Historical Museum and Village debuts children’s room
The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village tell the story of the island’s history, from the Calusa and Spanish eras to early pioneer families who settled on Sanibel in the 1800s. There are seven historical buildings, which are all listed on the City of Sanibel’s Historical Register. They were moved from their original island sites and rebuilt by a group of volunteers known as the “hammerheads.”
The Rutland House is a pioneer home with furnishings from the early 1900s and was the first building moved to the current village site in 1984. The Bailey’s General store was originally situated on the wharf in San Carlos Bay making it the center of activity for islanders. If it wasn’t at Bailey’s General Store, you didn’t need it.
The 1926 Post Office was rebuilt on San Carlos Bay by debris found following the 1926 hurricane that washed away Post Master Will Reed’s home. His front porch originally served as the post office until the 1926 hurricane washed it away. It now stands proudly in the village complete with a mail drop and Old Glory flying out front.
The old Sanibel Schoolhouse is a classic one-room schoolhouse with its original bell. The building has a platform up front where different grade levels received lessons from the teacher and a wood stove was situated in the center of the room. Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room was built for use as a gas station, brief service as a store and has been restored to its 1930s look.
A replica of the Sanibel Packing House circa 1900s was designed from remnants recently uncovered. After tidal surges washed over the island during several hurricanes, the soil was rendered useless for large-scale farming.
In the Morning Glories Cottage, there has been a recent change. A bedroom in the Sears & Roebuck prefabricated home was used to showcase the stories of early fishermen. It has been reincarnated into a child’s room occupied by cloth dolls, early 20s to 40s children’s clothing, a dollhouse for children to play with and a china cabinet filled with tea sets.
“It made more sense,” said Mary McLaughlin, the archivist at Sanibel Museum and Village. “We’ve had all this stuff in storage and it was time to bring it out.”
The Burnap Cottage is now the fishing cottage. It was originally a two-room bay front fishing camp built in 1898. It is the oldest building in the village and some say a ghost haunts it.
The Morning Glories Cottage cost $2,211 and arrived in 30,000 pieces on a flat bed truck aboard a barge in 1925 after Martin Mayer ordered it delivered. Its original location was on San Carlos Bay until it was donated to the village a few years ago.
A group of volunteers labored for nearly a year to restore the house to its present condition. The warm, cozy atmosphere is still inviting to present-day visitors. It represents a typical winter home on Sanibel Island in the 1920s and 1930s.
Each building in the historical village recounts the lives of Sanibel’s early settlers through the unique displays depicting life on the islands as experienced by the pioneer families. Volunteer docents share tales of the warriors, adventurers, fishermen, farmers and proprietors who shaped Sanibel’s history with nearly 10,000 island visitors each year.