Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Old Palm Harbor Main Street group wants county to take back White Chapel

The White Chapel and Harbor Hall are popular for weddings.

Times (2002)

The White Chapel and Harbor Hall are popular for weddings.

PALM HARBOR — Old Palm Harbor Main Street is asking the county to take back the historic White Chapel, saying it can no longer maintain the 1924 structure at 1190 Georgia Ave.

"The White Chapel is an old building, and as far as I'm concerned, we're essentially being evicted by the termites. We decided that we could not be responsible for the structure anymore,'' said Ted Freidinger, the treasurer for the Main Street group.

The group's board voted June 18 to ask the county to take over responsibility for the landmark, officially known as the Reba Sutton White Chapel, and Harbor Hall next door, where wedding receptions and other events are held.

More than 10 years ago, the county agreed to let the Main Street group operate from the property virtually rent free, and in return, Main Street was responsible for maintaining the building.

Although the group did receive money from the special events held at the White Chapel, a popular wedding venue, the money was not enough to handle recent challenges.

"We voted to give it back to the county with the hopes that it will be managed by the good people in recreation at the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency,'' Freidinger said. "In Palm Harbor, they manage the parks and the community center, and they are the ones who really know what they are doing.''

The board also determined it was time to give up its paid staff, including director Debbie Thomas as well as event coordinator Janice Beiu, Freidinger said.

At least until Pinellas County determines how to move forward, Palm Harbor recreation director Erica Lynford has agreed to let her staff field inquiries about reservations and the needs of the White Chapel and Harbor Hall.

"We believe we have a responsibility to the community, and we were asked to help and that's what we'll do,'' she said.

The Main Street group has not yet officially notified the county of its decision to give up the lease, but it is simply a matter of time, Freidinger said.

"There have been several meetings, and the county, very responsibly, has said, 'Wait a minute, you need to treat those termites,' but we knew it was costly,'' he said.

When county real estate manager Dave DelMonte was asked about the possibility of the county getting the building back, he said he was aware there were struggles.

"It's difficult for many nonprofits,'' he said. "They are not alone.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at or (727) 445-4163.

Old Palm Harbor Main Street group wants county to take back White Chapel 06/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 11:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Largest Powerball jackpot won by single ticket in Massachusetts


    DES MOINES, Iowa - Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

    A Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Northbrook, Ill. Lottery officials said the grand prize for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million, the second -largest on record for any U.S. lottery game.
  2. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more


    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  3. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life



  4. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  5. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]