Sunday, August 19, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg History Museum seeks long-term security

ST. PETERSBURG — At the city's repository of history, where handmade street maps find a home alongside tissue-wrapped quilts, black and white photographs and myriad artifacts of life past and present, St. Petersburg Museum of History officials worried about losing their prime waterfront spot.

With their lease expiring in 2013 — the very year the Pier faces demolition, to be followed by months of construction — museum leaders approached the city for an early renewal to lock in their choice site. Such an agreement is near, they believe.

But financial issues could stand in the way. A quarterly report from the city indicates the museum owes the city $37,427. While it costs only $1 a year to lease the waterfront property at 335 Second Ave. NE, the museum is supposed to reimburse the city for insurance. Those payments are three years behind, said Bruce Grimes, the city's director of real estate and property management.

The 90-year-old museum is among four tenants on a list of delinquent leases that was presented to the City Council's Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee last week. The museum "has experienced fiscal problems that its board is addressing," a note accompanying the report said, adding that its board had indicated it will ask to have the payment waived.

Council member Karl Nurse said he is sympathetic to the museum's plight.

"Frankly, they have done a pretty significant turnaround, and I think they were close to going under 18 months ago,'' he said.

"I understand they have paid off a lot of debts, ramped up their fundraising and their activities, so I would like to see if we could help them make it."

Joe Griner, vice president of the museum board, said it is no secret the facility has had "some pretty lean times," but praised former president Connie Kone and former trustee Wallie Guthrie Jr. for doing "a fantastic job of keeping the museum going."

"They left us in a position where we could move forward," Griner said.

"I think we have turned a big corner,'' volunteer executive director Joel Cohen said last week.

Specifically, he said, the museum has a revitalized board, with former state Rep. Bill Heller at its helm, and a past year during which membership increased by 40 percent, donations by 45 percent and visitors by 75 percent. The recent exhibit of competing Pier designs helped push the number of visitors up, he said.

The facility, which is trying to attract younger visitors, recently partnered with Great Explorations to host the Wonderful Wizard of Oz Touring Exhibit. A number of exhibits and events have been planned through to 2014, including a celebration this fall to mark the museum's 90th year.

Last week, Cohen showed off the facility's extensive archives, which museum officials hope to put online next year. He pointed to city directories dating back to 1950, paintings by St. Petersburg artist Mark Dixon Dodd and artifacts from the demolished Soreno Hotel. Parasols, dolls, baseball bats, toys, even an old-style hair dryer and a portable typewriter sit on second-floor shelves. There's a military drum from the Spanish-American War.

Downstairs, visitors can examine a two-headed calf or a 3,000-year-old mummy left behind in 1922 by a boat captain who couldn't afford the local port fees. The mummy was accepted as payment. Also on display is a replica of the single-engine biplane, the Benoist airboat, that Tony Jannus flew in the world's first scheduled commercial flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa.

As he walked through the building, Cohen spoke of the improvements made by last year's Leadership St. Petersburg Class, which adopted the museum as its project. Members of the class raised more than $42,000 in cash and in-kind donations, created a new courtyard, installed a new sign, upgraded the upstairs archives room and outfitted it with new computers.

Cohen, a third-generation Tampa native who moved to St. Petersburg a few years ago, is optimistic about the museum's prospects.

"I personally have a passion for history, and I think the history of St. Petersburg is so rich and needs to be preserved,'' he said. "I believe that we can make history interesting and fun and educational.''

Later this year, the museum plans to launch a capital campaign to continue its work. Next year, Cohen said, it will hire a paid executive director.

With the museum's new vitality, it's important that a lease be finalized for the spot it has occupied since 1922, Griner said.

"The area is perfect for our mission,'' he said of the site where not-too-distant neighbors include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Collection and Dalí.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments
Why wait? Time for Bucs fans to start missing Jameis Winston

Why wait? Time for Bucs fans to start missing Jameis Winston

NASHVILLE — Here in the land of love-sick country ballads where the dog dies, the pickup truck tires are slashed and somebody leaves a note on the way out of town, Bucs fans should already start missing Jameis Winston.Oh, he's not gone, gone, g...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Mixed bag for Bucs’ first teamers vs. Titans

Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Mixed bag for Bucs’ first teamers vs. Titans

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents while tuning in to the WFLA-Ch. 8 broadcast of Saturday night's Bucs-Titans preseason game.It's preseason. And it was just the second preseason game at that, so there's no reason to get too ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

NASHVILLE — Coach Dirk Koetter joked last week that the Bucs' offense consisted mostly of throwing to WR Mike Evans.All kidding aside, it's not a bad plan.Evans is the most reliable weapon among the Bucs' corps of target-rich receivers. He prov...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Red Sox game

OF Carlos Gomez's overall numbers don't look like much (.215, 8 HRs), but he continues to do so many little things to help on and off the field. Saturday, he made a heads-up play by moving up from second to an uncovered third base on an infield pop-u...
Updated: 4 hours ago
New Rays catcher Michael Perez worth wait

New Rays catcher Michael Perez worth wait

BOSTON — If rookie catcher Michael Perez turns out to be as good as Rays officials think based on their initial reviews, they may thank Steven Souza Jr.Well, not Souza directly.But it was in the process of extensively and intensively scouting A...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Tyler Glasnow settles down to pitch well in loss

Rays journal: Tyler Glasnow settles down to pitch well in loss

BOSTON — RHP Tyler Glasnow looked so bad as he struggled through a 28-pitch first inning of the Rays' 5-2 loss to Boston that he knew enough to not look out to the bullpen, which was in action.But after allowing four runs — on two doubles...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Epilogue: Tampa’s Mother Teresa, Delia Sanchez, remembered as child welfare champion

Delia P. Sanchez collected things — purses, shoes, newspapers. She hid them away in a storage unit, out of sight from her tidy husband. She had her reasons. And not one of them was selfish. The extra accessories? Those were for the mothers of...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

LARGO — A man faces a charge of murder after firing a shot at his girlfriend as she visited a travel trailer in Largo, fleeing the scene, then returning to the trailer and shooting her again a number of times, deputies said.Nathaniel J. Yates, 32, o...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs defensive line had good days against Titans, but not good enough if it aims to be great

Bucs defensive line had good days against Titans, but not good enough if it aims to be great

NASHVILLE — The Bucs' new and improved defensive line has Pro Bowl players, Super Bowl winners and some high draft picks. But right now, they're more famous individually than collectively.For two practices, that's also how they played against t...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Girl, 6, found slain in her Albuquerque-area home has connections to Wimauma

The family of a 6-year-old girl found dead in New Mexico last weekend is trying to bring her remains to Wimauma.Court documents say the body of Ariana "Jade" Romeo was found at her home in Rio Rancho north of Albuquerque on bloody sheets with marijua...
Updated: 9 hours ago