Gulfport Historical Society Needs Your Opinion

The exterior of Caron Schwartz’s home on Delette Avenue South. Like other houses in Gulfport built by Alvah Roebuck of Sears, Roebuck and Company fame, this one has a bell (top right). Schwartz would like to get a historic designation for her house.

The Gulfport Historical Society is asking anyone interested in historic Gulfport to fill out a survey describing what they’d like to see preserved.

Cathy Salustri, chair of the historical society, said the idea arose after eight or nine residents asked about giving their homes and other structures a historic designation and wondered why the city didn’t have a preservation program. The survey is a way of determining whether there is enough interest to start one.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s important for people who care about Gulfport,” Salustri said.

The survey was emailed directly to some 3,000 people who already receive the city of Gulfport’s weekly email updates, but anyone can fill it out. It asks such questions as what respondents love best about Gulfport, what they don’t like or wish would change, and what one thing they would want the Gulfport Historical Society to preserve.

If there’s enough interest, the Historical Society will work with such groups as the National Register of Historic Places and St. Petersburg Preservation to develop general criteria, but actual selections will be determined by what local places are important to Gulfportians.

“For the Gulfport register we would have a little more flexibility,” she said, adding, for example, that someone might want to give Gordon the Goat’s first home a historic designation even though that type of place might not qualify elsewhere.

One Gulfport resident interested in having her home designated historic is Caron Schwartz, who owns a house on Delette Avenue South constructed by Alvah Roebuck of Sears, Roebuck and Company fame. The house, built in 1932, has unusual pecky cypress paneling, red tile floors, a fireplace and a roof-top bell. It’s one of a number of so-called Roebuck houses in the city.

“They’re all completely unique,” said Schwartz.

She wants to have it designated historic because “there are so few of [these houses] and because they are one of a kind,” she said. “And they’re beautiful and they’re built to last.”

Michael Taylor, principal planner in the city of Gulfport’s Community Development Department, said the Historical Society’s effort was a good place to start.

“Recently nothing has been done for historical preservation,” he said Wednesday, August 30. “It’s good that a group like the Historical Society can get involved and see where this can go.”

Taylor said the city’s current historic preservation ordinance requires 100 percent support from a building’s owner before it can be designated historic.

“That can possibly be difficult to achieve,” he said.

A committee worked for a while on trying to streamline the ordinance, but it was disbanded a number of years ago, he said.

The online survey can be accessed at Residents and non residents are welcome to give their opinion. The questionnaire will be online for a total of a week, with the cut-off being Sunday, September 3 at 1:30 p.m.



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