“We are very excited to get started on this project,” said KPHS President Judy Mills after signing the papers Oct. 13.
The historical society voted to accept donation of the old hall at its annual meeting March 19.
The building that began as a Fourth of July dance floor called The Bowery in 1889 became a library in 1893 through the efforts of the Library Association, formed by a group of pioneer women headed by Sarah Bassett and Cornelia Hall.
Alfred Van Slyke owned the property and his son, Harmon, Sr., bought it when the library moved to the KP Civic Center. Harmon and his wife turned it into their home, which was last occupied by their grandson, Gerald (Jerry) Wolniewicz. His sister, Donna Docken, the great-granddaughter of Alfred, made the donation.
The building was the first community hall built on the Key Peninsula and is one of the few original historic buildings left. It became the gathering place for various groups, including Vaughn Union High School, church and Sunday school, clubs and social events.
“We are proceeding slowly in cleaning to uncover potential artifacts and not just dump everything,” Mills said.
Due to limited parking, the hall will eventually be used only for storage and display of items that do not fit in the museum space, and for special events with parking shuttles.
“It’s a very long-term project getting state, county and historic site registration,” Mills said.