at the Adult Education Department, to Superintendent Weightman expressing a desire of the art students of the Adult Education West to be permitted to participate in the historical society project. She noted the students needed a place to display their art to the public and had formed a society known as the A. C. E. (Adult Community Education) Artists. They had raised approximately seven thousand dollars through various functions.
On April 6th, I was scheduled to speak on the Pasco County School Board agenda to present the historical society request for a location for the building. The Board unanimously approved the location at the building on the Boulevard South with permission to use the old tennis court as a foundation.
On April 12th a committee was formed to make plans for the project. From the Historical Society: Kenneth Carter, Andrew Gregos, Arthur Reveillac and myself. From the A. C. E. Artists, Linda Elkin, Judy Villmure, and Carole Pearson. Ernie Smith and Alex Acey were appointed alternates.
The first committee meeting was held at the home of Linda Elkin in Port Richey. The discussions included fund raising, obtaining of bids, lease arrangements between the two parties and the School Board. No concrete decisions were made. It was concluded that the building project would be a joint effort of the society and the artists.
In mid-April Roy Obenreder took his truck and tools and went to Seven Springs with Arthur Reveillac and Robert Rose. They worked a full day removing aluminum roofing from the rear porch of the old house.
A bid was received from Bill’s House Movers of Hudson for $8100.00 to move the building from Seven Springs to New Port Richey.
It was difficult to get a large group together to do physical labor but managed to get about twenty to go out and spend a few hours to tear down the remainder of the rear porch. This part of the building had been added by the Friersons and was used as a kitchen and porch. The house had been heated by a large brick fireplace which was impossible to break apart. Roy finally pulled it over with the truck and a heavy tow chain. A few of the bricks fell loose and were salvageable.
On May 19th the society received a letter from Allen Isaac, Director of Pasco County School facilities. He estimated the cost of renovation of the building to meet school board requirements to be $63,947.00. These amounts were much higher than anticipated so at the next regular meeting of the society a vote was taken and the whole thing was tabled due to the exorbitant costs to meet school board specifications.
In the meantime a realtor made an appraisal of the old school in order to give Mr. Acey a receipt for tax purposes. It was decided $5000.00 would be a fair market value and a receipt for that amount was forwarded by our treasurer, Ida Brunner.
In 1981 I was re-elected to the presidency and as usual the board voted to be closed for the summer months. Meetings were held September through May with the last meeting being the installation of officers at a banquet.
The renovation of the old building seemed to be a dead issue so Roy and I went on vacation in Pennsylvania.
Linda Elkin and Ernie Smith of the Pasco School system contacted Kenneth Carter in August to re-initiate the proposal. Kenneth was the Historical Society Vice-president. Carter called a special meeting of the society members at the Gulf High School. Smith announced the school officials were withdrawing from the project. Carter suggested he would contact the city manager John Gallagher to see if any city property might be available to move the building into the city. Once again the members present voted to table the matter until the president returned and the society resumed regular meetings.
On September 9th the society board met at Carter’s office on Bank Street with nine members present. The possibility of moving the building into Sims Park was discussed. Obenreder agreed to meet with Gallagher to request such a move. Meantime, the A. C. E. artists notified the society they would like to share the building on a fifty-fifty basis, also paying half of the renovation costs. This was tabled for review.
I met with Gallagher the next day at city hall. As we looked at a large map on his office wall, the triangle area in Sims Park seemed to be the ideal spot. It was a large area which was basically nothing more than a weed patch and not used for any purpose except occasionally during fiesta. After contacting members of the city council and our own board members it was decided the triangle was a perfect site. Gallagher suggested the matter be placed on the next city council agenda for council action.
I spent the next couple days contacting each council member to explain exactly what the society wished to do. Call it lobbying – if you will -, it always seemed to help when you clarify your position.
A special general meeting was held September 15th at the Gulf High media center. Members were updated on all happenings and a building committee was appointed with the authority to purchase materials as needed and for the moving costs to be paid. Everyone then adjourned to city hall to support my request to the city council for use of a Sims Park site. Permission was granted by unanimous vote of the council. A letter of verification was received September 22nd.
On the 24th members of the building committee met at city hall with Manager Gallagher and city attorney John Renke to formulate details of a lease agreement; under advisement were such things as insurance coverage as required by the city, permits needed, a survey of the leased land and other requirements. Committee members from historical society present were Kenneth Carter, Andrew Gregos, Arthur Reveillac and myself. Copies of lease were to be forwarded as soon as completed by the city attorney.
The next day the same committee met in Sims Park with City Manager Gallagher, Mayor George Henry and officials from the Parks and Recreation Department to stake out the proposed area. Parking facilities were discussed, the need to cut off the underground sprinklers, and a spot was chosen where no trees needed to be cut. It was decided the building would face Orange Lake – a most beautiful spot.
On September 26th Roy Obenreder volunteered to assist with the renovation. The committee appointed him as contractor in charge as he had been a licensed contractor before his retirement. A group of society members and artists gathered at Seven Springs to work most of the day removing debris when the rest of the back porch was demolished. Everything that could not be salvaged was carried to the rear of the property to be hauled away. Material that was determined to be salvageable consisted of some flooring, and the two large pillars which were taken from the front porch and stacked in a room for moving.
I had a call from Frank Janczlik, a city contractor, who said he would have a survey made for us and agreed to pour the concrete footers for the foundation. In the conversation he gave the impression the work would be gratis but to our dismay we found out later he would bill us in the amount of $275.00 for his work. I talked with Bill Griffith of Bill’s House Movers, Hudson, on September 29th, requesting a written contract for the moving and also asked him to consider a reduction in price. He said he would come down $600.00 and would forward a contract in the amount of $7500.00. This was good news!
At the next regular meeting of the society the Acey’s presented a deed to the old building to the society. In return they were given a framed certificate of appreciation and life memberships for each of them.
On September 30th I had the privilege of speaking to the New Port Richey Shuffleboard Club at their meeting in the Holiday Inn. Introduced by Mayor George Henry I spoke about West Pasco’s Heritage plus promoting our building proposals. They offered to send a donation. From then on fund raising speeches became quite routine and very necessary fund raisers. In the next few months I spoke to over two hundred civic and church groups in Holiday, New Port Richey, Port Richey, Beacon Woods and was able to raise quite a bit of enthusiasm and support for our endeavors.
October 1st – Roy and I spent the day gathering rummage for our next sale. A lady in Jasmine Heights had donated a truckload of household goods after we promised to clean the apartment for her which had been vacated. This was quite a job and took all day but we had received some very good merchandise.
Rick Leanillo, teacher at the Adult Education Center, volunteered to do a sketch of the old school for use on printed stationary we could sell. We ordered one thousand sheets from the printer at a price of fifty dollars per thousand. This included the envelopes. Kay Wilkis and I went to Ida Brunner’s home where the three of us packaged the stationery: ten sheets and ten envelopes to a pack ready for sale. These sold very well at $1.95 per pack and we soon re-ordered.
October 2nd – Andrew Gregos, treasurer, asked me to meet him at the Barnett Bank to place some papers in the safe deposit box. While there we made an inventory list of the box contents to add a copy to the Society minutes for quick reference if needed.
Roy cut some pointed stakes, went to the park to set them in the places designated for our location so the surveyors would know the area to be surveyed. Janczlik had contacted the Gem Surveying Company.
The city required $300,000.00 liability insurance. Manager Gallagher recommended Rogers and Cummings Insurance, as they were the city carriers at that time. We requested bids from them as well as from two other companies.
A permit to move the building into the city was issued by the building inspector after he received the survey papers. City Council waived the permit fee. A survey copy was mailed to the city manager and one was placed in our bank safe deposit box. The survey shows a sixty (60) X sixty (60) foot plot for the building plus a right of way on the east side of the building as wide as the building and to the road known as Circle Boulevard, supposedly to be used for parking.
A special board meeting was called October 7th to get approval for mailing a fund request letter plus other building requirements.
On October 8th Bill Griffith came to my home with the contract for moving the building. He had reduced the price as promised from $8100.00 to $7500.00 and included the stipulation he would remove and then replace all the roof rafters for moving, supply all necessary insurance to cover the move, arrange for all permits and traffic control as needed, as well as contacting Florida Power Co., the telephone company and the city regarding any wires or other obstructions along the route. He asked Roy to go to Seven Springs with him to assist him in removing the roof rafters. Roy did this and they decided to cut four feet down on each rafter and dropping them down inside the house for moving. They could easily be spliced together then and put in place after they reached the park. Terms of contract called for one half the face amount payable before moving, the balance due after building was completed as per contract and in place in Sims Park. He also agreed to leave house standing on the steel beams in the park for fifteen days after moving, allowing Roy time to rebuild the brick pillars under the building which would be the foundation as it had been.
On October 9th Oswald Howland, a society member and attorney, met with Linda Elkin and myself to discuss terms of agreement to be made between the historical society and the Ace artists. He advised the best way would be to set up a joint bank account in a building fund. Two signatures should be required on a check. Three persons were appointed so there could always be two available. Appointees were Linda Elkin, Andrew Gregos and J. Obenreder. It was agreed that all fund raising monies would be deposited in this joint account but with each group continuing to have their own separate accounts as in their current bookkeeping systems by their elected treasurers. An audit would be made each year in May by an appointee from each group. It was also decided the first joint fund raiser would be a rummage sale in Sims Park at the club house on October 10th.
Members began gathering at 8:30 a.m., October 10th, to get set up for the sale. The artists had many craft items, dolls, pottery etc., mostly new items and they wanted to sell them outdoors separate from the rummage sale inside the clubhouse. They also decided all the sale funds derived from their portion of the sale would go in their own treasury. The bulk of the items sold inside were contributions of society members. Total from sales came to $322.48 which was deposited in the joint building fund account. Kathleen Strode had spent the day donating her talents to portrait sketches netting $33.00 which she added to the building fund account.
The building fund account was opened October 10th at Barnett Bank. Each group initially deposited $4000.00 plus the $355.48 derived from the park rummage sale.
Bill Griffith, the house mover, was paid the initial amount of $3,750.00, one half the contract amount, on October 14th, 1981.
On October 15th I kept an appointment with City Manager Gallagher for further discussion of park area plans. The city currently had $2500.00 budgeted for park improvement. Landscaping by the Gulf High School Agriculture class was discussed and I was placed on the council agenda to present plans and update the council on our project.
Norma Nelson completed the printing of 500 copies of a fund appeal to be mailed to various businesses and others. Mary Leitch, Betty Sabo, Pauline Matthews, Loretta Butler, met at my home to address envelopes preparatory to mailing. We were able to address and stuff only 300 in one evening.
City Manager Gallagher phoned requesting a delay in moving the building for several days due to a scheduled antique car show in the park. I immediately called the house mover arranging for a later date. He said it would not inconvenience him as he had a job to do in Brooksville.
Several members had gathered at the Hacienda Hotel to celebrate the occasion. Mike Battista, the hotel owner, made a platter of snacks; weenies wrapped in dough and baked, bowls of pretzels and of course someone purchased a couple bottles of champagne to toast the beginning of a new venture – now on the road – so to speak. Spirits were only slightly dampened by the rain.
But as it turned out the delay was longer than expected as the mover had difficulty getting the necessary county personnel to take down two overhead street lights – the traffic light at Bank Street and the one at the Highway 19 intersection – were too low for the building :to pass under.
Consequently it was October 28th before the move was to be completed. As I watched the house being moved up Bank Street I overheard a gentlemen comment, “Whoever had the gall to bring such a disreputable shack into the park.” Another said, “Boy – somebody should touch a match to that pile of rubbish.” I must admit it certainly did look worthless and impossible. As they reached the park one chinaberry tree had to be cut down – we promised to replace it, which we did soon after. By 11:30 that night the old building was in place. I certainly sighed in relief but this was only the first step in a long project.
October 29th and 30th – the movers replaced the roof rafters and stripping. As we walked through the building to look it over the task of making something presentable of it seemed almost impossible. The roof was off, windows were all smashed with the frames broken and screens removed, the walls were covered with a thick heavy plaster which would have to be removed, the doors were all broken or completely gone, frazzled pieces of wiring hung from the remaining boards, and where there were signs of having had a bathroom in the house there were no usable pipes anywhere. Faint hearts would never have undertaken the job of restoring the old house into a purposeful building.
But the next day Roy worked a few hours with the help of Marcia Stickel, Linda Elkin and her son David hammering plaster from the walls. It was as hard as rock and had to be pounded off with the help of a sledge hammer. It was a dirty, hard job and everyone who helped with it in the coming days certainly deserve a lot of credit.
Roy had already volunteered to do the work of supervisor of construction so at the next meeting of the society board he was officially appointed.
On November 2nd our treasurer made out a check for the final payment to Bill’s House Movers. Mr. Griffith came to my home to pick it up.
Society members agreed to help paint the bleachers in the park. The New Port Richey Recreation Department would furnish the paint. They were covered with mildew though which had to be removed first. Arthur Reveillac rented a hand spray to put the chlorine on the grandstand preparing it for painting, his was quite a job and took several hours.
November the 3rd we had a committee meeting to plan a December 6th fund raiser. Janet Lewis, Pauline Matthews and Jean Rose met with me to organize the event.
Janczlik phoned to say he was ready to pour the concrete footers. Norma Nelson met with me to plan publicity for all our upcoming events. Alex Acey offered to contact merchants for prizes for a combolina drawing. Norma would print the tickets. There would be ten prizes with each one dollar ticket being eligible for one at the drawing.
November 4th I had lunch at the Paw Paw Tree with Linda Elkin to discuss plans for a fashion show. After lunch we made inquiries at Beall’s Department Store and at Byron’s in Southgate. Both parties were to contact us later. Meantime – Marcia Stickel and Bob Moreck of the A. C. E. Artists worked with Roy removing plaster from the walls.
The New Port Richey Public Works department agreed to furnish a dump truck to haul away the debris permitting Roy to drive it to the city dump as he would do it at no fee to him and he had a a valid chauffeur’s license for truck driving. He shoveled several loads of old splintered boards and heavy chunks of plaster onto the truck and took it to the city dump.
We completed our fund raising letter sending out eight hundred copies to business and professional people. Our treasurer, Andrew Gregos, and I agreed to each keep a record of monies received from contributors. All those donating one hundred dollars or more would have their name on a plaque to be displayed permanently in the museum. We certainly didn’t want to miss anyone. In-kind donations for material or services were also given credit.
We needed water at the building site. I phoned Manager Gallagher requesting a spigot be put somewhere nearby. He called Andy Hatcher at public works who came over and the very next morning a spigot was installed on the east side of the building, near the rear entrance.
November 6th – Janet Lewis worked to catalogue books for the library with the help of Estelle Garner. Several new volumes had been recently donated. I went to the recreation department to arrange the scheduling of a Gong Show in the center for January 9th. There were several papers to sign and permission was granted by council to waive the usual fee. Also made several calls to Florida Power Corp. to have the electric put into the meter at the park. There was a pole in front of the building with a meter but the Power Co. kept insisting it was a private meter and could not be turned on. I phoned Manager Gallagher with the problem which he promptly solved with one phone call, the electric was turned on within an hour with an eight dollar service charge and no deposit.
November 7th – another busy day. Acey stopped by my house to leave a lamp donated by Kane’s Furniture, valued at $75.00, and a table lamp donated by The Lite House, value $100.00. Norma Nelson took some articles up to the Knights of Columbus Hall on Quist Drive to sell. We had rented a table for $5.00. For sale we had books, jewelry, new purses, stationery and miscellaneous donated articles.
Some of the ladies from Beacon Woods where I had given a speech called in an order for twelve purses. We sold them for seven dollars each with a profit of three dollars. We sold several dozen.
Roy spent all day Sunday, November 11th, pulling nails from old lumber trying to salvage as much as possible, especially flooring.
On November 11th Roy, Ted and Betty Sabo, Howard Chenoweth and Kenneth Carter began painting the city grandstand. The recreation department had purchased several gallons of beige colored paint. Meanwhile the artists painted some lovely murals on the rear wall of the bleachers. And sad to say – but a few months later the city demolished the bleachers and the tennis court which was in front of it, destroying another piece of our history. The grandstand had been built in 1954 by one of our pioneers, Henry Falany. It had cost the city $54,000.00 at that time and could not be duplicated today for many times that amount.
The planning committee for the December 6th chili cook-off and sale met at my house to discuss the event and prepare lists of things to do. Committee members were Jean Rose, Janet Lewis and Pauline Matthews. The Society would sell the chili, the artists would have a sale of crafts. But as it turned out it was the coldest day of the year. The wind whipped up across the park and nobody could sit outside and eat chili. Roy brought our travel trailer to the park so we could use it to heat coffee and keep the chili hot on our propane stove. We used one entire tank of gas although we had the chili in electric roasters outside. The annual Santy Claus parade was held ending in the park but the crowd was sparse due to the weather. We went home very disappointed. I took several gallons of chili home, packed in freezer bags and stored in my deep freeze, hopefully to use later and recoup our expenses.
November 13th no one was available to help Roy so he took the truck and went to Elfers to get some cement blocks. They were slightly chipped but usable so he got them at half price. The next day Bob Rose, Kenneth Garter and Bob Moreck came to mix mortar as Roy laid up all the corner pillars. He poured cement into the pillar blocks and placed termite shields which he had cut from salvaged pieces of tin from the old house roof. Hurricane anchors were also put in place. The city inspector came by the next day and all the work passed inspection. Griffith called to say he had moved all his equipment to Brooksville temporarily so the lowering of our building onto the pillars and removal of the steel beams would be delayed. This was disappointing.
November 30th – I was invited to give a speech at the Queen of Peace Altar Society. In return they donated $25.00 to our building fund.
December 4th – bids were received for the roofing. Lowest bid was from Bob Carroll, roofing contractor. Price quoted was for $15.00 per square foot for labor only with the Society furnishing the material. And labor necessary to repair wooden parts of roof would be an extra charge. Several places the rafters were rotted and would need replacing. The roof would be galvanized V. crimp roofing. Adamek Builders agreed on a price of $35.00 per square which was a wholesale price.
Linda Elkin had arranged for the Adult Education Band to play in the park for our December 13th drawing for the combolina prizes. They had to cancel at the last minute but I was lucky in getting Robert McNutt to bring the Hudson High School jazz band. This Sunday also turned out to be very cold and dreary with a light drizzle. We borrowed chairs from North Funeral Home and set them up in the park hoping the weather would change. The Hudson High Band gave an outstanding performance under very adverse conditions.
Of course the crowd was very small. Mayor George Henry came up to pull the winning numbers from a box. Winners were: 1st – Florence Reveillac – a sports coat donated by O’Henry’s Men’s Shop: valued at $130.00 — 2nd – a $100.00 table lamp donated by the Lite House, won by Linda Elkin — 3rd – a $75.00 floor lamp donated by Kane’s Furniture – won by Winnifred Harris — 4th – a portable cassette radio valued at $65.00 won by D. A. Johnson — 5th – hand crafted pottery made by Marcia Stickel, value $35.00 – won by John Bisci — 6th – a silver serving tray donated by Luria’s valued at $30.00 – won by Roy Obenreder — 7th – 3 cases Erlanger Beer won by Andrew Gregos — 8th – a copy of West Pasco’s Heritage won by Perry North — 9th – a red handbag won by Mary Cavorti — 10th – a folding umbrella won by Agnes Morrison. An afghan raffle was won by A.M. Burnett.
Roy discovered some children had been playing inside the building, which was dangerous, so he repaired the old front door so it could be shut and locked and nailed the back doors shut.
The next few days Roy borrowed a city dump truck and cleaned debris from the house and hauled to city dump. Arthur Reveillac and five adult students from the art class helped shovel some of this into the truck. There were several loads of old plaster and rotten boards.
On December 23rd Linda Elkin called to say the artists were considering other options and would like their portion of the funds to be returned. I told her it would be worked out at our next board meeting. They had all discovered the building was really quite small for two groups.
December 27th – Electrician Bobby Russ said he would wire the building for time and material as it would be impossible to give an estimate ahead of time or give an accurate bid due to the amount of work involved and the specifications to be met. It had to be wired in conduit to meet city codes and several fire exits had to be wired for installation. This was to be discussed at the board meeting.
December 29th I met with Treasurer Andrew Gregos at the Barnett Bank to get in the safe deposit box to make copies of documents he needed to apply for tax exempt status. Fire insurance policies received from Rogers and Cummings Insurance Co. were placed in the box. The premium for $15,000 fire insurance (the amount allowed by the company for an unfinished building under construction) was $264.00. The liability and property damage was in the amount of $300,000.00 at a cost of $175.00 annually. (Note: The society did eventually get a tax exempt number after much paper work by Treasurer Andrew Gregos.)
A NEW YEAR BEGINS – 1982
On January 5th I notified the city council of some changes which had been made in the lease agreement to us. The ninety nine (99) year lease had been changed to a ten (10) year lease with no renewal clause. This was unacceptable as too much work, time and money would be put into this effort for a short term period. I went before council at their next meeting to explain the objections. They agreed with the reasons and after a short discussion voted to give us a twenty five (25) year lease with renewable options. The city attorney was instructed to make the necessary changes.
The next three weeks were extremely cold, all work was canceled for this time.
We tried our luck with an amateur talent show at the New Port Richey Recreation Center. Mike DeRosa, a friend of mine, had a dance band and volunteered to play for the show before, during intermission and afterwards for dancing. It added a lot to our show. One man did a great lip-sync to a Dolly Parton record – in fact he really stole the show. But there were several other very good acts – one was a tap dance with batons, several groups did some clogging, singers with guitars, a young man composer who played guitar and sang one of his own country western songs, two small girls did a fantastic hula number and yours truly did a version of “Minnie Pearl.” Our ladies served hot chili and hot dogs during intermission. We made a profit of $300.00 and had a lot of fun doing it.
January 12th we met to plan our fashion show. Carmella Volpe of Byron’s would coordinate the fashions and be the moderator. Norma Nelson printed the tickets and made some flyers for publicity. She always did these with eye catching designs and color.
By the 18th we got a break in the weather. Roy began work on the front porch. Reveillac began to nail siding where it had torn loose. It seemed every piece on the house was loose, had to be re-nailed and several pieces replaced. Since it was impossible to buy matching siding, Roy cut some from lumber using a piece of the old siding for a pattern. It worked very well and most of the replaced siding was toward the bottom of the building.
January the 16th Donna Reigle, New Port Richey librarian, asked if the society would help with a book sale to be held at the Recreation Center. She wanted us to serve food. We jumped at the chance as we could sell chili I had stored in the freezer. There was about one hundred pounds left and I was anxious to sell it and be finished with it.
January 19th and 20th – Reveillac, Wm. Dunlap, Ted Sabo and H. Chenoweth worked to scrape old paint off the siding and to repair and replace the nails. Roy began to lay brick for the porch foundation.
The lease agreement with the city was recorded on January 20th by the Clerk of County Courts. A copy was sent to the society by the city with a note saying the original would be mailed later. Bob Carroll contractor, completed labor on the roof. A. Gregos made the check to pay the bill in full. It was $683.00 for labor only. Our men had examined the job and declared it was satisfactory. Carroll gave a full guarantee.
Many pieces of the “gingerbread trimming” around the roof was rotten. Roy removed one good piece, used it for a pattern and cut matching new ones from 2 x 4 x 8 lumber. He had seen an advertisement for 2 x 4 x 8’s at Lindsley Lumber Co. on Highway 19. He looked at them and since they were good and straight he purchased enough for finishing of roof rafters at a cost of sixty nine cents each.
On January 26th Roy’s brother Leo, a carpenter from Beacon Woods, helped Roy place the roof on the front porch and within a couple days the porch was completed. A builder friend of Roys gave him a set of concrete steps he had removed from an old house which exactly fit the front porch entrance. They were much too heavy to lift so I called Nelson Vogle, Superintendent of Public Works, and asked if he would have them moved some day when he had men working in that area. He said he would be glad to do that. Just a few days later they were put in place with a fork lift. We were all happy about that as we had been waking up a makeshift gangplank and not comfortable with that.
On January 26th a letter was written to the A. C. E. artists discontinuing our affiliation to use the building jointly. A check was enclosed for the entire amount they had placed in the joint bank account. This was done by mutual agreement. The Society also invited them to have an art display as our very first show after the opening of our building.
In the May-June newsletter of the Pasco Fine Arts council the following excerpt was written – “Plans have been canceled for a combined Museum-Gallery in Sims Park. The cooperative venture, which was to have been jointly operated by the West Pasco Historical Society and the Adult Community Education (ACE) Program, has encountered unexpected difficulties. Mrs. Maryanne Brown, President of the Ace group, and Mrs. Julie Obenreder, President of the Historical society, both expressed the view that it now appears the interests of both groups will be better served by dissolving the partnership and utilizing separate facilities.
The article concluded by saying the two organizations regret any misunderstanding or confusion which may have been caused by their joint fund raising and other activities and express confidence that the two groups will continue to serve and enrich the community.
January 29th – Arthur Reveillac, Wm. Dunlap, Andrew Gregos, Howard Chenoweth, O. J. Brisky and Roy worked most of the day. The exterior was almost ready for painting. Roy and Howard cut and fit plywood on all the places where siding was missing. It was impossible to buy matching siding so they made some. Ted and Betty Sabo raked and picked up trash from the area outside the building with the help of Leonard and Peggy Carr. The weather was ideal.
The next two days O. J. Brisky scraped window screens and removed glass from broken window panes. Bob Rose came over and caulked all the cracks and holes in the siding. Roy continued his work of cutting, fitting and replacing siding.
The first of February saw the completion of the cleaning, scraping, and replacing siding – the exterior was about ready to paint. Roy’s brother, Leo, helped Roy cut and fit the siding around the front porch. It all had to be fitted around the top. To save Roy from climbing up and down the ladder for every small piece Leo did the cutting, handed the pieces up to Roy as he fit them in place and nailed. The pieces were all scalloped (gingerbread) – so again Roy had to tear one old piece off to make a pattern for the balance. He wanted everything to match the original.
Bob Russ, electrician, spent the evening at our house while he and Roy drew up the plans for the wiring. The next day I took them to city hall along with a floor plan which the building department accepted and issued a permit with all fees waived.
The city council wanted to demolish the bandstand in the park. It had been built by the city in 1924 and used for various functions over the years. In the late twenties the city had a band which played concerts in the park from the gazebo. It had served as a platform for church services, political rallies, and more. I recall that during the Iran Hostage crisis a sister of one of the hostages from Tampa came to the park, held a rally and made some speeches from the gazebo. It seemed to have been such a part of our history that I did not want to see it destroyed. I talked with Manager Gallagher and he said we could move it to the area near the museum. The only problem was that we had no more funds available for such a move.
I contacted Bill Griffith, the man who moved the old school, and he quoted a price of $750.00 to move it from the area down by the river to the triangle near the museum. I told him it would be impossible as we had depleted our funds when we paid him. He phoned a few days later saying since he was a history buff himself and didn’t like to see any historical site destroyed he would donate his services. It was a couple weeks later he sent some trucks and men to the park and it took a couple days hard work but it was moved with no further problems. The New Port Richey Rotary Club agreed to renovate it, replacing roof, railing, and restoring it to its original state. It has been a most welcome addition to the triangle and is used more than ever. The city then had the wiring installed so it is more convenient than before.
February 4th – Gallagher agreed to write a letter of authorization to Florida Power to have a light installed in the park in front of the museum. Roy and Gregos began painting the exterior with primer. It was very difficult to brush on as the building had not been painted for years leaving the wood extremely dry and rough.
On February 5th Reveillac painted the top front of the building which was not an easy thing to do as he had to work overhead using an extension ladder borrowed from the N. P. R. Public -Works department. Roy started the arduous task of rebuilding all the windows . Every frame had to be carefully removed, squared, re-nailed, and thoroughly scraped. Originally they had all been varnished but over the years had been painted a hideous shade of green. There were twenty-two windows to be repaired, all with broken glass. I talked with Mrs. Morin of the Morin Glass Co. who gave us fifty percent off the price of the glass and she had it cut to fit.
The manager of WGUL asked me to do some sixty second promos on tape which they could use during Chasco Fiesta. They agreed to promote the museum in exchange for my services. I completed them after four weeks. They were played several times during the Fiesta Days and being historical in nature I am sure they helped our cause.
The Beacon Woods Civic Association was very helpful with my fund raising attempts. I made several speeches to groups there and each time the members purchased history books or some of the purses we sold.
Sunday – February 7th – the Port Richey Museum ladies invited all our members to a delightful tour of their museum and served tea and cookies. It was a nice social time and quite a few of our members turned out. Later we all went down to Sims Park to see how work was progressing there. Roy had been working alone all day on the windows which he said would be a time consuming: job. Each frame had to be pried out of the wall with extreme care in order not to damage the wood which would not have been available today.
February 9th – Reveillac, Dunlap, and Chenoweth painted on the exterior. Mr. Harold Brickhouse, a non-member volunteer, offered to help Roy with some of the work on the windows. He was especially experienced in glazing of the glass which was the next step. The work on the frames had been completed by Roy and he had put the primer coat of paint on the frames. Havco Paint Co. had donated several gallons of paint.
I spent the afternoon wrapping gifts for the fashion show prizes then drove to Land O’ Lakes to the County Preservation Board meeting.
Held a board meeting at the home of Kenneth Carter on February 10th. Had an update on work at the building and then the reverend Richard Wiggins of the Community Congregational Church talked to the group about participating in an auction sale as a benefit for the building fund. It was voted upon to have one as soon as it could be arranged. Elizabeth served coffee and doughnuts while all enjoyed a social hour.
During the day Roy had replaced the sash cords and weights on all the windows. Mr. Brickhouse glazed and replaced the glass in ten windows. Leonard Carr painted on the north side of the building which almost completed the primer coat.
Acey stopped by with more paint donated by Havco Paint Co. It was enough to complete the exterior painting. Scotty’s Builders Supply advertised pre-finished paneling at $3.59 per 4 x 3 sheet. Roy looked at it and ordered 376 sheets to finish the interior walls.
The new sash cord on the windows fixed them so they would slide up and down easily. The top windows are stationary, only the bottom half will open.
February 12th – Held our fashion show at the Hacienda Hotel. The lunch was delicious – baked chicken, baked potato, green beans, hot Italian bread, butter, beverage and cake. Mike Battista, hotel owner, gave us a price of $3.00 per plate. We sold tickets for $5.00 each, had a very good crowd, and with a raffle on the side, made a tidy profit.
February 13th – Andrew Gregos worked in the morning cleaning and painting window screens. Roy finished the job of replacing all the windows.
Mid – February – Roy started putting brown mortar mix on the foundation pillars preparatory to cutting on the brick.
Scotty’s delivered the paneling and Roy began to cut and fit it starting work in the library. For this job he had to buy a saw which cost $500.00. He paid for the saw himself and decided he could perhaps use it after the building was completed.
Bob Rose and A. Reveillac continued painting on the exterior.
H. Chenoweth came in on the 17th to help Roy with the paneling. It is a job that requires one to hold and one to nail as it is quite fragile. There were still several places where there were patches of plaster sticking between the cracks where the lathe had been removed. Gregos spent a few hours digging away at that so it wouldn’t poke a hole in the paneling.
Roy took his truck and made three trips to Our Lady Queen of Peace Church to pick up rummage given to us for our sale. And Donna Riegel, the New Port Richey librarian, loaned us a display case which would be returned if the library should need it. Letters to this effect were exchanged.
Roy worked every day from 8:30 until five. On the 19th he started paneling the hall and before he could do that he had to remove the doors and the framing around them to make the paneling fit properly. It was quite a tedious job.
From the 20th to the 25th Roy completed paneling the east room with the help of his brother Leo, William Dunlap, and A. Gregos. The painting on the exterior front was completed also. It is a lovely soft shade of white. And Bob Russ, the electrician, came by with the bill for the first part of the wiring, $100.00 for labor and 230.27 for materials. We are better than half way there.
February 25th – City Manager Gallagher phoned to say he had authorized Florida Power to install a security light in front of the building. Roy began paneling the west room. And we held our regular monthly meeting in the bank building on West Main St. We had a sloppy Joe supper before the meeting. This was to use up the remainder of the frozen chili. Pauline Matthews brought a salad to serve on the side. Janet Lewis brought deviled eggs and I had baked a cake. We put a donation box on me serving table and collected $30.00 to add to our building fund. Altogether it was a most friendly social hour.
The next day no one came to help Roy. He was anxious to complete the west room paneling and since he could not hold it up by himself and nail it without danger of it breaking I went to the building and did the best I could to hold it using a broom for a prop. It worked quite well. Then on the 27th the New Port Richey library had a book fair at the recreation center. Our group served chili, hot dogs and cake. One problem was that I had to get up at five a.m. to get all that chill thawed in time. And I was hoping we would sell every last bit so I would see the end of that chili. The affair lasted for two days. Our committee that helped was Peggy Merkle, Kay Wilkis, Ellen Kleckner, Janet Lewis, Mary Leitch, Ellen Seaman, Betty Sabo, Ida Brunner, Pauline Matthews, B. Lewis – We were all tired after two whole days but we did make a tidy profit and sold the balance of the chili. I sold the last of it by the quart for take-outs. And this same day Andrew Gregos made the first donation for the housekeeping department of the museum. It was a dust pan he purchased at a flea market for fifteen cents. So I decided to donate a broom to go with it. All we needed now was a housekeeper!!!
March 1st – Roy worked alone all day, mixed mortar and began cutting the brick on the pillars. He mixed red color in the mortar, a color which would be permanent and I should know – he got it all over his clothes which never did wash out. But when finished it looked exactly like real brick.
March 2nd – Leonard Carr spent a few hours pulling nails from lathe. Gregos and Dunlap painted, putting the second coat on the front of the building. Roy continued doing the brick work. This was the same thing the next day.
March 4th – No one to help Roy again today so I did what I could. It was a big help to him for me to just hand the various tools to him so he didn’t have to go up and down the ladder as he was finishing nailing the top portion of the paneling and finishing up around the edges. After lunch, Russ came in to complete the electrical work. Roy helped him with that and they both worked ’til after six p.m. but now it was ready for city inspection.
March 5th – Roy removed remaining lath from ceiling, Gregos and Dunlap painted until it started raining. Seven Springs Country Club donated thirty sheets of rock lath and will loan the scaffolding to use for installation.
March 6th and 7th – rainy and very cold. Roy and I took his truck and went to the Colonial Manor Civic Center to pick up rummage they had donated for our sale.
March 8th – the Community Congregational Church also donated rummage left over from their sale. Roy took his truck again and Reveillac, Andrew and Adele Gregos, and Pauline Matthews helped pack it and move to the museum area. Roy completed all the brick work – it is all done around all the pillars and around the front porch. Looks like the real thing.
March 12th – U. S. Steel Corporation offered to donate all ceiling material and would install it for the cost of the labor, approximated to be $700.00. Roy spent the day removing the nails from the ceiling lath preparatory to installing the dry wall.
March 16th – Florida Power Corporation completed installing the security light in front of the building. It was turned on for the first time and we drove up to take a look. It lit the entire front of the building and looked very nice. Roy had spent the entire day mixing cement in a wheelbarrow and poured the slab at the foot of the steps. He put his initials and the date in the wet cement. He said, “well every artist signs their work so I signed mine.” Our treasurer paid Bob Russ for phase two of the electrical wiring – amount $374.00.
March 17th – City inspector passed the wiring done to date. Andrew Gregos painted the front of the building. “Dyke” Taylor brought his pick up truck and took an old, very large, ice box that had been left in the building by the Friersons. He donated an antique brass door knob which Roy spent three hours installing because it did not fit and he had to adjust it. We were glad to get rid of the ice box. It was much too bulky for any use in the building.
March 19th through 21st – Roy and Wm. Dunlap worked in the big room removing all the old ceiling lath. Roy took it down while Dunlap carried it out and helped clean up the mess it made. Roy had trouble with his shoulders after all this overhead work and wanted to rest a few days so luckily this was when the crew from U. S. Steel came to install the rock lath. Altogether the job took over a week as they had to use two coats and it all involved moving scaffolds a couple times. But they were finished in April first and the ceilings looked fantastic.
Another month beginning – April 2nd – Andrew Gregos scraped old paint off windows and washed them. Quite a job but now you can actually see out of them. Roy installed all the ceiling electrical plates but complained so of his shoulders and arms aching from working overhead again that he went home early to doctor them up and rest.
Saturday – April 3rd. Rummage sale day. Roy went to the city recreation department and borrowed tables which we set up outside in the park. I want to say here that the staff at the recreation department was always very helpful. There was an art show around the lake drawing crowds and was good for our sale. The members working for the day were: Ellen Kleckner, Ellen Seaman, Pauline Matthews, Janet Lewis, Andrew Gregos, Mary Leitch, Norma Nelson, Charlotte Tupes, William and Elna Dunlap, Roy and myself. We cleared about $300.00 for the day.
April 5th, 6th and 7th – M. Chenoweth, and Roy continued installing paneling while A. Gregos washed more windows which required a lot of scraping of old paint that was smeared on them.
I went to City Hail to pick up the copy of the lease agreement we had made with the city which had been recorded with the County Clerk of Courts. It was dated January 21, 1982. This is to be placed in the safe deposit box at Barnett Bank.
Later that day I attended the city council meeting to put it on record that the outside of the building had been completed as promised — on time.
Thursday , April 8th – Gregos and Roy were glad the scaffolding was still up in the building as they surely needed it to reach the upper part of the wall paneling. Gregos cut some of the small pieces and handed them up so Roy didn’t have to jump up and down. It was quite time consuming to fit all those pieces.
After lunch several boxes of left over rummage was packed into the truck and delivered to the Goodwill.
April 12th and 13th – H. Chenoweth and Roy worked on the front exterior gable replacing rotten boards. One board fell from the top of the high ladder Roy was working on and hit Howard on his little finger cutting it severely. The first injury since the beginning of the renovation. Roy had received many scrapes, bruises, sand spurs, sore legs and aching shoulders but he considered them to be minor inconveniences. Fortunately Howard’s finger healed without any complications but of course it slowed him down for a couple weeks.
Roy and Gregos worked on the front gable the next three days and completed putting all the wood in place which looks very neat and definitely adds to the architecture of the building.
April 19th, 20th and 21st – There were several odds and ends that needed to be completed. Roy started by cutting some wire and placing it above the front part of the porch to keep the pigeons out, installed a dead bolt on the front door. There were five keys for the dead bolt to be distributed among the officers.
A. Gregos went to Havco Paint Co. to pick up some stain sealer which he used on the raw wood on the front gable. It really looked nice when it was finished.
Roy and I scrubbed the woodwork around the office area and some of the doors, then varnished one door for a sample test. It came out o.k. and. was a contrast for the light paneling.
A large pile of bricks were carried to the back side of the building and laid up temporarily to conceal some of the debris we had placed under the building. It would be hauled away after all the usable material was gone.
I phoned the insurance company to come and give us an appraisal for an increase in fire insurance as the building was considerably more valuable now than the original policy of $15,000.00
Roy had two antique light fixtures he had donated and installed in the hallway. There would have to be more lighting there but these had come from the old Nicks home in Port Richey.
April 25th – Had an open house from 2:00 until 3:00 p.m. so members who had not yet been involved could come to inspect, see how things were coming along and perhaps give some of their ideas. Only fourteen members showed up however which was a little disappointing.
April 28th – we had a newsletter to get out. We met at Mary Leitch’s home to address envelopes. The helpers were Kay.Wilkis, Agnes Morrison, Ida Brunner, Mary and myself.
May 1st and 2nd – Janet Lewis, Pauline Matthews, Frances and Oswald Howland, and Andrew and Adele Gregos cleaned the woodwork while Roy installed a large wall unit gas furnace donated by Joseph Obenreder (Roy’s brother). It had been inspected and approved by city inspectors. Suburban Propane Company was called to install a large tank and connect the heater.
While inspectors were looking around they informed Roy there must be two exits, one at each side of the building. The exit lights had already been installed but now Roy had to build two small porch exits with steps and railings. This took several days labor. They passed city inspection with no problem.
May 3rd – A city dump truck came over and picked up the remainder of all the trash and debris around the building to take it to the city dump. Janet Lewis donated a chain to put on the light in the library so the workers could reach it. Roy installed that and also a chain on the front door so it could be opened easier.
I made two fund raising speeches – one to the Optimist Club at noon, another to the Lions Club in the evening. Both groups have been very supportive.
May 15th – Roy went to the doctor for tests after feeling under the weather for a few days. This was followed by major surgery on May 26th and since his work was put on hold for the time being and the society normally discontinued activities for the summer months, we went to Pennsylvania for his recovery.
The group who stayed in New Port Richey continued doing some of the work necessary to meet the scheduled opening date of January, 1983. This included Frances and Oswald Howland, Adele and Andrew Gregos, Pauline Matthews, William Dunlap and Janet Lewis. They varnished the woodwork and finished the floors. And it was a hot summer with no air conditioning in the building.
We returned from the north a few days after Labor Day and Roy immediately began working long hours to finish all the odds and ends that needed to be done before opening day. The wiring had been done for the exit lights but they had to be installed as did a fire extinguisher. We consulted with a wrought iron company regarding installation of railing around the porch and down the front steps. The best bid came from the Mary Lame Wrought Iron Co. and would be put in prior to our opening day.
We held another rummage sale in October and cleared enough to more than pay for the wrought iron which was $350.00.
In November we held a dinner – show featuring Magic. Lou Harris and his wife were the entertainers and did a terrific job of both music and magic. Kenneth Carter was chairman for this affair which was held at the Hacienda Hotel. The tickets were 36.00 each which included dinner and show. With a couple nice items for raffle we cleared over $350.00 which we considered to be a very successful event as well as a fun time for all.
October and November were especially busy times for me as I continued trying to raise funds. Some of the groups I spoke to and who offered help were the Sons Of the American Revolution, the Pennsylvania Club, the High Twelve Club. several of the Questers clubs, the Professional Business ,Women’s Club and more.
Estelle Garner worked with Janet Lewis to organize the library. Ceil Zubrod made a very pretty curtain for the rest room window. Pauline Matthews sanded and varnished a cabinet to go in the library.
Howard Chenoweth helped Roy as often as he could as they tried to finish up all the little things that needed done. Andrew Gregos came in when he could to help as did some of the women.
In December we began sending out invitations to our opening ceremony. Jeff Miller of WGUL was kind enough to invite me to join him on Open Line to put in a plug for the museum opening.
Roy donated and installed a cabinet sink in the kitchen. One of the biggest jobs to do in the last weeks had been to build an addition to the rear of the building for the kitchen and rest rooms. All this had to go before the City Council again for approval and to the building department for permits. Roy and Christina Thompson of Thomco Co. donated the windows for the two rest rooms and two larger ones for the kitchen. Progressive Floor Covering Co. on U.S. 19 North donated linoleum for the rest rooms and kitchen which Roy, Chenoweth and Gregos installed.
The New Port Richey Garden Club offered to donate shrubbery and have the landscaping done. We went out to “MY BROTHERS NURSERY” where the members of the Garden Club picked out the shrubs and also a cedar tree which was supposed to be very fast growing but after five years I see no sign of growth in that tree but the shrubs have been doing very well. We had hoped it would be a city Christmas tree of the future.
Leonard and Mae Taylor donated a refrigerator for our kitchen. This was a welcome addition. We will not be permitted to cook in the kitchen except in either a microwave or an electric roaster as the kitchen was not approved for that in our permit. To add such a kitchen would have been very expensive to meet fire department code regulations.
Plumbing was another big job. This had to be contracted through a registered plumber. The best bid was received from the Gunter Plumbing Company. We had to purchase all the fixtures, including two sinks and two commodes. Special permits had to be granted to install a septic tank. The state did not want any septic tank in that area but after researching done by the city staff it was clear no city sewer was available at the triangle and would have involved the installation of several hundred feet of pipe and getting permits to go under the state road if we were to hook into a city sewer which was more than five hundred feet across the park at the city rest rooms in the park. For this reason we finally were given a permit after all the percolation tests, etc. were completed to install a septic tank. A 750-gallon tank was then installed at the rear of the building.
The men continued to work hard and fast to finish shelves in the library and kitchen, to hang the inside doors, paint the front steps and a hundred more small chores that popped up at the last minute. Staff members from the city recreation department delivered some tables to set up displays for the opening day.
1983- A NEW YEAR
The opening day finally arrived. JANUARY 16, 1983 – a red letter day for all who worked so hard to make the museum a reality. It was an extremely cold day with a raw wind whipping across the park, nevertheless we held our ceremonies in the gazebo which we had moved to the area and had been so well renovated by the Rotary Club.
The Methodist Church had donated seventy five folding chairs which we had placed outside although it was much too cold to enjoy sitting there. A sound system was set up courtesy of the recreation department, former Mayor E. Miller Smith was the Master of Ceremonies. As usual Norma Nelson had printed programs of the event. Guests included the Honorable Michael Bilirakis, our Congressman, Mayor George Henry, County Commissioner Sylvia Young, and members of the Frierson family, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Alex Acey of Seven Springs.
Brief speeches were made by several of the quests with Julie Obenreder speaking in behalf of the Historical Society. This was followed by the ribbon cutting at the museum by Mayor George Henry. The crowd then toured the building. We had approximately 600 people view the facility. We then walked over to the Hacienda Hotel where hot coffee and cookies were served courtesy of Mike Battista, hotel owner.
To continue our fund raising we held a Valentine Fashion Show which would be an annual event, Fashions were by J. Byron’s. We sold 150 tickets at 36.00 each and raffled a lovely crocheted afghan. This was also held at the Hacienda Hotel which cost the Society $3.50 per person so once again we had a tidy profit.
Elections were held in April with Alex Acey being elected president. The museum was well under way.
I left office with all bills paid, the building was free and clear of all debt, and there was in excess of three thousand dollars in our treasury.
The building will progress from here as a memorial to all those dedicated to preserving the history of this area. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all who worked so hard to accomplish this.
An Epilogue to the Building of a Museum
A building committee was appointed in February of 1986 to pursue plans for an addition to the museum. The committee appointed by President Alex Acey consisted of Howard Chenoweth, Leonard Carr and myself. A meeting was held in February to discuss plans. It was decided more room was definitely needed if we hoped to continue expanding and to preserve our Pasco Heritage. All committee members felt we should have a larger meeting room, a larger kitchen, storage rooms, handicap facilities, and more display area.
In April Julie Obenreder was again elected President and accepted for a one year term to help bring about the needed addition.
Obenreder had a conversation with John Grey in which he stated the hope to have some sort of memorial for his father, the late James E. Grey. He offered to pay for the architectural fee for the drawing up of the plans for the addition, Grey contacted Frey and Johnson, architects, who completed the first drawing of plans in May, 1986. These were discussed by the Society Board and placed on display in the meeting room. All members were invited to inspect the plans and comment on any changes or corrections that should be made. No one had any suggestions as to changes.
After taking office in May the first order of business for Obenreder v/as to proceed with the plans by presenting them to the City Council. The Council approved the plans unanimously and agreed to an additional twenty five year lease on park property.
Plans were taken to city hall for review and were rejected by the fire department since the plans had been drawn for a wooden structure similar to the original building. The fire department insisted on concrete. The plans were taken back to Frey and Johnson and a new set of plans drawn to conform to concrete. City Council requested that the building would look similar to the original building in appearance. The architects explained stucco would be applied to simulate lap siding. John Grey paid the architects one thousand dollars but since the second drawing was necessary Frey and Johnson agreed to absorb and donate the additional fee of seven hundred dollars.
We received a second rejection from the fire department stating the plans did not show a distance of ten feet or more between the old building and the proposed new building. Frey and Johnson once more made changes on the specification sheet but made no additional charge.
In October of 1986 we received our third rejection from the fire department. This time it was for too few fire detectors, and the plans specified a kitchen with a stove. To accommodate a stove in the kitchen the plans would have had to specify a fireproof wall, vent system, etc. We felt these conditions would be too expensive so Frey and Johnson once more was called upon to make some changes. They deleted the stove and in its place was to be a microwave oven which passed the fire department regulations. We had two more items rejected – the storage areas needed to be constructed of a non-flammable material and the door openers had to be hydraulic bar type.
Finally — on Christmas Eve I received word from Chief Roy Miller that all plans were now o.k. He had taken me plans to city hall building department for the Department Review Board consideration.
Between January and March I made several frustrating trips to city hall to get the plans finally o.k.’d by all departments.
A new lease agreement was sent to the Society by the City but there were a couple items which were unacceptable This meant another Council meeting to request changes. Council accepted the Proposed changes and the city attorney requested the Society to have a new survey made of the area to be covered in the lease. A board meeting was called to get approval for the survey which would cost $180.00. Howard Chenoweth accompanied me to talk to Gem Surveyors. Gem had done the original survey in 1981 and we explained that area was to be greatly enlarged in front, on each side and toward the point in the rear. Howard Chenoweth drew a diagram of what we desired to be included.
The survey was completed and the new lease was drawn up by the city attorney on May 12th. This lease was for a twenty five year period with a renewable clause.
During the year another building fund drive was initiated. One thousand letters were mailed and other fund raisers had been held. Approximately eleven thousand dollars was donated and was placed in a Certificate of Deposit in the Barnett Bank to be used as a building fund.
I went out of office in May, ’86 and as I write this epilogue in 1990 I understand there has been no progress on the addition. Much of the history of this immediate area is being lost because of lack of space to house it. There is still a need for the expansion but someone with the vision of preservation must pick up the torch and carry on.
Julie J. Obenreder