Ship Shape

CIHS History Gallery Sails Again

Front-wide copy.jpegThe Captiva Island Historical Society is pleased to announce its History Gallery, a replica of the old mailboat “Santiva,” is once again open and completely refurbished..

 Newly refurbusihed CIHS History Gallery

Located in the Captiva Memorial Library, the CIHS History Gallery, cleverly designed to resemble the interior of the old mailboat, had been closed since July 2022, due to structural damage to the floor and closure of the library due to Huricane Ian.

Last July a soft spot was detected in the floor at the entry to the history gallery.  Moisture had eaten away at the subfloor, leaving a hole under the floor tiles.

The Bigger Problem

The problem was not restricted to the entrance of the history gallery.  Upon further investigation additional soft spots and rotted subfloor were discovered in other areas of CIHS gallery8 7.11.22 copy.jpgthe history gallery and adjacent office space of the library.

An entire section of the library flooring showed signs of deterioration.  The repair would be extensive, requiring the entire floor be pulled up.  But before work could commence, the CIHS History Gallery would need to be dismantled and removed.

The Captiva Civic Association, the owner of the building, would take full responsibility for repairs to the subflooring, including the section that housed the CIHS History Gallery.  However, the CIHS would be responsible for removal and reinstallation of the “Santiva” exhibit.

The Dilemma

This presented an unexpected and expensive dilemma for the Captiva Island Historical Society.  Its history gallery had only recently undergone a complete refashion and upgrade.  It was in top notch condition.  Now it had to be dismantled! 

Big, daunting questions loomed, presenting one challenge after another for the CIHS Board of Directors.  Could the “Santiva” exhibit be disassembled without being severely damaged?  If so, who had the expertise to do the work?  What about storage?  Once disassembled, how and where could it be stored?  And more troubling, how could it be reinstalled to look as good as it did before?

The Solution

CIHS Vice President, Mike Boris, the only remaining Director serving on the Board when the history gallery was opened in 2014, thought the best place to start was Wilderness Graphics of Tallahassee, who originally designed, fabricated, and installed the “Santiva” exhibit.

When Mike contacted Wilderness Graphics it was a pleasant surprise to connect with Cindy Abaco, the original Project Manager for the “Santiva” exhibit.  Fortunately, all the plans still existed. Wilderness Graphics assured the CIHS they could successfully disassemble and reinstall the “Santiva” exhibit; so the 123_1 2 copy.jpeghistorical society was delighted and drew up the necessary agreement for the project.

The "Santiva" exhibit was dismanteled the week of December 12th

The arrangement called for Wilderness Graphics to send two crew members to Captiva for an estimated three days to disassemble the exhibit.  After the CCA contractor completed the structural repairs to the floor, the two crew members would return to reinstall the “Santiva.”  

It was the responsibility of the CIHS to arrange housing for the crew for the nights they would remain on Captiva.  Graciously Tony Lapi, CIHS Director and President, CEO of Rochester Resorts, provided complimentary lodging at ‘Tween Waters Inn, one of their resorts.

The Captiva Civic Association graciously consented to provide a section of the civic center hall for storage of the disassembled sections of the exhibit.

Enter Mother Nature

By mid-September all plans and arrangements were in place and set to go.  But what is it 123_1 copy.jpegthey say about best laid plans often go awry?  Well, they did, big time, thanks to Hurricane Ian.

Wilderness Graphics crew with the dismatled "Santiva"
safely stored in the CCA hall

The Wilderness Graphics crew was scheduled to arrive on Captiva the afternoon of September 26.  With news of an impending hurricane, Cindy Abaco at Wilderness Graphics notified Mike Boris it might be best to postpone the arrival of the crew until after the hurricane passed.  On September 27th, Cindy notified Mike the crew had been rescheduled to start work Tuesday morning, October 4th.  September 28th turned island life upside down.

A Resilient Reset

It took until mid-December for the Wilderness Graphics crew to be able to dismantle, piece-by-piece, the “Santiva” and store it safely in the CCA hall.  Repair of the structural 123_1 3 copy.jpegdamage to the library floor then began. By mid-January the Wilderness Graphic crew came back to reinstall the “Santiva,” in better condition than before.  

Repair work begins on floor of the History Gallery

In addition to being completely repainted, new soft-on-the-feet, wood-simulated flooring was installed, along with a new exhibit feature, the hourly timetable of the mailboat “Santiva.”

Coming to the Rescue

In addition to the disruption and dislocation from Hurricane Ian, the CIHS faced a substantial, unexpected expense associated with its History Gallery, more than $30,000.  Yet, in the midst of the challenges and uncertainty the island community and the CIHS faced, one very bigSide-right.jpegcertainty was support from CIHS’ supporters. Thanks to the generous gifts from friends of the CIHS, the history gallery’s unexpected expenses are now covered.

The reinstalled and refurbished "Santiva" exhibit

The CIHS History Gallery illustrates Captiva’s unique, diverse history.  The space takes on the wooden look of the interior of the old mailboat, “Santiva," which serviced the islands prior to the construction of the Sanibel Causeway in 1963.

The history gallery is located in the Captiva Memorial Library and can be accessed during library hours. 

Please check the Captiva Memorial Library website (see link below) for days and times.  Please visit, and take a cruise back in time!

Captiva Memorial Library

Bridging the Past and the Present