• President's Letter
  • Calendar of Events
  • 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot
  • Circus Car Museum
  • Volunteer Docents
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Meet the Board of Directors
  • VAHS Salutes
  • Dr. William Jervey Scholarship
  • Collection Acquisitions
  • VAHS Traveling Exhibition
  • Pop-Up Meet-Up
  • Betty Intagliata Lecture Series
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Around Town
  • History:  Did You Know?
  • Venice Centennial Celebration
  • Welcome to Our Newest Members
  • In Memoriam
  • Support VAHS Business Members
  • Membership & Volunteer Application

President's Letter

Summer 2024

Frank Wright, President

Summer has descended!  The Snowbirds have returned to their homes.  Our own "Sunbirds" who live here mostly year-round are off exploring the northern climes.  We poor souls who have been left behind have the solace of being able to reserve a table at a nice restaurant and find a parking space nearby.  Traffic has become almost tolerable!

Your historical society keeps on keeping on.  We have added two new Board members, Bill Haberthur and Jason Gallourakis, who bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to our Board (see bios below).  They hit the ground running.  Bill has already revised and freshened our website, assumed the long-vacant Communications Committee Chair, and established the VAHS Traveling Exhibition of memorabilia for display, first at the Jacaranda Library, and now at the Jervey Library (see photos below).  Jason has undertaken the important Governance Chair and will help your Board plan for the future in our Strategic Planning session in October.  Both of them, as well, are vital members of your Society's Centennial Committee, planning for the extended celebration of the City's Centennial.

We started Pop-Up Meet-Up events, an informal meeting of old friends and a chance to meet new friends.  The first was at Sharky's On the Pier, and it was a big success! Our next event will be at Snook Haven on July 10th from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm.  Come on out and enjoy the fun!

We are having fun - sharing our common interest in the rich history of this area.  Thank you for being a part of this great trip!  ALL ABOARD!


Frank Wright


Calendar of Events

Upcoming events, future lectures, and tour dates for the Historic Venice Train Depot and the Circus Car are listed on our website.

Venice Area Historical Society

PO Box 995

Venice, FL  34284-0995


1927 Historic Venice Train Depot

In the second quarter of 2024 VAHS welcomed over 500 "passengers" to the 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot, helping us to ‘Celebrate History’ through the eyes of this depot.

The summer months are our slowest season and we have reduced Open Hours to only Saturdays, from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.  This makes it a great time to discover the history of Venice in more detail, by either re-visiting the Depot or by taking your time to discover why many consider this to be the most historically significant building in the City of Venice.

Circus Car Museum

The Circus Car Museum was once again our most popular venue with over 650 visitors.  With smaller crowds at the Circus Car, you have more time to discover some little known stories of the Circus in Venice.

Here are couple of ‘hidden’ stories you can discover:

  • What did Kenneth Feld do when he heard growing stories of the negative impact that the Circus had on the economy of Venice?
  • Who were the Shellenbergers?
  • Did the Clown College have a final exam and, if so, what was it called?

Click on the button below to post your answers on the Facebook thread.

Facebook Thread

Volunteer Docents

Our volunteer docents guide visitors through both the train depot and the circus car. In the second quarter of 2024, the docents covered nearly 300 hours of volunteer service during our regular public hours.

We are now actively enrolling new volunteer Docents to begin training for the fall.  This is a perfect time to join, get trained, and be ready for when our annual visitors flock back to Venice.

For more information, click on the Docent button.

Our volunteer docents guide visitors through both the Train Depot and the Circus Car.  In the first quarter of 2024, the docents covered nearly 150 hours of volunteer service during our regular public hours.

Did you know that we can arrange private tours for groups of 10 or more during hours when we are not open to the public?  This past quarter we hosted groups from Home Owner Associations, Car Clubs, History Hops and a variety of non-profit groups serving the community.  We recently welcomed Clowning Around with Chucko the Clown in association with Suncoast Remake Learning Days.  Our docents Mike and Richard also got into the fun.

For more information or to arrange your tour, click on the button.


Volunteer Opportunities

We often get questions about what volunteer opportunities are available when becoming a VAHS member.  Since there are a number of committees to join, we thought we would provide a brief highlight of each one to see if we can entice you to join us:

Centennial Celebration - create, plan, coordinate, and execute a calendar of events with VAHS and the city to celebrate 100 years of Venice;

Collections - help to catalogue our existing collection; identify "holes" in the collection and explore opportunities to acquire items; and create engaging exhibits throughout the community through the VAHS Traveling Exhibition;

Communications - all aspects of marketing and public relations to help brand VAHS through its:  social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram; its quarterly newsletter The Venice Express; formal presentations at speaking engagements; and its website.  Social media knowledge and computer skills are an asset;

Development - help implement and manage a new merchandising program; coordinate raffles at various events and activities; facilitate Pop-Up Meet-Up events; assist in the Centennial publication of a Venice history book; participate in the planning and coordination of a corporate sponsorship program; and help plan a donor appreciation event for early 2025;

Docents - lead residents, tourists or private groups through the Historic Venice Train Depot and the Circus Car.  Volunteers will be trained in the history of both areas;

Education - develop programs for schools and other children's groups; oversee the VAHS Scholarship Program; provide programming and staff for fairs, celebrations, and community events; and coordinate with docents regarding depot campus tours;

Finance - all aspects of financial planning including, but not limited to:  budgeting; reporting; funding; investing; allocating funds; adhering to federal, state and other requirements related to VAHS finances; and coordinating insurance coverages;

Membership - seek and promote new members as membership dues play a critical role in VAHS funding; connect individual talents with the appropriate VAHS committees; mentor newcomers; and coordinate all aspects of meet and greet events; or

Programing - The Betty Intagliata Lecture Series is seasonal between October and April.  Volunteers will help to select the theme for the season, the topics for each lecture, identify the speakers, engage them, book the venue, and coordinate the actual event.  In addition, volunteers are needed to help coordinate the Speakers Bureau.  Here knowledgeable VAHS members provide presentations about local history or a historic character.  The goal is to educate, enlighten, and entertain.

If any of these committees sound interesting to you, we would welcome your assistance.  Please email us by clicking the button below with your specific interest(s).


Meet the Board of Directors

Our newly-amended bylaws allow VAHS to increase the size of our Board to as many as fifteen members.  The current Board felt the need to increase its current size from nine to eleven to address key leadership needs in areas such as Governance and Communications.  At the May 23rd Board Meeting, two new Board Directors, Jason Gallourakis and Bill Haberthur, were unanimously appointed.  We are pleased to welcome Jason and Bill to the VAHS Board of Directors.

Jason Gallourakis

Jason’s background as an attorney and Fortune 100 executive combined with his prior non-profit Board experience and passion for history make him an excellent addition to our Board.  Jason chairs the Governance Committee and serves on a number of other VAHS committees and task forces.

Bill Haberthur

Bill’s background on NYC's Wall Street, as well as his extensive leadership experience at the historical society in his hometown of Bethel Park, PA, allows him to bring an impressive set of skills to our Board.  Bill chairs the Communications Committee and the Collections Committee, and serves on a number of VAHS committees and task forces.

Congratulations to both Jason and Bill!

VAHS Salutes

Mary Huba and George Miller

VAHS gratefully salutes Mary Huba and George Miller for their long-standing commitment and dedication to the Venice Area Historical Society.  After many years of volunteering with VAHS, they are stepping back to enjoy more time with their family.

Mary, formerly a professor at Iowa State University for 30 years, has been a resident of Venice since 2007 and an active member of VAHS since 2008.  Mary was instrumental in establishing VAHS's governance framework.

George, formerly a computer administrator at Drake University for 28 years, oversaw VAHS's presence on the Depot Campus and acted as Depot Manager.  The panels he designed describing the historical impact of the railroad on the City of Venice have hung in the depot since 2012.

Together, this dynamic husband and wife co-chaired the Circus Train Car Project, bringing this unique attraction to life at the Depot Campus.  Their enthusiasm for the preservation of Venice's history will long-live in the work they have accomplished.

Although they will no longer be actively involved, we will still be relying on their vast wealth of knowledge and expertise.  Congratulations to you both and thank you for your passion.

Dr. William Jervey Scholarship

In front of the 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot are:  Frank Wright, VAHS President; Jack Bertram, Venice High School Senior; and Dr. William Jervey, Scholarship Sponsor

The Venice Area Historical Society (VAHS) was honored to present its 2024 Dr. William Jervey $1,000 Scholarship to Venice High School Senior Class President Jack Bertram. Jack has been accepted to the University of Florida's Class of 2028 this fall and intends to major in Economics and minor in Political Science, all while on a Pre-Law Track.

While Senior Class President, Jack also served as President of Future Business Leaders of America and was an American Legion Boys State Delegate. Writing to the Scholarship Committee of the School Board of Sarasota County, English teacher Kara Mopps states: "Jack Bertram embodies the quintessential characteristics of a once-in-a-lifetime student. His insatiable thirst for knowledge is evident in every interaction in the classroom. However, what sets Jack apart is not solely his academic achievements, although those are undoubtedly impressive with his 4.0 unweighted GPA, but it is his humility."

Congratulations Jack Bertram, 2024 Dr. William Jervey Scholarship recipient.

Collection Acquisitions

The new mannequin proudly displaying Cadet Victor's KMI uniform.

We recently purchased a full-sized male mannequin to properly display the uniform of a Kentucky Military Institute cadet.  The uniform belonged to Cadet William Victor a 1969 graduate of KMI.  In addition to this uniform, there are many other KMI items on display in the Historic Venice Train Depot.  We welcome your visit to the Depot Campus.

VAHS Traveling Exhibition

The Society has created the VAHS Traveling Exhibition.  The exhibition highlights historic items/artifacts/photographs and other memorabilia from our collection pertaining to the history of Venice, the 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot, the Circus Car Museum, and the Kentucky Military Institute.  It also provides general information about VAHS including our awards, how to join, how to volunteer, and how to donate.

The VAHS Traveling Exhibition is booked for the months of June, July, and August in showcases at our local libraries.  The exhibition will be up for one month at these locations:

  • June - Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library, 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd
  • July - Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library, 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd
  • July - William H. Jervey, Jr. Venice Library, 300 Nokomis Ave. S.
  • August - Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library, 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd

The showcases at the Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library.

June 1st was a busy day as several VAHS members and volunteers gathered at the Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library to set-up our first VAHS Travelling Exhibition in five showcases along the main corridor.  Items on display include:  circus memorabilia, most notably the collection of circus wagons designed and beautifully created by William Morgan, originals posters from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and other circus collectibles; Kentucky Military Institute memorabilia with our "Mike the Mannequin" proudly displaying his cadet uniform and saber, along with vintage photographs, and KMI yearbooks; model trains, train lanterns, and other train-related items to highlight the 1927 Historic Venice Train Depot; historic images of Venice; and general information about VAHS.

We hope you will stop by the library this summer to view the exhibits.  If your organization is interested in having similar exhibits at your location, please contact us:


Pop-Up Meet-Up

Mike the Mannequin watching over the crowd at VAHS's first Pop-Up Meet-Up

VAHS hosted its first ever Pop-Up Meet-Up on May 21st at Sharky's on the Pier.  The well-attended event allowed us to meet and greet potential new members, catch-up with current members, and speak with a few distinguished local elected officials.  Mike the Mannequin, our unofficial VAHS Mascot, also attended.

The next Pop-Up Meet-Up will be July 10th at Snook Haven located at 5000 East Venice Avenue from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm.  We hope to see you there!

Betty Intagliata Lecture Series

Here are the dates for the 2024 / 2025 season.  We are currently finalizing the speakers for 2025:

10/15/24 - Barbara File Marangon - Detour on an Elephant, A Year Dancing with the Greatest Show on Earth

11/19/24All Aboard Bob's Train - An Evening of Conversation

with Bob Horne and Ron Smith

01/21/25 - TBD - Save the Date

02/18/25 - TBD - Save the Date

03/18/25 - TBD - Save the Date

04/15/25 - TBD - Save the Date

Over the years, The Betty Intagliata Lecture Series has been filmed and is available for viewing on VAHS's YouTube channel.

Please click on the button and watch history begin to unfold!

VAHS YouTube Channel

Speakers Bureau

Would your organization like to have one of our experienced lecturers speak about a particular historic subject or figure?  If so, please contact us and we can arrange to provide a lecture which will educate, inform, and impress your audience.

To find out more information, please email us:


Around Town

A recent write up by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, Inc.

A special thank you to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, Inc. for the wonderful acknowledgement of VAHS's "significant contributions to the community."

History:  Did You Know?

Manhattan Produce Exchange in 1942 versus today.

The Manhattan Produce Exchange building is located on East Venice Avenue and is adjacent to the Historic Venice Train Depot Campus.  Built in 1938, the 5,930 square foot building is currently sitting vacant ready for the next chapter in its culturally rich agricultural history.  The building was built to house the fruits and vegetables awaiting transportation on the railroad to destinations north.

The vintage photo is courtesy of the Venice Museum & Archives.  The catalogue description reads, "Venice Railroad Station freight yards showing materials for the Venice Army Air Base being unloaded...  Photo taken from box car at Venice Lumber Company."  The photograph was taken by George H. Hauser in 1942.  The bottom photograph is courtesy of Google.

Venice Centennial Celebration


The Venice Area Historical Society is excited to partner with the City of Venice and other community organizations to help plan Venice's upcoming centennial.  The celebrations will kick off in late 2025 and go through May of 2027.  Our goal is to ensure Venice's fascinating history and the men, women, and organizations who have played a key role in Venice's progress are celebrated by our community's residents and visitors.

As our plans are formalized, we will share more details for specific programs and events.  We always welcome input, so if you have a great idea for the Centennial Celebration you want considered, please email us at:

Welcome to Our Newest Members


To become a member, please contact us at or

leave a brief message at 941-412-0151

In Memoriam

Jerry Madden

GERALD (JERRY) MADDEN was a Lifetime Member and served in many positions with VAHS as a committed volunteer.  He was Vice President with then President Betty Intagliata, when the group first met in a small meeting room at the library on the Island.  Jerry served as Membership Chair for many years and as Depot Docent Coordinator.  He was so pleased to see the growth of membership and docent volunteering.  Jerry passed away on June 19th, and his family asked that contributions in his memory be made to VAHS or the Tidewell Foundation.  Donations may be made online or mailed to VAHS at P.O. Box 995, Venice, FL  34284.

Support VAHS Business Members

Membership & Volunteer Application

Click here for a printable version of this application.

Venice Area Historical Society

PO Box 995

Venice, FL  34284-0995