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.