• A Message from the President
  • 2020-2021 VAHS Events Calendar
  • Update on Circus Train Car
  • Welcome to New Board Members and Officers
  • A Meeting for the Ages
  • Road Scholars Visit the Depot
  • What's the Future for VAHS?
  • Your Development Committee at Work
  • Betty Intagliata Lecture Series
  • Centennial 2021 Steering Committee Report
  • New Members
  • In Memoriam-Tom Deupree
  • Business Ads
  • Membership Application

A Message from the President

March 2020

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to you from the position of President of Venice Area Historical Society.  For many new members who may not know me, I hope to make your acquaintance soon.  For some of the old-time members, yes, I’m back.  This will be my third time around in the space of the last ten years.  To quote an old song title, “Everything Old Is New Again.”  In the past I’ve been introduced as the “recycled President,” and I consider it an honor to be asked to serve one more time.

It is with regret that my first announcement as your new President is that all activities of the Society have been cancelled for the rest of the season.  This includes the annual luncheon meeting, our lecture series, board meetings, some committee meetings, and all activity at the Depot.  These decisions were not made lightly, but your Board felt it was best for the protection of all. 

When the dust settles from the pandemic, we will begin to pick up the pieces of our lives and continue our work again within the Society. The Society has grown in stature from the early days when perhaps 30 folks gathered together for a little talk about some aspect of the history of Venice.  Now with a membership of over 200, a sophisticated lecture series, an active scholarship program, a Depot Campus staffed by members for free tours, and many other activities, VAHS can proudly take its place in a leadership role in Sarasota County.

There are two projects that I would like to see accomplished during the next year.  One is to make a fantastic showing in the online 2020 Giving Challenge.  This event occurs every other year and can be the source of additional funding for the Society.  More information can be found in the Development article below.  Remember to save the date: April 28 -29.

The second big event to happen this coming year will be the placement of the Circus Car on the Depot Campus.  With the hard work of many volunteers, financial contributions from many donors, and the interest of hundreds of community members, we hope to see a dream of many years realized.

Our organization can survive only with the continued support of its members and volunteers.  My hope is that we continue to grow in number, enthusiasm, and love of history.  As always, my message remains the same, “Come, celebrate history with us!”

Sue Chapman, President  

2020-2021 VAHS Events Calendar

*April 21, 2020. 7PM.  CANCELLED "Anti-Suffrage Versus Pro-Suffrage Male Arguments"

April 28-29, 2020.  Giving Challenge Online only! Noon-Noon.  Preserve Key Historic Assets at the Venice Train Depot.  Double Your Impact!  Donations Matched 1:1 $25-$100.  Click Here to Donate During the Challenge.

May 2, 2020.  Due to the closure of the Depot, VAHS will NOT be participating in Venice Museums Day.  Please check with Venice Museum & Archives for the status of this event.

*Fall 2020-Spring 2021 Betty Intagliata Lecture Series

Theme will be Local History (Laurel, Nokomis, Englewood, Venice and Sarasota) to celebrate 100 years since Sarasota became its own County in 2021.  Watch our website for dates and details as they become available.

*The Betty Intagliata Lecture Series is sponsored by the Venice Area Historical Society, with permanent funding provided by the Bill Jervey, Jr. Charitable Foundation.  All programs are FREE and OPEN to the public.  Programs are held at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice, 1971 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34292.  No reservations are necessary but seating is limited.  Please plan to arrive early.

Circus Train Car Update

Work is moving along steadily on the circus train car.  Jansen Insulation recently sprayed foam insulation in the ends of the car where the performers’ rooms will be on display.  They also applied a thermal barrier on the insulation; it shows up as a white coating in the picture on the right.  Royal Air Conditioning and Heating has installed some HVAC equipment in the car, and Uniglide staff are finalizing electrical wiring plans.  Workers from all three companies will continue to work together to complete the current phase of work.

Photos by George Miller 

Welcome to New Board Members and Officers

At the recent electronic Annual Meeting of Members (see “A Meeting for the Ages” below), Ed Gates, Betty Intagliata, George Miller, Barbara Smith, and Dave Taylor were elected to the Board of Directors for two-year terms.  They joined continuing Board members Carol Bailey, Sue Chapman, Brenda Holland, and Mike Murphy. 

Named officers for next year will be Sue Chapman (President), Betty Intagliata (Vice-President), Carol Bailey (Secretary), and Brenda Holland (Treasurer). 

Thank you to all for your service to VAHS!

A Meeting for the Ages

This year, despite restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the VAHS Board of Directors managed to fulfill a Bylaws directive to hold an Annual Meeting of Members.  Although plans had already been made to host almost 60 individuals at Pelican Pointe on March 25th for a luncheon, a presentation by Mayor Feinsod, a business meeting, and a stupendous raffle, a sharp pivot had to be made because of the spread of the disease.  Thank you, Ellie Paxton, for making all the arrangements at Pelican Pointe and then cancelling them just before the cancellation deadline!

The Board of Directors held a Special Meeting on Cancellations and Closures on Saturday, March 14th.  They decided at that time to hold a very brief Annual Meeting in the Freight Room on Thursday, March 19th, limiting the agenda to only essential items that could be addressed within a 15-minute time period.  However, in the hours following that meeting, disease conditions and restrictions worsened nationwide.

Within hours, Brenda Holland, VAHS Treasurer and Communications Committee Chair, managed to set up an electronic method of securing the votes of members who had planned to attend the Annual Meeting.  She, Mary Huba, and Clarke Pressly tested the system and fine-tuned the process on Sunday, March 15th.  On Monday morning, March 16th, President Pressly informed Board members that the electronic process would be implemented in lieu of the brief meeting they had set up only two days before.

Voting instructions were sent out during the afternoon of March 16th, and registrants responded with alacrity.  The requirements of the VAHS Bylaws were fulfilled within hours.  Thank you to our talented Board and our responsive members!  You know, it sometimes takes a village to follow your Bylaws, and that was definitely the case in 2020.

Road Scholars Visit the Depot

Once again, the prestigious international adult-education organization Road Scholar has included the Depot as part of its "Adventure on Two Wheels" program in Sarasota County.  During the first three months of this year, four groups of Road Scholars (about 80 individuals) arrived by bicycle at the Depot and enjoyed learning about Venice’s railroad history from Depot Docent George Miller.

Photo by VAHS Photographer Carol Marie Davis

What's the Future for VAHS?

What’s the future for VAHS?  The VAHS Board of Directors continually addresses this important question by engaging in Strategic Planning.  In the past eight years since developing its first Strategic Plan, VAHS has revised its plan several times.  Through that process, VAHS has been successful in raising its profile as a modern, professional nonprofit organization, and it has provided stable leadership during a major project that will preserve Venice’s circus history.

Anticipating the fruition of the Circus Train Car Project in the next year, the Board has once again asked, “What’s the future for VAHS?”  The Board has developed three major goals to pursue in the next three years.

First, VAHS must identify new members, volunteers, and leaders.  As VAHS members and leaders age, new energy is needed.  With a wide array of programs (Depot campus stewardship and tours, monthly lectures, speakers bureau, historic plaque program, programs for youth, college scholarships, historic preservation leadership, etc.), VAHS needs many more volunteers to keep these initiatives viable and fresh.  Importantly, leaders are needed to oversee the Society and keep it on a steady path.  The importance of this goal cannot be overstated.

Second, VAHS must develop the financial resources needed for stability and expansion.  VAHS proved its ability to raise and effectively manage substantial funds for the Circus Train Car Project, and it must also generate funding for its own functioning.  The Development Committee has been and will continue to provide leadership in this important area, and the Board calls on all VAHS members to support the Committee's efforts through general donations, Legacy Fund giving, fund-raising drives, and other means.

Third, VAHS must determine the number and types of initiatives it can support, given its human and financial resources.  Depending on its success in fulfilling the two previous goals, VAHS will be able to maintain or even expand its existing programming, or it will have to scale back. 

Please join your Board members in developing the necessary human and financial resources to ensure a bright future for VAHS!

Your Development Committee at Work

By Sue Chapman, Development Committee Chair

I would like to share two items of interest with you today.  The first is one that the Development Committee has worked on for several months.  We are happy to report that we now have a formal Development Plan with a policy and procedures to add to the Society’s organizational structure.  This may not seem important, but it greatly adds to the forward movement of VAHS.

The second item is to tell you a little bit about the GIVING CHALLENGE, which will occur for a 24-hour period on April 28 and 29 from noon to noon.  This program occurs every other year under the sponsorship of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with a helping hand from The Patterson Foundation. 

Here’s how it works: During the 24-hour period anyone can go online, type in Giving Challenge in the search bar, find Venice Area Historical Society in the list of nonprofits, and make a donation securely with a credit card.  The Patterson Foundation will match, dollar for dollar, up to $100 for each donation.  You, your family members, and your friends can all donate separately and receive the 1 to 1 match.  And here’s the most important part:  this is open to the public as well as our members.  Your job, if you choose to help, is to make your own donation and recruit as many other people as you can to do the same.  It’s like the old time call, “Everyone come and bring one, too!”

Please heed the call.  Come!  Celebrate history with us!  Save the date and join the Giving Challenge.

Betty Intagliata Lecture Series

L-R:  Bill Jervey, Program Sponsor; Betty Intagliata, Program Chair; Doris Weatherford, Speaker; Clarke Pressly, Former VAHS President; Tom Doherty, VAHS Volunteer.

Photo by Paul Intagliata

Doris Weatherford, author of They Dared to Dream, spoke to some 180 people on Tuesday, January 21.  Ms. Weatherford showed photos of famous suffragists from Florida who worked tirelessly to persuade the Florida legislature to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. When they saw they would not succeed, they went on to pursue a victory in Tennessee.  Tennessee was the 36th state needed to ratify the amendment, and ratification was won in August 1920.

L-R:  Bill Jervey, Program Sponsor; Betty Intagliata, Program Chair; Katherine Michelle Tanner and Emilia Sargent, Actresses; and Clarke Pressly, Former VAHS President.

Photo by VAHS Photographer Carol Marie Davis

On February 18, 150 individuals attended a program sponsored by the Venice Area Historical Society.  Two talented singer/actresses, Katherine Michelle Tanner and Emilia Sargent, presented a play written by Tanner, entitled "Nineteen."  The play presented the story of the American suffrage movement.

Centennial 2021 Update

The Centennial 2021 Steering Committee has a very active "Events Committee."  This committee, with the approval of the Steering Committee, plans to hold a kick-off celebration on January 9, 2021, at Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota.  It will be an all-day affair offering food, music, fun for children and adults, and even an appearance by John and Mable Ringling!  Stay tuned for more news, but for now, SAVE THE DATE OF JANUARY 9, 2021.

The Steering Committee would like members to ask their neighborhood or homeowners association to prepare a history of their neighborhood or association in a scrapbook format, with one copy to be donated to the County's local archives for posterity.

VAHS member Tom Bowers has joined the Centennial 2021 Steering Committee.  VAHS representative Betty Intagliata would love to see other VAHS members join this committee. For information, call Betty at (941) 484-0769.

VAHS Welcomes New Members

John D. (JD) Cooke

Maureen and Ronald Korte

Mike and Jan Mandt

Lucinda (Cindy) Smith

In Memoriam-Tom Deupree

October 22, 1940 - October 5, 2019

VAHS member Tom Deupree passed away on October 5, 2019.  Tom served VAHS in several ways--as a Depot Docent at the Venice Train Depot, as a Depot Committee member, and as a parking attendant for programs in the Betty Intagliata Lecture Series.  Tom was especially enthusiastic about the Circus Train Car Project, and he was instrumental in securing a grant supporting the project from his family’s foundation, the Deupree Family Foundation.  Tom’s contributions to VAHS are greatly appreciated and will be long remembered.

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Office: (941) 412-0151 • PO Box 995, Venice, FL 34284-0995