National Register Celebration!
The Mound House at 451 Connecticut Street, the oldest standing structure on Estero Island, now owned and operated by the Town of Fort Myers Beach as a museum and cultural complex, learned on April 10 of this year that it joined a very exclusive club – the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
“We of course want to celebrate this historic distinction with the Fort Myers Beach community,” said Alison Giesen, the Town’s Director of Cultural Resources, Mound House Director and Interim Parks & Recreation Director. “This is, quite simply, the highest historic designation the Mound House can achieve, and we now know for sure that future generations will enjoy the Mound House and all it has to say about Fort Myers Beach’s long and rich history. We decided to wait until now, however, because the Mound House opened to the public on November 14, 2015, so we timed this as a fourth anniversary celebration as well!”
To commemorate its NRHP achievement, the Mound House will offer free admission on Saturday, November 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. “In addition to free admission, we will have a series of free educational programs throughout the day,” added Alison. “To find out what we are offering when, go to www.moundhouse.org. This is not only a terrific opportunity to enjoy the Mound House but to meet and interact with our excellent staff, docents and volunteers who we will station throughout the museum. We hope that everyone will stop by our outstanding Museum Store, especially now with the Holidays right around the corner.”
The NRHP is the official listing from the National Parks Service; U.S. Department of the Interior, of historically-significant sites and properties throughout the country. These include districts, sites, buildings and objects of importance to American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture that reflect the prehistoric occupation and historical development of our national, state and local communities.
Took a Chance
“The Town took such a chance on preserving the Mound House,” marveled Alison, “as it only incorporated five years before, with limited financial resources to undertake such a monumental purchase. When you think of it that way, it is an amazing achievement, and speaks well of the Town’s leadership, then and now. There are so many people to thank for preserving and maintaining the Mound House, including our current and former staff, current and previous Town Councils, and countless volunteers. I don’t even want to attempt to thank them all by name, however, as I would leave someone out, and even if I could remember every name, the list would be too long to print!”
In addition to the community pride the Mound House’s inclusion to the NRHP brings, Alison points out there is also an economic benefit. “With NRHP status, we have an on-site historical marker we will prominently display, but most importantly, the Federal Government promotes the Mound House nationally, as many tourists travel the country to experience NRHP sites and they come with money in their wallets. Some may reserve a hotel room for a night or two, but almost everyone will shop in our stores and dine in our restaurants.”
As the Mound House moves forward, it continues to develop public programs, “especially with more events geared to our local residents, with additional offerings in the summer when traffic is manageable, locals have more time, and other organizations do not offer many activities, to thank them for their support and better serve our community.” The Mound House is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; for information and a program schedule, call 239-765-0865 or visit www.moundhouse.org.
Alison hopes “all Fort Myers Beach residents are as ecstatic as we are about the Mound House gaining NRHP status, as this is a great honor. This places the Mound House on a very short list of historic attractions throughout the nation, and our entire Town should be proud of this recognition. Thank you to everyone in the Fort Myers Beach community who supports the Mound House, and even though we are here to preserve the past, together we look forward to an exciting future!”