After Fire, Museum Raising Funds to Digitize Collection

On the morning of Labor Day Monday, September 3, the wooden Gulfport History Museum building survived a fire that investigators believe started on the porch near the hanging sign that is pictured.

A recent fire has ignited community interest in raising funds to digitize and safeguard portions of the collection at the Gulfport History Museum.

On the morning of Labor Day Monday, September 3, the all-wooden History Museum building that is about 100 years old caught fire. The fast action of the Gulfport, South Pasadena and St. Petersburg fire departments saved the structure and most of the contents.

The museum is maintained and operated by the non-profit Gulfport Historical Society.

“After the fire, we realize how important the digitization project is to the community and to preserving our history,” said Cathy Salustri, society president.

The building is owned by the city of Gulfport and is leased to the society, according to City Manager Jim O’Reilly. “The structure and its contents are covered by the city’s insurance policy,” he said. 

Salustri is working with Olive, a national vendor, on the museum’s digital preservation project. It’s the same company that is working with the Gulfport Library on their effort to digitize the collection of the Gabber newspaper.

About $30,000 will be needed to complete the museum’s project, said Salustri. As of September 17, just under $7,000 had been raised through donations.

Recently, the Gulfport Beach Bazaar held a fundraiser on Saturday, September 15. As a result, 25 percent of merchandise sales will be donated to the effort in the amount of about $450, said Gini Fagan, co-owner with her husband Mike.

“We believe in preserving history and thought the least we could do is donate a percentage of store sales during the third Saturday Art Walk because it’s a longer day. We figured donating store sales could include our patrons giving by their shopping,” she said.

Varied Donation Opportunities

On Friday, September 28, the society is hosting a free Fanning the Flames of History non-porch party and fundraiser from 7 to 9 p.m. on the lawn adjacent to the Gulfport History Museum at 5301 28th Ave. S. The porch and museum are currently closed due to restoration efforts.

The family and pet-friendly event will feature a campfire with s’mores kits and BBQ food for sale. Custom fire-themed t-shirts will be available for pre order and an on-site 50-50 raffle will also be offered. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn games.

Other efforts include Gulfport Reality raffling a 49-inch television, the proceeds of which will be donated toward the museum’s project, said Stacey Purcell, realtor and owner. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5 and are available at the office, 5416 Gulfport Blvd., during business hours. The drawing for the winner will be held during the Holiday Hoopla event on Saturday, December 8 at 5 p.m.

The non-profit Circle of Friends (COF) of the Gulfport Library group is also planning a fundraiser for the museum’s preservation project on Thursday, October 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the library, 5501 28th Ave. S.

There will be music, details about digitizing, fun and fundraising, said Susan Gore, COF co-chair.

To find out more about museum-related donation efforts and how to contribute online, visit

Digitizing Update

“There’s no reason we can’t start digitizing with the money we have,” said Salustri. “We’ll look for records that people might want that are not archived elsewhere. Those will be our first priorities.”


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