Longboat Key Historical Society President Tom Mayers has fond memories of The Buccaneer Inn. Decades ago, it was one of just three or four top-notch restaurants on the Key. It had murals of pirates being served by wenches. For a while, a one-legged man greeted diners. And Mayers even took his prom date to the restaurant. But he also remembers that there was an iconic pirate statue that stood in front of the restaurant, which opened in 1956.
Today, The Buccaneer Inn is gone, and the Grand Mariner condominium development, which went into foreclosure in 2008, stands in its place. But, while the pirate statue has weathered over the years and lost its nose, it remains standing on Dream Island Road.
For the past two years, the Historical Society sought to remove the statue to give it a permanent home. Mayers said that Tom Hires, whose Chicago-based Terrapin Properties LLC developed Grand Mariner, recently told the group that it could take the statue.
Mayers said the Historical Society has contacted the town to discuss the possibility of moving the statue to public land, possibly in one of the town’s parks.
Longboat Key Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said that he would discuss the possibility of moving the statue with the Historical Society in the future, however, the Longboat Key Town Commission would need to approve a move to public land.
The group also has contacted local business leaders about the possibility of giving the pirate a home.
Cannons Marina owner David Miller said that the Historical Society contacted him about possibly putting the statue on the marina’s property.
“It’s something I would consider, but I have no idea where I’d put it,” Miller said.
Whitney Beach Plaza owner Andrew Hlywa said that he would also be willing to put the statue on the shopping center’s property.
Mayers said that the discussion began back when the Historical Society’s museum was located in the former Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce building at 6960 Gulf of Mexico Drive. At that time, Mayers said, the group planned to move the statue into its museum.
But now that the Historical Society has moved into Whitney Beach Plaza, which is currently for sale, the group wants to find the statue a permanent home. Because the statue weighs approximately 1,000 pounds and would have to be moved using a crane, Historical Society members want to be sure that the statue won’t be uprooted from its new home.
“It’s just part of Longboat Key history,” Mayers said. “We want to do right by that history and that memory by finding a home for it.”
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