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Museum of the Islands

By Staff | May 6, 2015

The Museum of the Islands is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year. The museum was dedicated Sunday, Feb. 4, 1990, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

MOTI is an all-volunteer museum located next to the Pine Island Library. Its mission is the “preservation of ancient histories and the relatively recent histories of the people who were the early pioneers of Pine Island.”

“The museum is a great place to spend a few hours in the air conditioning learning about ‘Old Florida,'” museum president Vickie Duflo said. “Our summer hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“For the children, we have a scavenger hunt,” Duflo said. “Every child that comes in gets a scavenger hunt sheet and then they search for items around the museum and get a prize.”

The museum is filled with interesting photos, maps and displays. There are dozens of photographs of early Pine Island settlers, including the Padilla family – Frank and Helen, Walter and Mellie, Grandpa Tony and Grandma Lizzy, a family picnic on Cayo Costa and a wedding shot of bride and sailor groom. There are also pictures of the Howard family, the Hord family, the Burgess family, the Coxes and the Knights.

How many of these early families have descendants still on the island?

“Everyone, especially the children, enjoys the wildlife display,” Duflo said. “The display is a new addition and features some of the wildlife found on the island -from alligator snapping turtles, to alligators, to bobcats.”

There is a display showing the Sisal Hemp Factory and the Sisal Hotel of St. James City. Pictures of life in those days shows gentlemen in dark suits and hats gathering for a social time in front of the hotel, picnics by boat, men with long beards and women in long dresses, a St. James City boarding house, a passenger steamer and the Eighth Avenue fish house.

The mullet industry is well represented, with photos of fish camps, drying fish racks and the Mullet Main Street business. Mangoes and other fruits are shown being transported off the island in large horse-drawn wagons to be loaded on the barge before the Matlacha bridge was built.

In MOTI’s gift shop, you will find a good assortment of books relating to the history of Pine Island by local authors, a nice complement to the upright display.

MOTI is located at 5728 Sesame Drive, Bokeelia. For additional information, call 239-283-1525.