EAST MANATEE -- With the 100th birthday of its cherished school house only a year away, members of the Myakka City Historical Society still need $300,000 to meet their goal of a grand reopening in November, 2014.
But the restored place will be far from a nostalgic one-room log cabin. Completed, it will offer the rural community a new branch library, full auditorium, meeting rooms, computer lab and offices available to the public in Myakka City Community Park, once the full $800,000 is raised to complete the renovations.
They're hoping to get several thousand closer Sunday when Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Stallions give a dress performance as a benefit, accompanied by A Taste of Myakka at 4 p.m. at 32755 Singletary Road, according to Marilyn Coker, Historical Society president.
"We have covered two thirds of the cost of the renovation of school and we are still in process of rais
ing the last third so we can hopefully cut the ribbon in November of 2014, which was first month of school.
"The horses are historical and the school house is historical," Gabby Hermann previously told the Herald. She attended classes as a child at the Myakka City school.
This is the third year for the performance and food event. "It raises enough money to cover all of our expenses for the year and to do some work on the building," Coker said. "Our net last year was about $7,000, after we had paid all of the expenses."
Among the treats offered in the Taste of Myakka will be fried green tomatoes, funnel cake, gator bites, ribs, chicken, pulled pork and homemade ice cream. The gate price donation is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12.
Gates open at 2 p.m. Performance begins at 4 p.m. Viewers need to bring lawn chairs for seating.
As far as the building, all of the interior finishes need to be done. The outside is finished and the wiring, electrical, heating and air conditioning are completed. It is ready for the insulation, ceilings, drywall, plaster repair, finishes around windows, finishing on the floors and the painting, Coker said.
Next on the list are the fire alarm and the insulation.
Although Dave Miller, Historical Society vice president, calls himself a Michigan transplant, he developed an interest in the historic school house after his move to Myakka City.
"Its been about 14 or 20 years since its been moved and no longer used for an actual school. We want to restore it so we can give some of the history back to the city that a lot of the kids aren't remembering, plus give it back to the city and put a branch library in the city and modernize it with computer access," Miller said.
"A lot of kids have projects they have to do. To get back to library in town it's 25 miles both ways," he said.
"All of us, we try," he said. "It's a small group, but we keep trying. We're pushing hard. It's a struggle to try to get the funds raised to try to get it competed."
Keeping the history alive will also be a part of the preservation, according to Bonnie Bray Carlton, a Historical Society board member.
"I don't care how old you are, every age can take advantage of the property," she said. "Also we want to have a small museum in it that ties us to our heritage."
The history displays would include "big old scalding pots, tack, saddles and hand tools, whatever we can scratch up we can put in there and rotate all the time," Carlton said. "We want to keep it ever changing and growing. We've got a great history out here. People really appreciate it. People from town, when they move out here, they begin to appreciate the history and tradition."