Make us your home page
Instagram

Chinsegut Hill Manor House primed for turnaround

BROOKSVILLE — Just a few months ago, supporters of the historic Chinsegut Hill Manor House almost felt like throwing in the towel.

Turned down by agency after agency in their quest to keep the 165-year-old landmark and its picturesque grounds from being "surplussed" — or sold to a private buyer — the nonprofit Friends of Chinsegut Hill made a last ditch pitch to the Hernando County Commission. It asked the commission to underwrite a plan to lease the facility from the state and keep it in public hands.

When commissioners gave the go-ahead in January for economic development manager Mike McHugh to negotiate a lease with state, things began to turn around.

Public support for the facility blossomed. Local and regional preservation groups pledged to donate money and raise more in the future. And last week, Friends learned that the 2013-14 budget proposed by state lawmakers includes $1.5 million to help restore the antebellum plantation house.

"We're on the home stretch right now," said Friends member Christie Anderberg, who three years ago helped spearhead the move to save the manor house. "It looks as if we're going to finally get this done."

For now, Anderberg's biggest concern is securing the county's lease before the state's June 1 deadline. At the same time, she is rallying support to encourage Gov. Rick Scott to keep the money for Chinsegut in the budget.

"I sent out about 100 emails last week asking people who love Chinsegut to help us out by writing Gov. Scott," Anderberg said. "That money will go a long way to solving a lot of issues with the house."

McHugh said on Tuesday that he and his staff are putting the final touches on a five-year lease agreement that he will present to county commissioners on May 21. It will name Friends of Chinsegut Hill as the tenant of the house and its surrounding 114-acre preserve. McHugh said he expects the commission to approve the plan.

"A lot of people have worked hard to make this all come about," McHugh said. "This is an important asset for the county, and it makes sense to do what we can to keep it open and available to the public."

Anderberg said that Friends is continuing to move forward with plans to bring the historic landmark up to a standard where it can be made marketable as an environmental education center and tourist destination. A $14,000 structural evaluation by Preservation Resource of Brooksville that was paid for by the Friends revealed minor problems with the building's foundation. Fixing them would cost about $20,000, Anderberg said.

Meanwhile, the group is continuing to raise money to match a $50,000 challenge grant it was recently awarded by the Felburn Foundation. The effort so far has netted about $11,000.

Anderberg said that once the lease is signed, her group plans to hold some events on the grounds of the facility, which has been closed to the public for two years.

"We're very anxious for people to be able to come out and see what a beautiful place it is," Anderberg said.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1435.

Chinsegut Hill Manor House primed for turnaround 05/07/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 6:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  2. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]