That’s how much time Longboat Key Historical Society President Michael Drake has to move two historic cottages from the former Center for the Arts property.
“By the end of this month, they have to be off of the site,” Drake said.
Drake is raising funds to relocate the two cottages, which were built in the 1930s as part of the Whitney Resort, to make them a headquarters for the Historical Society.
In June, developer Jim Clabaugh purchased the 2.3-acre arts center site from Ringling College for $1.85 million. Clabaugh intends to construct 12 single-family homes on the land, and work on the site has already begun.
A July 5 memo from the Historical Society’s board of directors details Drake’s plan to move the cottages to 521 Broadway St. There, the smaller cottage, which is about 380 square feet, will be used as a museum for the society’s materials, including artifacts and photos.
Drake envisions the larger, 1,100-square-foot cottage as a place for gatherings and meetings. The memo describes it as “a place to grow the programs of the society, to offer stimulating agendas, and to assure those who are active today will have their stories preserved for the future.”
The plan includes two phases of fundraising. The goal of the first phase is to gather $100,000 to move the cottages and secure them on foundations on the new site. According to the memo, no money will be spent until the goal has been met, and Drake said he’s looking into options to have the cottages moved if the campaign doesn’t initially reach the hoped-for levels of fundraising.
“In the event we fall short, Phase One donations will be refunded,” the memo reads.
The target for the second phase is to raise $450,000 to ultimately acquire the property at 521 Broadway St. for the Historical Society.
As of July 11, the society has raised nearly $20,000, Drake said.
The Historical Society has distributed the memo to local resident groups, including the Longbeach Village Association and Keep Longboat Special, in an effort to raise money.
On July 10, Keep Longboat Special founders Carla and Pete Rowan forwarded the message to the 1,400 people on the group’s distribution list, urging them to donate.
“This is an effort that we can all get behind and support,” the Rowans wrote.
Along with reaching out to local groups to raise funds, Drake said the Historical Society is planning to bring back its fish fry in November, a popular tradition of the group.
Drake said he also hopes the town will get involved in supporting the Historical Society, as many other municipalities do with their own historical organizations.
“It’s almost a necessity that the town of Longboat Key become a huge supporter in our endeavors,” Drake said.
Drake announced his plan in June. In March, north end resident group LBK North began a public discourse about the possibility of the town relocating the larger of the two cottages to a former gas station property across the street from Drake’s proposed location. That property, though, is no longer available.
After seeing the memo, LBK North member Denton Crews said the group’s “cause is definitely worthy.”
“Saving the cottage is very important, as initially proposed by LBK North, and having a home for the Historical Society is perhaps even more important,” Crews said. “I’d have to say on a personal level that I would wish success for the (Historical Society).”
Drake makes his commitment to the initiative clear.
“One way or another, we’ll get this thing done,” Drake said. “We will make it happen.”
To donate to the Longboat Key Historical Society:
Longboat Key Historical Society
260 Bay Isles Road
P.O. BOX 8744
Longboat Key, FL 34228