Dilapidated and deteriorating, a light of hope shines on the historic Patten House in Ellenton.
For the first time, a Manatee County historic site was chosen by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation to be on its 2018 Florida's 11 to Save list.
Since 2005, the nonprofit names the "most threatened historic properties in the state" to be part of a yearlong focus to facilitate constructive partnerships between the stakeholders and various agencies, individuals and organizations.
"Inclusion on the Florida's 11 to Save is a starting point for the Florida Trust's advocacy and education efforts, and are intended to be part of a collaborative to identify custom solutions for each property," a Florida Trust press release stated Thursday.
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The four-bedroom Florida pioneer house was built in 1895 by Dudley Patten, and over the years was transformed and relocated as to not block the view of the grand Gamble Mansion. The state parks department eventually said they would take care of the exterior and the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy would maintain the interior.
Even so, the property had to close to visitors in 2014 because it was too damaged by termites.
When considering what site will make the cut each year, Florida Trust board member Marty Hylton said they consider the significance of the site in context of Florida history and the immediacy of the threat.
"I think the Patten House is one of those vestiges of old Florida that's quickly disappearing," Hylton said Thursday.
He also noted that the house is "equally significant" to the Gamble Mansion, but has been "overshadowed."
Hylton is the historic preservation program director for the University of Florida College of Design, Construction & Planning. He and a graduate student conducted a study of the effectiveness of the "Florida's 11 to Save" program.
Of the 58 sites the trust has focused on, nearly half have been saved within two years of their nomination, Hylton had found. Unfortunately, four were lost.
Twenty-seven nominations were considered this year, which was the most the trust has had at one time. Other historic sites chosen include the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale that faces demolition; the Neoclassical Bank of Everglades in Collier County; and the Irma-damaged Marjory Stoneman Douglas House in Miami.
Lela Hartsaw, a local historian, has been fighting to save the Patten House. Though she thought she had missed the deadline to submit the house for consideration, Hartsaw jumped out of her seat when she learned it had been chosen.
She hopes to establish collaboration to first fortify the ailing structure and get some creative uses introduced.
"They saw what I see, and they agreed," she said. "Their selecting the house validates that it's worth saving. That this place matters."