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The heat is on: Military Museum pressed to raise $65K to replace A/C

By Staff | Aug 29, 2019

The largest military museum in Southwest Florida is in a bit of a hot-spot after its air conditioning unit failed on them.

The Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library, home to countless armed services memorabilia, relics and timeless history, is hoping to raise money to have a fully functioning unit installed to preserve the memories of the men and women who served.

The building, which is powered by three separate units on the roof, saw the third and last unit go kaput, leaving the museum without any relief for five days in the brutal August heat.

Thanks to three A/C companies in the area, they got one of the “make-shift” units to work, but vice president of the museum, Judy Petrulavage, said they would like to have operational units without the dark cloud of another failure over their heads, though she is extremely gracious to the community and companies that have stepped up to the plate so far. They have raised $6,000, give or take, that has all gone to the unit just given a massive Band-Aid.

“By the grace of God, we got the word out to the community,” Petrulavage said. “We were down for five days with no way to repair the unit.

“The community has been wonderful. We have our make-shift A.C. and we have our fingers crossed that it will continue to work.”

Petrulavage said it will cost roughly $65,000 to have new units installed above the museum, and that it is critical to the preservation of the facility’s contents.

“The uniforms alone, a lot of them are made of wool and when they get moisture, they start to rot,” Petrulavage said. “Artifacts with motors or anything made before stainless steel was used could start to rust. The air conditioning is paramount. We worry about every single piece of history here. And honestly, it’s not good for our employees to be working here all day in these conditions.”

Petrulavage said the museum is going to hold events in the near future to help raise money to get new units for the building.

“It’s been amazing the support for the community so far,” Petrulavage said of the money and time that has already been donated to the museum for the air conditioning. “We were very blessed to have some relief so fast and we are thankful three-fold to all that have helped.”

The museum hopes that generosity will continue.

Florida is home to the third highest veteran population in the United States, and Cape Coral’s military museum is rich with history and walls that will tell tales of yesterday.

The Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library is free and open to the public. It was started by the Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation to honor the men and women of the military and to preserve military related artifacts.

Stepping into the museum is like stepping into a time machine. Relics of past battles, uniforms, flags, and depictions of war time canvas the facility.

The museum features a Purple Heart Exhibit, highlighting Florida’s 360 Purple Heart recipients who were killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.

Other exhibits accentuate the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

To donate, visit the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library’s Facebook page.

The museum also is taking donations in person or via mail at 4820 Leonard St.

For more information, visit swflmm.org .

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj