The organization's museum closed in 2012.
As the town explores the possibility of relocating a historic cottage, the Longboat Key Historical Society hopes for a new home.
In November 2012, the historical society closed its museum at Whitney Beach Plaza, where it had operated since 2008. According to the group’s Pam Coleman, the organization began in the 1980s.
After the museum closed, Coleman kept the society’s materials, including photographs, paintings and shell collections, in public storage until the group could no longer afford it. Now, the historic materials are stored in Coleman’s home.
The prospect of a new venue has the historical society reenergized.
“We’re all for it,” Coleman said. “We’re really looking forward to it and hope it goes through.”
The potential venue is a cottage, originally built in the 1930s as part of the historic Whitney Resort. The approximately 42-by-42-foot structure, built by Gordon Whitney, was moved to the Longboat Key Center for the Arts property to be used as a studio after the resort closed in the early 1950s.
In February, Ringling College of Art and Design announced its plans to sell the arts center property to a private developer, who intends to construct single-family homes. The Center for the Arts is expected to close at the end of May, though a timeline for the development of the property isn’t clear.
North end resident group LBK North has spearheaded efforts to relocate the cottage to the intersection of Broadway Street and Gulf of Mexico Drive, where an abandoned gas station currently sits.
Along with being considered as a venue for the historical society, potential uses for the cottage include a welcome center for Longboat Key and a meeting place for resident groups. Coleman hopes the cottage can serve as all three of those possibilities.
At a Town Commission workshop meeting on Monday, commissioners discussed the prospect of acquiring both the gas station property and the cottage. While the commission was generally receptive to the idea, some members noted logistical problems, including time and funding.
At the meeting, Town Manager Dave Bullock said he would begin evaluating a potential course of action, starting with an appraisal of the land.