Boca Grande Historical Society Annual President’s Report for 2021-22
History Center Accomplishments
The Boca Grande History Center Archives continues to add items to its vast collection of topics which includes over 2,500 accessible images in addition to artifacts which are stored in a climate-controlled environment. The Center also has created over 5, 000 topical subject files. Many of the subject files will eventually be transferred to the accessible data collection on the BGHS website and the remaining subject files can be viewed at the History Center. Together with the Data Collection Topical Notebooks, the archival collection has resulted in the Center becoming Boca Grande’s primary research historical facility. Continued donations of documents and artifacts including the Magna Carta Collection (documents relating to the commercial beginnings of Gasparilla Island) has led to an expanded collection of primary research sources and artifacts. In addition to the interactive topical screen monitors, visitors can view the following major exhibits: (a) Boca Grande: Once A Railroad and Industrial Town, (b) Boca Grande: The Black Experience, (c) Joseph Spadaro and the Boca Grande Hotel, and (d) The Magna Carta Collection. All of this, of course, would not be possible without the extraordinary volunteer contributions by Jim and Rose Marie Blaha of their time and talent. An increasing number of visitors to the History Center continue to share positive comments about their History Center experience. We love having visitors so definitely want to encourage you to stop by and see for yourself the very special place that awaits you.
Florida History Live
We continue to offer three interactive island history lessons each fall for the students at The Island School.
Let’s Talk About Florida
We offered four interactive book conversations on zoom organized by Pat Agles about Florida history as depicted in literature about Florida sponsored by the Fergeson Skipper Law Firm in Sarasota
- Florida by Lauren Groff
- Oranges by John McPhee
- Henry Bradley Plant, Gilded Age Dreams for Florida and the South, by Canter Brown, Jr.
- Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
- The Legend of Gasparilla Island presented by Crystal Diff, our new Executive Director, sponsored by Hazeltine Nurseries and the Shively Charitable Foundation.
- The Little Town that Unity Built presented by Martha Bireda, Director of the Blanchard House Museum of Black History and Culture in Punta Gorda, sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, the Shively Charitable Foundation, Hazeltine Nurseries and individual donors.
Hosted by Betsy Joiner and sponsored by Bank of America Private Bank and this season dedicated to the memory of island artist Patti Middleton – presenting up close and personal stories and recollections of island history.
- Stories of 25 years of island adventures presented by Janet Gillespie
- Island Memories presented by Doug and Frank Davis
- Life with Eleanore Aherne (Nothing that Champagne Can’t Cure!) presented by Kelly Parker Becton
- Joseph Spadaro, A Forgotten Citizen, and The Boca Grande Hotel presented by James Blaha, Trish Lowe and Peg Kapustiak
Then and Now PopUp Photo Exhibits
Highlighting unique aspects of island history by presenting historic and contemporary (courtesy of Rick Montgomery) photographs as curated by Jim and Rose Marie Blaha and Nancy Lyons.
- Opening of the historic Magna Carta Exhibit. We especially want to thank The Woman’s Club for the grant they gave us to purchase the specially designed Archival Display Case to hold and preserve these documents which are over 100 years old.
- Artists With a Sense of History – A first time collaboration with the Art Center showcasing paintings from the BGHS collection of work by historic island artists alongside works by the Art Center’s current members depicting and interpreting the same subjects as seen by them today.
- The launch of Historic Tales of Gasparilla Island a book by fourth generation islander David Futch sponsored by Italiano Insurance, Arcadia Publishing, and several members of the BGHS board.
Membership – Donations – Sponsorships
It is our pleasure to make Boca Grande history come alive through our many programs and exhibits, and we so appreciate all who support us through their coming into the History Center or attending our programs in person, by zoom or watching our recordings. And we especially thank those who have joined us as members (475 of you) or chosen to provide a donation or sponsorship. We look forward to another successful season in 2022-23 thanks to your support.
Pamela Heilman, President
Boca Grande Historical Society
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