Manatee County cracker-Gothic-style house up for restoration

April 22, 2014 

BRADENTON - A 128-year-old cracker-Gothic-style house that has been looking rough around the edges for years is going to get a full restoration, once an architect and an engineer figure out how much it will cost.

Manatee Village Historical Park is looking to pay a firm or firms to evaluate the condition of the W.A. Vanderipe House, a two-story example of cracker-Gothic architecture. The house, which was built by former county commissioner W.A. Vanderipe, was moved to historical park property on the corner of 14th Street E. and 7th Ave. E. about seven years ago. Since then, the park has made minor repairs, including replacing windows and patching leaks where non-historic additions were removed.

Phaedra Rehom, the park's supervisor, said the house is to be restored and remodeled into a meeting, research and archiving facility. The park has had several contractors evaluate the house and submit pricing for a remodel, but pricing has varied widely. Rehom said that the park intends to hire an architect and structural engineer to draw up remodel plans. Those plans would be the basis for future work bids.

The park recently issued a request for proposals on the project. A block grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will pay for the architectural and engineering work.

The Vanderipe house is not the first cracker-gothic structure at the park. The fully restored Stevens Settler's House is already open as an example of this type of naturally cooled, historic house. Because the Vanderipe house will function as a research and meeting facility, it will be air conditioned, electrified and renovated for regular use.

Under the request for proposals process, experience with restoration work will weigh heavily in choosing an engineer and architect for the project. Proposals must be submitted to the Manatee Clerk of Court by 3 p.m. on May 14. The Manatee County Historical Commission, the entity that operates the historical park, will hold an informational meeting about the project at the Vanderipe House at 9 a.m. on April 30.

Rehom said work on the house will likely take place in phases as donations and other funding become available.

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