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Community House renovation expected to be completed in December

By Staff | Sep 21, 2016

The auditorium has undergone many improvements since the renovation project began in May. MEGHAN MCCOY

The completion of the Community House renovation has been pushed back a month with a tentative date sometime in December due to the heavy rainfalls.

Teresa Riska-Hall, Sanibel Community Association executive director, said they are playing catch up because the rain, unfortunately, began before all of the walls were erected, creating a condition that made it difficult to progress at the same speed.

“We weren’t done before the rain. It put us a little behind,” she said, adding that the project is coming along.

Another setback occurred after it was discovered that the roofing needed to be redone, which resulted in removing the air condition units until it was finished. Riska-Hall said the units had to be placed on higher stands, providing walkway areas on the roof for the first time.

A great deal of progress has been made since the house closed in early May transforming the 9,215 square feet of existing space, with a little more than 3,000 square feet of new space. Once The Community House is completed there will be 12,220 square feet of air conditioned space and 1,300 square feet of a covered porch, totally 13,520 square feet.

A slew of crew members have been working diligently on The Community House for its tentative December opening. MEGHAN MCCOY

Some additions, such as a brand new state-of-the-art kitchen complete with a bar area and a bathroom, a new conference room and a larger lobby, are well underway. A few of the improvements under construction include larger bathrooms with handicap stalls, more natural light in the historic North Room due to the original windows being uncovered and a more open feel from the auditorium to the middle room.

The audio, video, internet, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are also being updated to become more efficient and effective in today’s time.

The house now has two covered entrances on the east and west side that are similar in appearance. The main entrance, which is now covered with a walkway with seating to the left, flows into a much larger lobby that is capable of holding a small reception.

Riska-Hall said every room of the house now opens into the lobby.

In addition to the main portion of the house, the Shell Shed and Live Shell Exhibit buildings were moved to the back portion of The Community House property. Riska-Hall said although it was an extra cost to move the Live Shell Exhibit building, it was important to them because they wanted to make sure The Sanibel School students were still apart of the annual Shell Festival.

The renovation project included reopening the windows in the historic North Room. MEGHAN MCCOY

An open house is tentatively scheduled in January to showcase the improved Community House.

The Sanibel Community Association is still raising funds for The Community House, providing individuals with the opportunity to leave a lasting imprint on the historic house. Riska-Hall said for every $1,000 donated individuals can have their name engraved on a piece of wood that will be placed along the top portion of the meeting rooms. She said individuals have either wrote in honor of someone, or used their family name.

With the new space, resumes are now being accepted for three positions, two of which are new. The new positions include operations manager and resident chef and the existing position is facilities/setup coordinator. The complete job descriptions can be found at www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net.

Curtis Appleton Perry, who was the brainchild of the Sanibel Community Association, visited every home on the island to begin the project of building the Community House. Sam Woodring provided money, and Frank Bailey organized various materials for the building. Cordelia Nutt donated the land for the project and construction began in 1927, the same year it opened for business.

In 1967 the first major addition was added, the middle room, and in October 1979 the main hall was boosted to accommodate 500 visitors.

Shell Shed and the Live Shell Exhibit buildings have been moved to the back of The Community House’s property. MEGHAN MCCOY

The new entrance of The Community House, which includes a sitting area to the left of the entrance, no longer has steps to enter the house. MEGHAN MCCOY