Island landmark holding membership drive in November
It is a familiar sight to anyone traveling down Periwinkle Way on Sanibel. The quaint cottage-style structure of The Community House has been the focal point for island social and civic activities since it was built in 1927. Its mission has been to enrich community spirit through educational, cultural and social gatherings at the historic facility.
After the island’s first Community Fair was successfully held in 1925 and again in 1926, the men of the community decided to build a structure to house the annual event, according to records. The goal of Curtis Perry, organizer of the Community Association, was to form an entity that catered to the “social, literary, civic, scientific, and philanthropic” needs of the community.
A true “community project,” The Community House was created from early islanders donating the land, building materials and labor. Miss Cordie Nutt, one of the original residents, provided the land, and Perry sought funds from everybody by literally walking from one end of the island to the other. Sam Woodring made a $200 donation and later became the Community Association’s first president.
The Community House was the birthplace of nearly every club and organization, including BIG ARTS, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Island Seniors, Sanibel Captiva Lions Club, Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society and several churches, plus other fraternal and social functions, like the “first community wide Shell Fair.” It served as a public library, voter facilities, and medical screenings and inoculations, as well as housed city council meetings and city events.
“This facility has served as the historical heart of the islands and given the community many years of service,” Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall said.
In 2017, The Community House underwent an upgrade thanks to the generosity of islanders and friends. Always, the facility has served as the community’s principle gathering place for large events and the site of much island history. Currently, 104 organizations hold activities at The Community House, and more than 100,000 people visited the facility between July 1, 2018, and June 30.
“Our membership drive in November is a sustainable opportunity to give to The Community House, while participating in classes, lectures, art viewing, culinary classes, events and more,” Riska-Hall said. “When you give to the Community House, you are really giving back to the 104 local organizations and their members who utilize the house.”
The facility is owned and operated by the Sanibel Community Association, a non-profit organization. Its operating funds come from public contributions, memberships dues and user fees; it receives no government funding.
“The community has been very generous in the past and we hope we can count on everyone’s support again this year,” Riska-Hall said.
For more information, visit www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net or call 239-472-2155.
The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.