ANNA MARIA -- The journey of “Thelma by the Sea” is only a half-mile, but it will take at least three days.
And when it’s done, Anna Maria will have yet another way of simultaneously celebrating historic preservation, economic revitalization and energy conservation.
“Thelma By the Sea” -- better known to longtime locals as “Angler’s Lodge” -- is a 98-year-old, two-story, 300,000-pound building that will be moved this weekend from the 100 block of North Bay Boulevard to the Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue.
Lizzie and Mike Thrasher, who already have moved three historic building to the Green Village, are devoting more than $500,000 to the structure’s relocation and renovation. It’s the first time in recent memory that a two-story building has been relocated on the island.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Barbara Sato, president of the island’s 40-member North End Merchants Organization. “The fact that Lizzie and Mike have taken all of these old buildings and so painstakingly and lovely restored them, at incredible expense, is something the community can really be proud of.”
The historic building earned its first moniker because it once was the home of Thelma Wood Holly, who graced the first-ever brochure of the Anna Maria Beach Development Co. that first developed the island. The house earned its second nickname because it used to be where fishermen would stay during their visits to the island.
The big move, which involves an intricate trek across a canal, is the latest in developments involving the Historic Green Village. Just a month ago, the Thrashers opened the Village Cafe in one of the historic buildings. Two weeks ago, the couple opened Relish, a vintage apparel store, in another building.
A third building about to wrap up its renovation will house a medical center, Lizzie Thrasher said. “Thelma by the Sea” will also house commercial ventures, but exactly what kind hasn’t yet been decided.
“This is a beautiful building, and absolutely essential to Anna Maria Island’s history,” said Thrasher, whose previous career was founding the Organix children’s food brand in the United Kingdom. “It’s so great that this is happening, and that we’ve had such support from our local community.”
The house’s original owners played an essential role in not only Anna Maria Island, but in several other Manatee County communities. The development company for which Thelma Wood Holly was a poster girl built the 100-year-old pier that just had its centennial celebration.
Her parents and the people who built the house in 1913, the Woods, were prominent vegetable brokers and owners of packing houses and farms throughout the area. J.R. Wood was Ellenton’s mayor in the early 1900s and owned another historic county building, the Gamble Mansion.
But honoring the community’s heritage is only one part of the Thrashers’ three-fold goal with “Thelma By the Sea” and the Historic Green Village. Each building they renovate is powered by solar and ground heat pumps. And each is reworked to promote the economic success of Anna Maria Island.
Sissy Quinn helped convince the former owners of “Thelma By the Sea” to sell it to the Thrashers for just $10, a deal made possible because the land on which the old building sits is more valuable without it. Quinn said continuing to preserve Anna Maria Island’s past has already and will continue to be an economic boon.
“It’s true all over the country: People with culture love to visit the historic places in the towns they visit,” said Quinn, who calls the house’s preservation “the ultimate green thing to do.”
“But the sad thing is, government has no money left to help move these things and help save them,” she said. “So we’ve got to do it ourselves.”
Christine Hawes, Bradenton Herald business writer, can be reached at (941) 745-7081.