• A Message from the President
  • 2019 VAHS Events Calendar
  • Venice Museums Day
  • Scholarships Awarded
  • Circus Train Car Update
  • Circus Arena Miniature Unveiled
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Membership Dues Change
  • Defining Development 
  • VAHS Field Trip Extension of "Southwest Native American Programs"
  • "The Seminoles of Florida:  Past, Present, and Future"
  • "Rising Tides--Shifting Sands--Ancient Sites in Peril"
  • Venice Legacy Award
  • VAHS Welcomes New Members
  • Membership Application

A Message from the President

Dear VAHS members,

We concluded our spring season in May with a final board meeting before the summer break and a great lecture by John McCarthy, the Executive Director of Gulf Coast Heritage Association and Historic Spanish Point.  His address on how natural and human actions have adversely affected area Native Americans over time was enlightening, and you can read more about this in the following articles on our April and May programs.  In conjunction with that program was the informative field trip to the Calusa Heritage Trail museum on Pine Island organized by Betty and Paul Intagliata.

The May program evening included an annual event in which we recognized two of our Scholarship winners for this year.  Certificates and the scholarship award checks were presented to Venice High School graduating seniors Ronica Smith and Emily Porter.  See more about this recognition event, including the specific scholarships and information on the recipients later in this issue.

In addition to the above, May included our participation at the Depot in the Venice Museums Day celebration, a collaborative activity that also involved the Venice Museum and Archives and the Lord-Higel House, with special activities and free trolley service to all three locations. 

In mid-May at the Depot, we hosted a very special "unveiling" of the Circus Arena Miniature model, handcrafted by local artisan Bill Dovel.  This is a high-quality replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Arena that existed here in Venice for training performers and animals.  The model will eventually be installed as one of the displays in the new Circus Train Car that will become part of the Rollins Coakley Railroad Park.  See photos and more about the arena model later in this newsletter.

The month of May concluded with a notable occasion at Venice City Hall, when the Mayor and City Council presented this year's Legacy Award to the late Carolyn Redlin. Her fiancé Tom Doherty, VAHS representatives, and several Venice-area friends were pleased to receive the award on behalf of Carolyn's family.  She contributed to the community in so many ways to make Venice a special place in which to live.  We in the Society benefited from her tenure on the VAHS Board as President until she was compelled to resign in the beginning of her second term due to her serious health issues.  Working with Carolyn was a delight, and many of us found it hard to say "no" when she asked for our help with a special effort.

This summer, many of us are hoping to "catch our breath" a bit and work in the background on activities and projects for the coming year.  Of course, Betty Intagliata will be lining up the rest of our speakers and their topics for the new season's theme on "Women Get the Vote."   This new series on the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will shed light on many aspects of this significant event in American History. 

I extend my best wishes to all of our members and VAHS friends for a really great summer, whether it be here in the Venice area or "back home," wherever that may be.


Clarke Pressly, President


2019 VAHS Events Calendar

*September 17, 2019.  7 PM.  Part I Ken Burns film entitled--Not for Ourselves Alone:  The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony with commentary by VAHS.  The theme of the 2019-20 Lecture Series is "100 Years Since Women Got the Vote."  The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920.  We will kick off the series with a showing of this documentary which won a Peabody Award in 1999.

*September 19, 2019.  7 PM.  Part II Ken Burns film entitled--Not for Ourselves Alone:  The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony with commentary by VAHS.

*October 15, 2019.  7 PM.  Ida B. Wells:  African American Journalist and Suffragette as reenacted by Ursula Knox Odom.

*November 19, 2019.  7 PM.  Jeannette Rankin:  Helped Pass the 19th Amendment and First Woman to Serve in the U.S. Congress as re-enacted by Kate Holmes

December 3, 2019.  Member Christmas Luncheon.  Venice Yacht Club--Sunset Room. Save the date!

*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.

Venice Museums Day

Venice Museums Day, locally inaugurated in 2018, is the Venice area contribution to an annual celebration of museums around the world under the banner of International Museum Day. The City of Venice officially recognized the event with a Proclamation signed by Mayor John Holic.

VAHS was one of the three host organizations in Venice on Saturday, May 18, to participate in the City’s second annual Venice Museums Day. The Depot campus, the Lord-Higel House, and the Venice Museum and Archives were open to the public for a four-hour period on that day, and free trolley service was available, rotating among the three sites.

The event was made possible by volunteers from VAHS and Venice Heritage, as well as staff from the City of Venice.  

The event expenses, including the trolley, were covered under a grant provided by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Smiling faces on Venice Museums Day at the Depot                                                                                     with Docents, Chucko the Clown, free popcorn,                                                                                                 a scavenger hunt, and a free trolley

The activities were promoted as "family-oriented,"  and it was wonderful to see that the majority of the guests were young families.  The event was a marvelous opportunity to educate and entertain the younger ones. 

VAHS was very fortunate and delighted to have Chuck Sidlow (better known as “Chucko the Clown” of Ringling Bros. fame) roaming the campus and entertaining kids of all ages. 

With Depot Docent and VAHS member support, there was a popcorn machine, a scavenger hunt for the kids, and model train sets running in the Freight Room.  These trains, one from VAHS assets (supplemented by Ed Gates from his personal collection) and the other set provided by Ed for the event, entertained all.  The model trains were complemented by an exhibit provided by local railroading historian and model collector Ted Cover.  His first-class display and in-depth knowledge of rail operations was a big hit with young and old alike.  

The Museums Day activities allowed VAHS to showcase the first public viewing of the new Circus Arena Miniature, which was constructed by local master craftsman Bill Dovel.   This scale model is a meticulous reproduction of the former Venice Circus Arena built by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shortly after its arrival in Venice in 1960.  The Circus Arena Miniature will eventually be on permanent display at the Rollins Coakley Railroad Park campus in the Circus Train Car that is currently being restored.  More information on the Circus Train Car will appear in a later article.

Event Coordinator Ed Gates led the VAHS team effort, along with the support cast of twelve Depot Docents. This special activity could not have taken place without these Society members who so willingly offered their time and energy to the cause.  

                     Scholarships Awarded                                 





In harmony with its emphasis on education and community outreach, the Venice Area Historical Society annually awards scholarships to deserving graduating seniors at Venice High School:  The Betty Intagliata Scholarship, established 2011; The Sue Chapman Scholarship, established 2013; and The William Jervey Scholarship, established 2014. Tom Bowers, Chair of the Education Committee of the Venice Area Historical Society, presented awards to the 2019 scholarship winners at the May 21 Society lecture.  Congratulations, graduates!     


Circus Train Car Update

Shiny as a new penny!  As can be seen in the pictures, this phrase aptly describes the ends of the circus car after the final application of base paint and clear coat.  Painting of the sides is underway.  Kudos to Uniglide painters for a job well done!


Circus Arena Miniature Unveiled

On May 16, VAHS Board members and members of the Circus Car Interior Design Committee met in Waiting Room 1 at the Depot to unveil the circus arena miniature and to honor Bill Dovel, creator of the miniature. After an opportunity for all guests to examine the miniature and its many true-to-life features, Bill Dovel shared his reflections about the 18-month process of creating it.


Included in the guest list were circus greats Tito Gaona and Chucko the Clown (Chuck Sidlow), along with their wives Renata Gaona and Noriko Sidlow.  Orlando Bevington of the Venice Circus Arts Foundation and Harry Klinkhamer, Director of Historical Resources for the City of Venice, also attended.  All present joined in singing “Congratulations to Bill” and then enjoyed a piece of cake decorated with the words:            "Venice Circus Arena,                    Thanks, Bill"


(photos courtesy of George Miller)

Speakers Bureau

Knowledgeable Society members are available to provide a variety of presentations to community groups within the Venice area to educate, enlighten, and entertain.  Each presentation addresses some aspect of Venice area history.    Click here for a list of topics.  Donations are requested to defray costs. Contact us for more information.

Membership Dues Change

Last spring, a four-member task force met to review the VAHS dues structure; its recommendations were accepted by the Board of Directors and the general membership at the annual meeting held March 19.  There were two recommendations:  1) keep the present categories/levels:  Bronze, Business, Family, Gold, Individual, Silver, Nonprofit, Grandfathered Lifetime Memberships; and  2) increase dues in select levels as follows:

a.      Individual….....currently $30…..increase to $35

b.      Family………..currently $40…..increase to $45

c.      Nonprofit……..currently $25…..increase to $35

d.      Business……..currently $50…..increase to $75*

         *a business card image will be displayed in each issue of The Venice Express newsletter

These changes apply to the 2019-20 membership year and will be effective starting October 1, 2019.  Membership brochures with a new look reflect the revised rates and will be available at the end of September.  The website will also reflect the new rates shortly before the October 1 change date.    Members will be reminded via email when the 2019-20 renewals are slated to be sent.  If members receive a renewal notice for July, August, and much of September, they will pay the current/existing rates.  

The majority of our members still renew during October and November; but as our membership grows, a number of members have renewal dates for various other months.  These anniversary renewal months will not change.  Once our fall season starts, if members have questions they are encouraged to contact  Membership Chair Carol Bailey will also be available at the membership table to answer questions at the   special program held on September 17 at UUCOV,

Defining Development

  By Sue Chapman, Development Committee Chair 

As chair of the Development Committee, I am sometimes greeted with the comment, "Oh, you're the people who are always asking for money!"  And it's true!  One of the main jobs of the committee is to promote financial support for VAHS, not only in the immediate circumstances, but also to look ahead for sustaining funding to make sure that the Society will be able to continue to offer programs, education, and support for the historical aspect of Venice that makes it such a wonderful place to live.

The Development committee has also taken on other tasks than just the financial aspect, however.  We strive to promote VAHS in the community, we work to encourage new members, and we nurture all aspects of the Society.  We work closely with the Membership Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Financial Committee. So you see we "wear many hats."



You may see us at the farmers market.  You may see us encouraging you to support VAHS with a donation through Amazon Smile (see below).  We also promote the social aspect of the Society by having special events just for members. 

So, the next time that one of us asks you to buy a raffle ticket or to send a few extra  dollars beyond your membership dues or to support the  Giving Partner Campaign, please remember … it's just the Development Committee at work!

Thanks for your support,  



     Did you know that you can support VAHS

   by simply using this AmazonSmile Website?                                                                                       

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.  Click here or on the AmazonSmile logo on the left to support VAHS.

VAHS Field Trip Extension of "Southwest Native American Programs"

Betty and Paul Intagliata organized a VAHS field trip to the Calusa Heritage Trail at the Randell Research Center on Pine Island in Pineland, Florida, on May 8, 2019. Fifteen VAHS members and guests participated.  Lunch was at the Tarpon Lodge on the terrace overlooking the water. 

On the shaded porch at the center, Randell Research Center Coordinator Cindy Bear led a discussion about the Calusas and the Trail.  Participants then walked to see the tallest shell mound and ate berries from the "Strangulation FigTree."  They read signs along the trail and then returned to the shaded porch for  an after-discussion with Cindy. 

If any VAHS member wishes to go to the Randell Research Center (where the Calusa Heritage Trail can be found), contact Coordinator Cindy Bear at or call the office at: (239) 283-2062. Cost: Seniors $5(Photos courtesy of Carol Marie Davis)

"The Seminoles of Florida:  Past, Present, and Future"

On April 16 a Betty Intagliata Lecture Series program  addressed the “Past, Present and Future of the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida.” Presenter David Scheidecker, Research Coordinator at the Tribal Historic Preservation Office for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, spoke to 150 attendees about the ever-shrinking land that was once the Seminoles' domain in Florida.

Scheidecker explained that the 4000 Seminoles in Florida today are descendants of the 200 individuals who refused to be removed from their Florida home and placed in Oklahoma during the Seminole Wars of the 1800s. The Seminole Tribe today is one of the leading cattle producers in Florida.  It helps its people through revenues from its many casinos. For additional information, contact the AH-TAH-THI-KI Museum at its toll-free number: (877) 902-1113, or contact the Tribal Historic Preservation Office.

"Rising Tides--Shifting Sands--Ancient Sites in Peril"

Over 180 people attended the May 21, 2019, presentation of "Rising Tides--Shifting Sands--Ancient Sites in Peril" hosted by the Venice Area Historical Society as part of the Betty Intagliata Lecture Series.  John McCarthy, Executive Director of Historic Spanish Point, talked about the burial site discovered recently off the coast of Manasota Key (some 8000 years old).  He spoke about climate change and rising seas and had terrific visuals.


Venice Legacy Award


On May 28, 2019, the City of Venice presented the Venice Legacy Award to Carolyn Redlin in recognition of her contribution to the development of Venice.  Venice Legacy Awards are given to individuals or organizations in recognition of their contributions to historical preservation or significant historical impact in the Venice area.

Carolyn served as President of the Venice Area Historical Society and was instrumental in finalizing the purchase of the Ringling Circus Train Car, which is currently being restored. Once completed, it will then be gifted to Sarasota County for permanent display at the Historic Venice Train Depot. In the middle of her second term, health issues forced her to resign her presidency, and she passed away on February 27, 2018. 

VAHS Welcomes New Members

Barbara Hucksam

Elaine and Ron Jarchow

Marsha and Randy Ray

Click here for a printable version of this

application.  Note-rates effective 10/1/19.

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