Hermitage receives $260,000 in grants for historic preservation, artist impact

The Hermitage Artist Retreat recently received two major grants that will be directed to historic preservation efforts and artist impact in the community. The organization received $110,000 from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Inc., to assist with the restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Hermitage House. The Hermitage also received a $150,000 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation for its “Artist Impact SRQ” initiative, an expansion of the Hermitage’s growing community outreach and education programs, enhancing the Hermitage’s support for its artists and broadening the organization’s reach and impact in schools and underserved communities.

The Hermitage House was originally built in 1907 and is the only property on Manasota Key on the National Register of Historic Places. The Selby Foundation’s grant will directly support the repair and restoration of the foundations supporting the Hermitage House. “This vital historic property is not only an iconic building on Manasota Key, but it is central to our organization, our residency program, and our artists,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We greatly appreciate the Selby Foundation for their generosity and for recognizing the importance of preserving this cornerstone of our historic campus.” 

Carol Butera, President and CEO of the Selby Foundation, adds: “The restoration and care of the historic Hermitage House, dating back to 1907, is essential to ensuring many decades of continued success for the Hermitage as a leading arts and cultural institution in our community.” 

While the Hermitage is known for its historic beachfront campus, the organization is also recognized for its expansive community programming. “As our programs and collaborations continue to evolve and expand throughout our region, we are excited to build bridges to new audiences, and also to share the extraordinary educational impact of our programs with the students in our community,” says Sandberg. “This generous gift from Barancik Foundation is going to allow us to provide more support and resources to the diverse and accomplished Hermitage artists who are making a meaningful and lasting impact in our community.”

“It’s time to reimagine how we engage students who have historically been underserved by the arts,” says Teri A Hansen, President/CEO of Barancik Foundation. “This support allows the Hermitage to expand its deeply rooted connection with the community and involve more young minds.”

Historic Cisterns Saved

The two cisterns on the Hermitage campus are extremely valuable historic artifacts marking a period in our past on Manasota Key when potable water was not immediately available at the turn of the tap.

The two cisterns on the Hermitage campus are extremely valuable historic artifacts marking a period in our past on Manasota Key when potable water was not immediately available at the turn of the tap. Dr. Alfred Whitney who built the Whitney House, Pump House and Garage in 1941 was quite the clever guy and he provided for clean water by creating a gutter system that funneled rainwater from the Whitney House into the two wooden cisterns. Pumping equipment in the “Pump House” sent the water back up to the Whitney House under pressure for everyday use. Cisterns were a common way to provide potable water in areas where drilling wells was not practical.

Local historians and County experts tell us that these two wooden cisterns are among the most significant, publicly accessible examples of this aqua-system in the entire region. With historic preservation firmly embedded in our organization’s mission, there was no questioning the importance of raising the funds necessary to save them when nature began having her way with them.

Our community agreed. With major grants from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Ehrhart Family Foundation, Gerri Aaron, and additional support from 20 other community members, the cisterns have been completely rebuilt and stand ready to face the Florida Gulf Coast climate well into the future. We thank everyone who has made this restoration possible.