Cape museum’s new wing opens
The building smells like it was freshly painted, the carpet looks as if was just laid.
The newest building at the Cape Coral Historical Museum — dubbed the Clint and Sue Kelly Building — got a ceremonial opening Thursday afternoon in front of a crowd of 50 or more onlookers.
The new building houses a vast collection of rare Native American artifacts, unique shells from Sanibel and a pictorial history of the city public works departments.
The Native American artifacts and shells are all from Clint Kelly’s personal collection, something he and his wife, Sue, worked on together since the late 1930s.
“We had all these relics we brought with us when we moved to Florida,” he told the crowd. “We had more than we could handle.”
Kelly prompted Fred and Anne Cull about the possibility of donating the large collection, but the museum simply did not have the room.
Instead, Kelly asked the Culls if he could go in a different direction: build a brand new structure on the museum grounds, to which he would make a sizeable donation to get the project started.
“Once Clint made his contribution, we were able to parlay more donations,” Fred Cull said.
The artifacts are arranged in one section of the new building along with a detailed artist’s rendered timeline of Seminole and Calusa history in Florida.
Sharing the room are the impressive amount of shells collected from the shores of Sanibel, something Clint and Sue began in the late 1940s.
Kelly’s niece, Kay Cooke, who was visiting from Illinois for the occasion, said the new building is a tribute to her aunt Sue, who died in 1999.
“It’s a testament to their relationship,” Cooke said. “It’s a history of so many years, a culmination … they did everything together.”
Dick Cooke, Kelly’s nephew and Kay’s husband, agreed.
“I can’t imagine the feeling he has in his heart right now,” he said. “He did it more for Susie, they collected for so long.”
This “love letter” to his late wife comes at a distinct if not undisclosed price tag for Kelly, 94.
It also cements his legacy in Cape Coral lore, the “brief but rich history” to which the Cape Historical Society has been dedicated to for just over 30 years.
Cull said the community needed another building, and without Kelly it would not have become a reality
“The need was there. The next thing was the vision, but the vision needs to be a reality,” he said. “History never stops coming.”