History of Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum

 

The idea of Cedar Key Historical Museum began with artist Polly Pillsbury. She and her husband Sam moved to Cedar Key from Jacksonville in the early 1970’s. Polly opened an art studio and enjoyed painting Cedar Key scenes and historic buildings. She learned of Cedar Key’s unusual and rich history dating back to the early 1800’s before Florida even became a State. She thought it very important that this history not be lost and to this end and she began to spearhead an effort to form the Cedar Key historical Society with the ultimate goal of establishing a Cedar Key Historical Museum to preserve and display the history of Cedar key. She succeeded in obtaining the charter for the Cedar Key Historical Society from the State of Florida in 1977. She and other interested local citizens then began raising money through fundraisers and private donations. These efforts were successful in raising $5,000.00, which was used to purchase the Lutterloh Building from Mrs. Gertrude Teas. The purchase agreement also included payments of $100.00 per month to Mrs. Teas as long as she lived. Polly had help from other charter members, which included Mrs. Gertrude Teas, Billie Hindal, Etta Watson, Mary Ann Delaino, Helen Evans, Bill & Janet Betts, Webster & Marie Johnson, Mary Hale Mizell, Henry Rucker, Ruth Wagner, Fran Taylor and others.

 

Two archeologists, Gordon and Barbara DeAngelo from Maine were spending the winters in Cedar Key at that time and with the help of Ruth Wagner and others collected numerous artifacts, photos etc. Display cases were obtained from shops and stores on 2nd Street, which had gone out of business and were empty or had been converted to other enterprises not needing display cases. The DeAngelos were in charge of creating most of the wonderful exhibits currently housed in the Lutterloh Building. Dr. Joseph Dill a retired surgeon and photographer and his wife moved to Cedar Key in the early 1970’s. He contacted most of the old Cedar Key families and succeeded in collecting the wealth of old photos that now make the hanging photo collection in the museum and many others that are stored in the historical archives. Dr. Charles Fishburne a professional historian also moved to Cedar Key around 1980 and was responsible for collecting many of the historical documents now in our historical archives. He also published a great book entitled The Cedar Key in the 19th Century.

 

Everything was completed and the Museum was opened to public in 1979. It was an immediate success and of course continues to be to this day. The City of Cedar Key owes much to this farsighted group of citizens who put untold hours and vision to create what probably is the best small museum in the State of Florida.

 

More space was needed for exhibits so Lindon Lindsey’s son Don and his cousin built an addition to the west side of the Lutterloh Building in memory of his deceased wife Marguerite. At this time this room houses exhibits depicting the pictorial history of Cedar Key, the seafood industry and the photo-hanging file.

 

In the 1980’s a small old cracker style house located in Otter Creek previously occupied by a black family named Strong in the early 1900’s was donated to and accepted by the Historical Society. It was moved to the Museum property behind the Lutterloh Building where the Andrews house now sits. There was disagreement on the board about this house since it had no connection with the history of Cedar Key. Board member Bill Betts approached Dr. John Andrews about Andrews home, which was a highly historic Cedar Key home. It was also much larger than the Strong House and would provide more much needed space for the exhibits. President Sidney Padgett presented this option to the board in 1994 and it was agreed to move the Strong House and replace it with the Andrews House.

 

Dan and John Andrews agreed to donate their family home of necessary funds and permits could be obtained. A road block was encountered with FEMA which required the house be elevated if moved to a new site unless its historic designation by the State was not lost. The State objected because the directional orientation of the house was going to be different in its new location. After much correspondence, telephone conversations, with the Division of Historic Preservation in Tallahassee which included letters from Senator Charles Williams and representative Don Fuqua, the State’s and FEMA’s approval was obtained and the City of Cedar Key issued a permit for the relocation of the Andrews House from the Fenimore Mill site to the Museum Property.

 

In the meantime, a $42,500.Florida Division of Cultural Affairs matching grant had been approved pending the necessary permits. Additional funds included donations of $5,000.h from Dr. John Andrews and Dr. Lamar Crevasse, $1,000. each from Mr. Marvin Gresham, and Al Alsobrook, all of Gainesville, FL. An additional $6,000. was donated by Dr. John Andrews to pay the moving company for moving the house to its new location in 1995. The telephone, power and cable companies donated their services which were required to raise the wires and cables along the route of the museum property. Mac McCain did the necessary removal and trimming of the trees at no charge. Lindon Lindsey’s son Don of Chiefland prepared the site and built the foundation and did not charge for this labor. Donations were received from the Historical Society members, local citizens and businesses in addition to several fundraises which accounted for the remainder of the funds necessary to restore the building. The City of Cedar Key also donated $500. Mr. Greg Lang was the general contractor who oversaw the project and accepted no payment for his services.

 

A great deal of the inside finishing was done by the volunteers which included George Delaino, Burton Walrath and Dan and John Andrews. There was also volunteer work done by Jack Tyson, Kenny Baylor, Maurice Rix, Gene Hunter, Mac and Kenny McCain. It was truly a community effort. Most of the restoration was completed in 1998. The remainder was done by volunteers and all of the exhibit work was done by Elizabeth Ehrbar, Peggy Rix, with the help of Maurice Rix, Eric Brogren, Gil Ruggles and Dr. John Andrews.

 

 

 

All of the artifacts in the Fiber and Brush exhibit were donated by Dr. John Andrews. The artifacts in the Railroad exhibit were donated by several different individuals, including Henry and Brenda Coulter. Henry’s grandfather, Mr. William Coulter was a conductor on the train and his old conductor’s uniform is on the manikin in the railroad exhibit and is a striking part of this exhibit. The historic medical instruments were donated by Dr. John Andrews cousin, Dr. Edwin Andrews and belonged to his Father and Grandfather who were also physicians. The Pharmacy exhibit was donated by University of Florida Pharmacy Professor Dr. Rudolph Blythe in 1990. The dental chair and dental instruments belonged to Dr. John Andrews father, Dr. Dan Andrews (a dentist) were donated by DR. John Andrews. The Mid-Wife’s paraphernalia which belonged to Mrs. Susie Coburn Bishop, were donated by the Bishop family. The replica of the fiber factory site was created and donated by Mr. Wayland Wadley as well as a replica of the “BIG DOCK”, circa 1920’s with buildings and RR cars present. There was an Open House celebration and the Andrews house opened to the public on February 2, 2002.

 

When it first opened the upstairs living room of the Andrews House was made for group meetings, weddings, etc. Since then historian Lindon Lindsey has donated a wealth of historical documents, photos and books that are now housed there and with occasional exceptions it is no longer available for meetings other than the monthly Historical Board Meetings.

 

The Lutterloh Building was built by Mr. J.B. Lutterloh in 1871. He was an attorney who lived upstairs and his office was downstairs. In the 1940’s a major renovation was done. The roof was changed from a gable to flat roof with a parapet. The frame structure and part of the walls were replaced with concrete block and outside was stuccoed. In about 2005 it became evident that the building was settling and tilting and the roof was leaking despite efforts to repair it. It became apparent that a major renovation was going to be necessary or the building was going to be lost. A State planning grant was prepared and submitted and subsequently granted in the amount of $50,000 by the State Division of Historical Resources. Architect Hal Reid of Ocala was retained to do the architectural and engineering work. It appeared that a construction grant was not going to be available from the State of Florida. The City of Cedar Key CRA was approached and $500,000 grant was approved. Additional monies for exhibit preparation were raised from donations by Historical Society members and others.

 

Anglin Construction Company of Gainesville was awarded the contract, the project began in November 2008 and was completed June 15, 2009. It required almost complete demolition and rebuilding of the building without any change in its footprint or exterior appearance. Greg Lang was the overseer of the project which came in under budget with $12,752. being returned to the City of Cedar Key CRA.

 

 

 

Removal. Labeling, photographing and storage of all of the exhibit artifacts was a huge undertaking. The exhibits were stored in the upstairs of the Andrews House and the large items were stored in Doris Hellerman storage facility during the construction process. This was carried out by volunteers Elizabeth  Ehrbar, Joan Phelps and Julie Stephens with additional help from others. Fortunately the Andrews House and Doris’ facility were available for the temporary storage of the above items.

 

Once construction was completed, the huge job of rebuilding the original exhibits as well as adding several new exhibits was carried out by the same ladies. They did a fantastic job and we are very much in their debt for taking on and completing such a huge undertaking.

 

Many members, other individuals as well as local businesses made financial contributions to both major projects described above. Others helped with fund-raisers such as yard sales and auctions. Special recognition should also go to long-standing and present board members Doris Hellerman. Jackie Padgett, Marianne McEuen, and George Sresovich who have contributed to the success of the museum.

 

Deceased members Jack Tyson and Dorothy Tyson who lived across the street were quick to see that anything that needed to be done was done and did many other things that contributed to the success of the museum.

 

Dorothy’s memory is preserved by the presence of the beautiful memorial garden made possible by contributions from family and friends. This was lovingly cared for by Jackie Padgett and Lucille Andrews for many years.

 

Many thanks should also do to our Ruth Wagner docent who put a human face on the museum and without whom it could not be function. They are indispensable. Local historian Grady McLeod was almost a permanent fixture at the museum for many years where he generously shared with visitors his extensive knowledge of the history of Cedar Key.

 

We are also indebted to the grants we have received from the State of Florida and especially to the City of Cedar Key for the tremendous construction grant to save the Lutterloh Building.

 

As the years go by, the work of the people that came before us and have made possible what we and the City of Cedar Key have to enjoy is easily forgotten. It is with this in mind that this brief history of the Cedar Key Historical Society is written.

 

Respectfully submitted to the Board of the Directors, April, 2013 by Dr. John Andrews

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