• A Message from the President
  • Giving Challenge 2022--Results
  • Gulf Coast Community Foundation Grants
  • The Depot Reopens!
  • Circus Train Car Update
  • VAHS Announces Scholarship Winners
  • Historic Preservation Committee
  • Photos from April, May, and June Lectures
  • Thank you, Venice Aerial Photography
  • In Memory of Evelyn Nelson
  • In Memory of Devon Grady Hough, Jr.
  • In Memory of Paul Scarpellini
  • Welcome to Our Newest Members
  • Support VAHS Business Members
  • Membership Application

A Message from the President 

July 2022

We enter summer with lots to update you on. 

The Train Depot has reopened after two years, and our circus car is now open for the first time for tours. (The Depot is open only on Saturdays and the circus car on most Saturdays.  Check the calendar on the website before visiting.)  I am humbled by the dedication and hard work by so many VAHS members to prepare and preserve these historic assets. I encourage all of you to stop by the depot campus and say hi to the volunteers who are there to bring the stories of these resources to life for visitors. 

On another front, the Board of Directors held a special meeting in June to authorize the President to present to the Venice City Council a position statement concerning the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) currently pending before Council. As you may be aware, the LDRs dramatically change the way the city deals with, among other things, preservation of historic properties. A copy of the statement is below.

This continues a fine tradition of VAHS in advocacy on historical matters. Many of you already know the name on our charter: "Venice Historic Preservation League."  We have adopted the d/b/a (doing business as) of the Venice Area Historic Society to reflect a wider horizon than just preservation. Nonetheless, preservation of our community's historic resources remains a top priority of the organization.

If you share the concerns in our position statement, or if you have other concerns, you should consider making them known to Council. You can find names and addresses at this website:


Frank Wright, President

“Come!  Celebrate history with us!”

Venice Area Historical Society


June 13, 2022

Mayor R. Feinsod and Members of the Venice City Council

City Hall

Venice, Florida 34285

Dear Mayor Feinsod and Members of the Venice City Council,

We are writing today on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Venice Area Historical Society (VAHS) to provide input on the Land Development Regulations.  Since 1991, two goals of the Venice Area Historical Society have been “to create a public awareness of the historical heritage of the Venice area,” and “to develop an appreciation of the history and historic sites of the Venice area and promote historic preservation.”

During the past 31 years, VAHS has addressed these goals by:

  • supporting the restoration and preservation of historical buildings in Venice such as the 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot
  • supporting the creation of the Gunther Gebel-Williams statue at the Depot
  • supporting the Lord-Higel House project through donations over the years to the Lord House Restoration fund, the cost of a new roof, the thermometer sign in Centennial Park, pest control at the site for a number of years, and other cash donations
  • financially supporting the Old Betsy project and the Fred Albee Exhibit at the Venice Museum
  • creating educational exhibits about Venice’s general history and railroad history in the waiting rooms of the Train Depot
  • providing tours of the Train Depot to over 40,000 visitors
  • placing informative plaques on deserving historic buildings in Venice, with the financial support of the Erhart Family Foundation
  • providing free monthly lectures to the public about Venice and Florida history
  • providing a cadre of speakers about Venice history for local organizations
  • restoring a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus train car and placing it on the Depot campus
  • creating a museum in the circus train car celebrating Venice’s circus history and circus legacy.

From our experience, we can testify that Venice’s special history has great appeal to the public.  The City’s unique, attractive, and historic built-environment lures visitors to our community, enticing them to make Venice their home. 

As you revise Venice’s Land Development Regulations, the members of the VAHS Board of Directors urge you to:

  • Keep the height of downtown buildings at 35 feet
  • Keep the Historic Preservation Board separate from the Architectural Review Board
  • Retain the ability to designate local historic districts in the future, such as Edgewood, a unique historic district that was included in the John Nolen Plan of Venice
  • Ensure that Venice becomes a Certified Local Government.

Respectfully submitted,

Franklin Wright, President                      

Betty Intagliata, Chair, VAHS Historic Preservation Committee

Giving Challenge 2022 Results

Due to the generosity of our donors, we raised $9,125 during the 24-hour Giving Challenge including a $2,000 matching donation from former President Sue Chapman.  The Patterson Foundation match will bring that total to over $16,000!  Thanks to all our donors.

VAHS participated in the pop-up station at the Venice Performing Arts Center.  Donors showed up in person for some entertainment, coffee and treats, and assistance with making a donation.

L-R:  Frank Wright, Carol Bailey, Brenda Holland

Photo by Kristen Bailey 

Gulf Coast Community Foundation Grants

Thank you to the GCCF for two grants totaling $9,775.  The purpose of these grants is to allow VAHS to maintain the Depot Campus as an educational tourist destination.

The Depot Reopens!

After being closed for more than two years, the Depot is now open again!  It was initially closed for more than a year and a half due to COVID-19.  Then, Sarasota County began a long series of repairs to the Depot structure that forced closure of the two waiting rooms for an additional nine months.  Exhibits on the walls had to be removed, and exhibits on the floor were dismantled and/or periodically moved around. 

Finally, the time came to set up all the exhibits again, and a thorough cleaning of all items, floors, and windows was required due to the prolonged closure and the dirt and dust of repairs.  Enter the stalwart cleaning crew of docents Tom Bowers, Ed Gates, Jim Middleton, George Miller, CeCe O’Connor, and Dave Taylor!  The pictures show this group working for hours on the clean-up on April 14; then on June 3, Ed, George, CeCe, and Dave returned for another session.

Three cheers for these dedicated docents!  Thanks to them, the waiting rooms are sparkling and ready for viewing.  Until November 1, the Depot will be open on the summer schedule of Saturdays, 10 am to 1 pm.

Photos by Mary Huba

Circus Car Update

The circus car was open for the first time to the public on June 12!  This was part of VAHS’s plan to pursue a “soft” opening with limited publicity that will extend throughout the summer.  The car will be open on most Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm until November 1.  (Check the calendar on before you go.) 

The nine visitors on June 12 appeared uniformly interested and impressed.  Some liked to look at pictures.  Others also read the text.  Most enjoyed sharing their own memories of the circus!

The central exhibit area of the car has been completed, but the performers’ rooms, particularly the clown rooms, are still under construction.  Progress in these areas will take place as time allows. 

Because space inside the car is limited, the local fire marshal restricts occupancy to 25.  However, preliminary gatherings have shown that only about 15 people can be comfortably accommodated at one time.  A soft opening that extends throughout the summer will provide an opportunity to observe when visitors arrive, how long they stay, and how they spend their time.  Later in the year when the snowbirds return, it may be necessary to issue passes for specific entry times. 

Docents will also be needed to staff the car, and their role will be primarily that of greeter rather than tour guide.  The exhibits have been designed to be self-guiding, but docents will want to learn about the stories portrayed in the exhibits so that they can answer questions.  Can you picture yourself welcoming visitors to the car?  If so, contact VAHS at

We are excited that this day has finally arrived!

Photos by George Miller

Scholarship Winners

The 2022 scholarship winners were introduced by VAHS member Tom Bowers (center) at the VAHS lecture on May 17. 

William L. Harless (left) is the recipient of the Dr. William Jervey Scholarship.  Katharine Visner (right) is the recipient of the Sue Chapman Scholarship.  

Congratulations to these very deserving students and to Sue Chapman and Dr. Jervey who make these scholarships possible! 

Photo by Kristen Bailey

Historic Preservation Committee

VAHS’s Historic Preservation Committee is looking for additional members.  If you are interested in learning more about Venice's historic sites and wish to help preserve them, contact the committee chair, Betty Intagliata, at (941) 484-0769.

Betty Intagliata Lecture Series

At the April 19 meeting of the Betty Intagliata Lecture Series, Joseph Schneider and Larry Goetz offered the audience an interesting contrast in their presentation entitled, "John Nolen's Plans for Mariemont, Ohio and Venice, Florida:  A Comparison.”  Mr. Schneider and Mr. Goetz reside in both cities (6 months each) and are members of the Mariemont Preservation Foundation.  A question-and-answer session followed.

L-R: Joseph Schneider, Frank Wright, Larry Goetz

At the May 18 meeting of the Betty Intagliata Lecture Series, Gary Youngberg provided a most interesting look at "BLE Buildings Lost to the Wrecking Ball.”  By sharing numerous photos, as well as his own personal experiences, Gary created in audience members a feeling of nostalgia and prompted reflections on the importance of historic preservation.

L-R: Gary Youngberg, Clarke Pressly

On the evening of June 21, Dorothy Korwek, former Director of Historical Resources for the City of Venice (1996-2007) and author of the John Nolen Plan of Venice, Florida, presented slides and commentary illustrating Nolen’s plan for historic district development.  About 50 people were in attendance.  In the question-and-answer portion, comments concerned the Edgewood District and how the original concepts might be affected under changing guidelines.

This was the last session of the Betty Intagliata Lecture Series for 21-’22.  The past year provided a mixture of videotaped and in-person presentations about local history and preservation.  It was fitting that a local expert of Dorothy’s caliber should bring the season to a successful close.

L-R: Dorothy Korwek, Frank Wright, Betty Intagliata

Photos by Kristen Bailey

Thank you, Venice Aerial Photography

VAHS thanks Venice Aerial Photography for the generous donation this spring of aerial photos of the Historic 1927 Train Depot and campus.  The series of images, taken by drone, shows the full Depot campus, as well as the two train cars that VAHS maintains next to the Depot.  For more information about Venice Area Photography, click here.

Photo courtesy of Venice Aerial Photography

In Memory of Evelyn Nelson

Evelyn Nelson, former VAHS volunteer, member of the Communications Committee, and Board member, recently passed away at age 57.  With her extensive technology skills, Evelyn created VAHS’s first website, and she used her talent as a graphic artist to professionalize VAHS’s image in its newsletter and brochures, on rack cards, and on social media outlets.

Most important, despite her never-ending suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Evelyn shared her positive and inspiring outlook with all.  Her contributions to VAHS cannot be overstated.  She was a friend to many, and she will be sorely missed.

In Memory of

Devon Grady Hough, Jr.

Devon Grady Hough, Jr. recently died in Venice at the age of 87. He was a longtime member of VAHS, and he was active in supporting many Venice events.  Grady first came to Venice during his high school years when his father took the position of station agent at the Venice Train Depot.  His father enlisted Grady to work part-time at the Depot.  Grady once told a VAHS audience that he ran back and forth to the Freight Room for bills of lading at his father's request.  In 1990-91, Grady helped VAHS obtain its nonprofit status with the IRS working closing with George McLean on this process.  Grady's father served as station agent from 1948 to 1956.  There is a picture of him in the Depot’s second waiting room.

In Memory of

Paul Scarpellini

Longtime member Paul Scarpellini died on June 16, 2022, at the age of 83.  He and his wife Alicia frequently attended the VAHS evening programs, often bringing neighbors.  Their team approach in supporting projects was always welcomed by many groups.  Details can be found at the Farley Funeral Home website and in the June 25th edition of The Venice Gondolier.


Richard Bergmann

Carlene Walker

Alison Williamson

Julie and Denny Seppanen

New Business Member

Armelyn and Jeffrey Giglio--Cruise Planners

Jeffrey Giglio (


If you would like to have a personal chat to find out more about our goals, needs, and plans, or if you are unsure of your renewal date, please contact Carol Bailey, Membership Chair, at  You can also leave a brief message on the VAHS phone at 941-412-0151.

Support VAHS Business Members

Click here for a printable version of this application.

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