Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

3-D video of Chinsegut Hill manor house provides new view of history

BROOKSVILLE — Most people would agree that the 163-year-old Chinsegut Hill manor house is among the most photographed edifices in Hernando County, with the earliest known images dating to the early 1900s.

But thanks to advanced 3-D technology and the endeavors of a team of spatial engineers from the University of South Florida, the storied structure now has a new photographic record that will provide valuable information to future generations of historians.

The recently completed project by the university's Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies involved setting up sophisticated terrestrial laser scanning cameras throughout the manor house to capture images that were later strung together to create a rolling three-dimensional "flyover" video image. The project took place in the spring during the early phase of an extensive $1.5 million restoration that is set to be completed by early September.

Friends of Chinsegut Hill director Christie Anderberg said the team spent several weeks at the site and was allowed access to areas of the structure that had been dismantled to replace rotting wood. The completed photos offered a rare glimpse of the dwelling, the construction of which began in 1851.

As a knowledgeable expert on the manor house, Anderberg has seen nearly every existing early photo of the home. The new three-dimensional photos capture a character of the structure she hadn't thought much about until now.

"It must have been a very comfortable place to live," she said. "It's very sturdy and well built. You can't imagine it ever falling down. No matter what."

One of Hernando County's oldest homesteads, Chinsegut Hill dates to 1847, when Col. Byrd Pearson laid claim to the land and surrounding acres to build a home and cultivate sugar cane. Four years later, he sold the house and property to Francis Ederington, who began construction on most of the original house that stands today. Additions and alterations were made in the 1850s and 1860s by subsequent owners, but the most substantial and historically significant period of the house is associated with its early to middle 20th century owners, Raymond and Margaret Robins.

Work on restoring the home to the period of the Robins family began in December with the replacement of the foundation. Since then, the work has progressed to upper areas of the house that had suffered from decades of neglect when the manor house served as a conference and education center for USF. Two weeks ago, crews completed installation of new wood siding and window frames. Installation of a new roof will begin in two weeks, Anderberg said.

While restoration of the edifice is the primary goal behind the $1.5 million grant awarded last year by the Florida Legislature, it included about $200,000 for archaeological research of the property and its surroundings as well. Anderberg said that the effort led to the discovery of what is believed to be the foundation footings of Pearson's original log cabin, built in 1842.

Anderberg believes that the archaeological dig around the property could also help fill in some gaps in the facility's history as a plantation that once produced sugar cane using slave labor.

"We've already found quite a few artifacts, nails, some plates, lead shot, even a quarter dated 1878," she said. "It's very exciting to know there could be more waiting to be found."

One of the more remarkable things about the 3-D project is that unlike a static photograph, the image can be manipulated and added to over time, thus allowing viewers to have a comparable view of the home at various phases throughout its history. She envisions the project will also have a special attraction for tech-savvy young people.

"It's high technology that appeals to kids," she said. "Someday soon, people everywhere will be able to go on Google Earth and learn all about Chinsegut Hill. That's a great thing."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or

3-D video of Chinsegut Hill manor house provides new view of history 06/26/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2014 3:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater residents avoid tax rate increase for ninth year in row

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Residents will avoid a rate hike on their property taxes for the ninth year in a row as taxable values continue to recover from recession levels, padding city coffers.

    Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said the city must be prepared for unexpected expenses. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  2. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  3. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  4. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.