PUNTA GORDA — With several buckets of paint, along with rollers and brushes, a handful of volunteers got together Wednesday to help preserve a piece of Punta Gorda’s history — the Cigar Cottage at History Park.
“We were told the Cigar Cottage may not survive another rainy season without serious damage,” said TEAM President Nancy Johnson. “We were asked if there was anything that TEAM can do to help, and so we organized our volunteers on short notice and made it happen.”
The Cigar Cottage — now owned and operated by the Punta Gorda Historical Society — was built by the El Palmetto Cigar Company sometime in the 1890s for workers at their factory located on the corner of East Virginia Avenue and what is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
El Palmetto settled in Punta Gorda in 1891 and operated in the city until 1901. The cottages housed two families and did not have a kitchen.
The cottage was located on Brown Street before being moved to the Punta Gorda History Park, 501 Shreve St., in October 1999; it was the first historical building to be relocated to the park.
“It was obvious to us that if we did not tend to the repainting of the cottage that it would suffer severe damage with the upcoming rainy season,” said PGHS spokesperson Sandy Moon. “We very much appreciate the help from TEAM and the other volunteers and Alan Schulman for putting it all together.”
Moon went on to say that the cottage’s exterior wood had become bare from the sun and other weather damage.
“The new coat of paint is waterproof and mildew resistant,” she added, “so it will help preserve the wood into the future.”
PGHS, founded in 1983, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving history of Punta Gorda by saving historic buildings and other elements linked to the community’s past. They currently maintain several other historical buildings at the park and located within the city.
Moon said that while some of the other buildings need exterior work, the Cigar Cottage was most critical.
“We feel comfortable that we’ve secured the wood and it will stand the test of the time a little longer,” she said.
All the TEAM volunteers were happy to be able to help with the project.
“It’s really gratifying that we can be a part of preserving our little town’s history,” said Bill Welsch.
TEAM Punta Gorda is a volunteer organization dedicated to community improvement.
“People say volunteerism doesn’t work, but in Punta Gorda it does,” said TEAM member Richard Polk.