Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Bronze figures at Dunedin Historical Museum are a nod to past, future

DUNEDIN — Once upon a time, when cars were few and trains were plenty, this city's Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Station bustled with passengers heading to St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs and beyond.

Today, the Dunedin Historical Museum is housed inside the former train depot, which operated from 1924 to the 1960s.

Paying homage to that legacy, the museum has erected three life-sized bronze statues. Frozen in a scene that likely played out countless times in the station's earliest days, a woman and her young daughter in 1920s garb rush past the depot toward a waiting train.

"All aboard!" a conductor, his hand raised to his mustached mouth, seems to call out — invoking the public art display's name.

The statues, which stand on Main Street outside what will eventually become the expanding historical museum's new entrance and on the cusp of the former railway-turned-Pinellas Trail, were sculpted by New York artist Randolph Rose.

The $60,000 project was researched and completely underwritten by longtime museum volunteer and board member Melba Rilott.

Museum director Vinnie Luisi said the statutes are a perfect example of the city's ongoing collaboration of art and history on projects like artistic bicycle racks, such as one near the Pinellas Trail that's shaped like a train.

"Dunedin is so culturally involved, and we finally have public art in the center of downtown," Luisi said. "It's a natural photographic tourist site."

It was also a long time in the making.

Luisi said he and Rilott first discussed the project 10 years ago but abandoned the idea after receiving a quote that was double the final price.

But Rilott, a self-proclaimed lover of history, wouldn't be defeated. She always kept her eyes open, studying statue details while traveling overseas. As the project revived, she traveled the county researching period clothing and hairstyles for women, children and conductors in 1924, when Dunedin's depot opened.

During the unveiling last month, Rilott cut the ceremonial ribbon with a pair of Victorian-age scissors.

"I am happy that I can donate," said Rilott, 76, of Palm Harbor, who has worked with the museum since the 1970s. "I like history, I like what's happening with Dunedin, I like what's happening with the Dunedin Historical Museum and I want to be part of it. …This is like a dream that came true."

Luisi said the statues are intended as the focal point of a building addition that will house the museum's new Main Street entrance, gift shop and visitor center. Officials expect it will lead to a 35 to 45 percent increase in foot traffic among passers-by, higher-quality exhibits, accreditation and ultimately increased eligibility for grants and self-sustainability.

Last year the city pledged $200,000 toward the expansion, which will include a redesign of all museum exhibit space. Luisi said the museum so far has raised two-thirds of its match while it awaits zoning information from the city.

The original structure, Luisi said, will not be affected.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

 
Comments
Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

Dow bursts through 26,000 in record seven trading days

The Dow Jones industrial average blew past 26,000 Tuesday for the first time ever, coming only a week after hitting 25,000 and showing further evidence that the long-running bull market is alive and well."There are several reasons for markets to melt...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Panic ensued after casino shuttle caught fire, survivor recalls

Panic ensued after casino shuttle caught fire, survivor recalls

By HOWARD ALTMANTimes Staff WriterPORT RICHEY —Before directing them to abandon the burning ship, the crew of The Island Lady casino shuttle moved passengers around the 72-foot wood-hulled vessel as fire began smouldering on both sides, one passenger...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida love triangle led to a murder-for-hire plot, police say. But the wrong woman was killed.

Florida love triangle led to a murder-for-hire plot, police say. But the wrong woman was killed.

Heartbreak and jealously were the twin engines driving the scheme, police would later say. Ishnar Marie Lopez-Ramos was in love. The object of the 35-year-old Floridian’s affection, however, was tangled up with another woman. To solve her hear...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando County wants taxpayer grant recipients to show their math

Hernando County wants taxpayer grant recipients to show their math

by barbara behrendtTimes Staff WriterBROOKSVILLE — Hernando County has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years on taxpayer-funded grants to outside agencies and organizations, including $396,000 for the current year.Those dollars have ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Arizona-based AFI Mortgage opens St. Petersburg branch

Arizona-based AFI Mortgage opens St. Petersburg branch

Times StaffAFI Mortgage, a subsidiary of an Arizona-based bank, is opening its first Florida locations in St. Petersburg and Lakeland. Its parent company, AmeriFirst Financial Inc., specializes in mortgages. "This Florida team is innovative, knowledg...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, you need a boat to get to Shell Key again

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, you need a boat to get to Shell Key again

By CRAIG PITTMANTimes Staff WriterAT THE SHELL KEY PRESERVE — From a boat puttering along in the water, the sandy beach seems to go on and on. Then, abruptly, it ends at a mass of tangled, overturned mangroves where a great blue heron sits on an expo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTINTimes Senior CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Still more apartments are coming to St. Petersburg, this time to the Edge and Grand Central Districts just west of downtown.The new projects, all by out-of-state developers, will add mo...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pope begs forgiveness for ‘irreparable harm’ from sex abuse

Pope begs forgiveness for ‘irreparable harm’ from sex abuse

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the "irreparable damage" done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Chur...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Some fear Spa Beach billowing net sculpture could catch birds and storms

Some fear Spa Beach billowing net sculpture could catch birds and storms

By WAVENEY ANN MOORETimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — International artist Janet Echelman may have fulfilled her $75,000 feasibility contract with the city and previewed her billowing, parasol-inspired sculpture for Spa Beach, but for some, key ques...
Updated: 3 hours ago