After a successful fundraising campaign to renovate and restore the Carriage House, the Wilton Manors Historical Society has found another source of funding: the city.
At its Jan. 12 meeting, the commission voted to approve spending $66,000 to build a courtyard and canopy attached to the Carriage House. The city’s contribution will take care of most of the costs and the Historical Society will pay for the rest. In its campaign, the group raised $76,000 in cash and in-kind donations from private donors.
“We are really very grateful for the tremendous interest and support shown by the community in this project,” said Mary Ulm, president of the Historical Society.
Built in 1925 and located in Richardson Historic Park and Nature Preserve, the Carriage House is believed to be the city’s oldest structure. Originally part of E.J. Willingham’s nursery, the property was sold to George Richardson, Sr., who bought the 40 acre-site in 1938 and turned it into a nine-hole golf course – the third in the county. Later, a large portion of it was developed into what is now the Manor Grove condo complex. In 2007, Richardson Park was opened to the public after it was sold to the city by Richardson’s son, George Richardson, Jr.
“It has the ties to our history here, but also it’s a wooden structure and that’s a rarity. It has some of the original Dade County Pine in it. It’s got historic features we didn’t want to see lost,” said Ulm.
But it’s not just about preservation.
The structure has been renovated to include a bar to enhance the features available for individuals and groups that rent the park for events. The canopy and courtyard are also part of that enhancement. “We thought, if we could turn it into a venue that people could enjoy that would be a great way to benefit the public and preserve our history,” said Ulm.
Ron Ulm, project manager for the Historical Society, estimates the canopy and courtyard could be finished by March depending on weather. “We just really don’t know until we get further along.”