The Dunedin History Museum held an early October Ribbon Cutting to celebrate their ten-month expansion and renovation project of the museum. Rod Collman of sdg Architecture, Dunedin, was the Architect who created a very challenging design to give the museum the best possible function and preservation. He chose two highly regarded Dunedin professionals to help oversee the project. Museum Executive Director Vinnie Luisi was very happy with the team and the result.
“When we applied for the grant from the State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs, the panel’s greatest concern was historic preservation,” said Luisi. “The train station that is now our museum was built in 1924 by the Atlantic Coast Railroad. I shared my concerns and vision for the expansion with Rod Collman, President of sdg Architecture, and he understood. He set about designing a gift shop and new entryway that added only three walls with no noticeable difference in the design of the building. The fourth wall inside the gift shop is the exterior east wall of the station with the original windows, roof and Dunedin railroad sign under the new roof structure.”
above left: new walls and floor going up to create the entry, reception and gift shop area
above right: interior under construction with east wall of the original building
above left: Northeast corner of train depot before addition construction. Bronze sculptures by Randolph Rose.
above right: Completed entrance, reception area and gift shop
above left: Completed addition and entrance to museum
above right: Remodeled exhibit spaces and exhibit displays
above: Detailed look at the new roof section blending in and embracing the original historic train depot
Collman said that this was one of the most difficult expansions of his career, despite the small size of the project. “The challenge was truly saving the existing building - the need for detail was extreme,” said Collman. “When we first met to talk about ideas for the expansion, what we ended up doing wasn’t my first idea. It was well known Dunedin architect Dan Massaro who said, “we want to leave this overlay inside the building”. I did a drawing of what we proposed, and Vinnie and the Board of Directors of the museum said “Yes, that is what we are looking for!” Designing in such a manner to wrap around and enclose the old structure was complicated, but necessary to preserve the original building and make it look original on the outside. That exterior wall built in 1924 is the first artifact you see when you come in.”
Team members included Dan Massaro, Project Manager, and Terry Hodge, President of Terbo Group contractors. “Dan played the role of Owner’s Representative to oversee the project,” said Collman. “He came to Dunedin from Chicago in 1973 and in 1985 he started his own business, Massaro and Associates, Inc. He was my partner for five years. Terry Hodge is the President of Terbo Group contractors. As General Manager of construction, Terry made sure everything was completed on time and within budget.”
“The result was these three guys working together,” said Luisi. “It was a dream team. The City Commissioners and staff were so confident in the project’s planning and management, they rarely needed to check or supervise our progress. They had it covered.”
above: Bas relief sculpture honoring the role of the railroad in the history of Florida and Dunedin, Sculpture by artist Jerry Karlik, St. Petersburg
Luisi is proud of the new level of presentation in the museum’s exhibits. Because of the funding that became available for showcasing the museum’s collection and the objects borrowed for temporary exhibits, the design, fixtures and layout of the galleries, the museum is more visually and physically sophisticated than ever before. The City of Dunedin allocated $400,000 with half of that earmarked for the extension of the project for exhibits and completion and outfitting of gallery space. The State of Florida, Division of Cultural Affairs allocated $400,000 and the museum raised $60,000 in private funding to supplement exhibits.
“We are showcasing 150 years of Dunedin History, and the ancient history of the native people who lived in the area. Our exhibits now include videos and interactive monitors as well as traditional artifacts to better bring history alive. This gives us the opportunity to attract more school groups for more programs suited to them,” said Luisi.
above: East facing side of the Dunedin History Museum and the Pinellas Trail, once the rail bed of the Atlantic Coast Railroad
Collman calls this a ‘Legacy Project’. “I’ve had the pleasure of working on other such projects like the Dunedin Fine Art Center, the Dunedin Community Center and the Largo Public Library,” he said. “The Dunedin History Museum is carefully planned to honor and celebrate the history and public of the past, present and future. I’m very happy with what we were able to do to provide future generations of visitors and school children with such a wonderful resource and tribute to our city.
The non-profit 501(c)(3) Dunedin History Museum was established in 1970 in the town’s train station, built in 1924. The museum contains approximately 2,000 artifacts, 2,500 photographs, and a library containing 200 volumes of local and Florida history.
Architect Rod Collman sold his share of Collman and Karsky Architecture, the firm he worked for over 50-years, four years ago. In 2014, he and Gary Badders of Shorelines Design Group established sdg Architecture in Dunedin, FL. He specializes in municipal, public, museum, sports complexes and a variety of types of commercial buildings.