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Historical Village celebrates birthday

By Staff | Mar 29, 2013

PHOTO PROVIDED Celebrating in the Rutland dining room, from left, are Councilman Marty Harrity, docent Annette Cantalupo, Councilman Mick Denham, craft artists Cindy and Garry Walter, docent Sally Shelton, museum president Dorothy Donaldson, board member Bill Bachman, and volunteer Stephanie Rahe.

The Sanibel Historical Museum & Village celebrated the 100th birthday of Rutland House last week with a traditional cake and cookies along with some not-so-traditional activities.

City Councilmen Marty Harrity and Mick Denham were on hand for the cake cutting in Rutland’s dining room, joined by museum board members and volunteers. Cookies and lemonade followed the cake.

Part of the celebration featured Englewood crafters Garry and Cindy Walter, owners of Olde Tyme Arts and Crafts (“http://www.oldetymeartsandcrafts.com”>www.oldetymeartsandcrafts.com). The Walters were in Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room all day demonstrating their crafts for visitors. Garry sketches and is illustrating a children’s book called “Portal to Florida’s Past.”

Cindy specializes in recreating relics through older crafting methods from the 17th, 18th, and 19th


PHOTO PROVIDED Karl Rodman tended the Historical Museum’s Heritage Garden, explaining the purpose such gardens served and answering visitors’ questions.

“It’s a connection with history and a forgotten way of daily life,” Cindy said. “Each craft represents a skill that was needed for primitive housekeeping.”

Marya Repko was in the Old Schoolhouse discussing Sanibel history. Repko is the author of “A Brief History of Sanibel Island,” and “The Story of Sanibel Island: A History for Younger Readers.” Repko’s guests included people from the Estero, Bonita Springs and Everglades historical societies.

Museum board member Karl Rodman was working all morning in the Heritage Garden, showing visitors how Sanibel pioneers grew their own food.

Following Repko in the school were long-time museum docents Ted Hoesel and Hal Theiss. Hoesel spoke about his extensive vintage clothing collection, while Theiss spoke about Sanibel’s lighthouse keepers.

“It was a special and enjoyable day for visitors and for the village,” said board member Paula Newton, who dressed in period costume for the festivities. Newton planned and organized the day’s events.

PHOTO PROVIDED Docent Hal Theiss discussed Sanibel’s lighthouse keepers.

The Rutland House, built in 1913 in the typical “cracker” style, is made of hard Florida pine. The house originally stood on Periwinkle Way (where Periwinkle Park is now) on pilings made of concrete and beach sand. This protected the house from floods and allowed air to circulate.

Eleven-foot ceilings, a wide hallway and the placement of windows and doors opposite each other keep the house cool and are typical attributes of a cracker house.

“Uncle” Clarence Rutland, as he was known, came to the island with his parents in 1896 at the age of 6 and resided in the house from 1928 to shortly before his death in 1982.

Learn more about Rutland House and Sanibel’s history at the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village, 950 Dunlop Road. The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Full guided tours begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. Admission is $5 for 18 and older, Children and members are free.

For more information, call (239) 472-4648.