by SC Reporter Meghan Kalenborn
Sanibel has many historical landmarks which are a part of the landscape of our island. A few of them are recognized on the local register of historic landmarks and the Priscilla Murphy Center may be added to the list.
The Historical Preservation Committee plays a role in the placement of landmarks on the local register as outlined in the Land Development Code.
During the committee’s June 2 meeting, HPC members moved to recommend the nomination of the Priscilla Murphy Center to the local register. The yellow building at 1019 Periwinkle Way once served as the main office of Priscilla Murphy, who was one of the first real estate agents on the island.
The building was nominated in March by its current owner, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank. A portion of the building is under renovations to be the bank’s second branch. It was constructed in 1967 and has been remodeled six times and undergone additions four times since 1977.
“The building has retained its original setting and has largely retained its original design motif,” a memo by city staff states.
The LDC outlines four criteria for listing on the local register – historical importance, architectural importance and archaeological importance. And there are five criteria for evaluation of historically significant structures as a historic landmark, which includes structure improvements.
City staff said the building was found to meet two of the four listing criteria – historical and architectural importance – but there was not enough information to determine qualification for the remaining criteria.
Gus Simmons, representing the bank, was in attendance at the committee meeting. He said there is enough information for the building to meet geographic significance, one of the four listing criteria. Therefore, the committee should put forward a motion to approve, said Simmons.
The nomination now moves to the planning commission for approval or denial.
In new business, the demolition of a single-family residence at 2563 Coconut Drive was discussed. The home was built in 1957, which means city staff has to provide documentation and photographs of it to the committee before the decision is made to demolish it, because it was constructed prior to 1963.
The owners of the home want to demolish the structure to build an up-to-date home in its place.
“Our older buildings are slowly being removed and demolished, so we have to make an effort to save some of our buildings,” said a committee member.
The committee highlighted the house is a mess and needed a lot of work and isn’t really showing off the history of the island. Unlike the Priscilla Murphy center, the home on Coconut Drive does not hold any cultural or historical significance, so therefore would not have that element in order for it to be saved.
There was no motion to approve or deny the demolition of the structure during the meeting, but there was agreement the house could lean in a way of being demolished for an up-to-date home to be built in its place.
The next meeting of the Historical Preservation Committee will be July 7, at 9 a.m. in MacKenzie Hall.