Indian Rocks Historical Museum to reopen Saturday

The Hula Hoops in the bathtub were a sign.

It was about 2010 when the Indian Rocks Historical Museum's burgeoning collection of local artifacts began to overflow the storage space of their 1939 cottage home on the eastern edge of Chic-a-Si Park.

"We were storing things in the attic, the closets," said Historical Society treasurer and archivist Nancy Ayers. "We even had things stored in the bathtub — Hula Hoops, folding tables, boxes of stuff."

Vice president and project manager Donna Valery laughs as she explains how their quest for "a little more storage space" led to an expansion and renovation that nearly doubled the size of original space.

"We've gone from being a little historical society to a museum," Valery said.

The expectations were simple, Valery said. Close the museum, add a little extra space and reopen within 30 days.

As the project grew in scope, so did the extent of the construction.

After being closed to the public for two years, the museum's grand reopening celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, timed to coincide with the founding of the city of Indian Rocks Beach in June 1955.

About 800 square feet have been added to the historic cottage, once a beachfront home donated to the city in the 1980s by the Moseley family. Two outdoor public restrooms were added at Chic-a-Si Park.

The project required the cottage to be raised to meet federal flood requirements. The addition was then built at the same level.

In January museum designers were hired by the historical society to renovate the exhibit space.

The results are dramatic. Huge photos of iconic Indian Rocks Beach landmarks, many long gone, bring the past to life.

The image of the Big Indian Rocks Pier freezes time in August 1985 a few weeks before the winds from Hurricane Elena blew the structure apart.

A sunburned boy poses with a huge tarpon hanging on a line, the long pier traveling deep into the center of the frame.

Those who remember walking barefoot on its hot slats of wood, will almost feel the hot sandy breeze.

An exhibit of old shipwreck items found by a local treasure hunter has been expanded.

A re-created 10-foot tiki god, "Kahuna" stands guard over the Tiki Gardens display just as it did in the 1960s. The popular garden attraction on Gulf Boulevard, patterned after the international market place in Honolulu, closed in 1990.

Building improvements to the museum cost the city about $300,000 and was funded mostly by Penny for Pinellas revenue, Ayers said.

The Indian Rocks Historical Society paid $20,000 for the architect and budgeted about $30,000 for the interior exhibit renovations.

Ayers estimated the exhibit cost may run a little over budget.

"But we are no longer storing items in the bathtub."

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Indian Rocks Historical Museum to reopen Saturday 06/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 21, 2013 5:19pm]

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