The Reverend Monks home, built in 1910, is the oldest built home in Pinellas Park. The Pinellas Park Historical Society historian Jeanne Cromwell will discuss this and other historic homes in the city at the group’s meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17, 7 p.m., at Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd.
PINELLAS PARK – When Jim Bubenheim decided to join the Pinellas Park Historical Society last year he was surprised by the low turnout at meetings.
“Most of the time it was just me and Dean [Braden, the group’s president,]” he said, “just the two of us staring at each other.”
As the owner of JB Effects, a company that preserves and restores photographs and videos, conserving history is his forte.
“It’s what I do for a living,” he said. “It’s my passion.”
So Bubenheim sprung to action when rumors began to circulate that the group might disband.
“There’s a lot of history in Pinellas Park and I don’t want to lose it,” he said, especially with the centennial anniversary coming up in 2014, which includes plans to exhume the city’s time capsule. “It would be embarrassing if nobody shows up but the person with the shovel.”
The first step to revamping the organization will come at its Thursday, Aug. 15 meeting at 7 p.m. at Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd.
Jeanne Cromwell, historian for the historical society, as well as the City of Pinellas Park, will be the guest speaker.
She’ll give a presentation on historic homes in Pinellas Park, which she’s currently writing a book about, she said. These homes include the Reverend Monks Home, at 5827 72nd Ave., built in 1910, making it the oldest home actually built in the city, and the Belcher House, built in 1900 and relocated to Pinellas Park from Largo in 2002.
The idea is to have a special speaker at each monthly meeting, held on the third Thursday of each month, Bubenheim said, something to pique the public’s interest and draw them in.
“It’s something to get people to come out,” Braden added.
After Cromwell speaks on Aug. 15, a brainstorming session will be held to figure out other ways to increase interest in the historical society and turnout at its meetings.
“We need to get some new blood in there, with new ideas,” Braden said.
Turnout at meetings began to dwindle about four years ago, said Braden, who has served as the group’s president for three years. It was an election year in Pinellas Park and some felt that certain members were using the group only to further their political career in the city.
“There was some bad blood,” he said, “and now we’re just hoping to change that.”
Cromwell and Bubenheim said there were also complaints that meetings would go off topic.
“They’d get together and wind up talking about cars and other things that had nothing to do with the historical society,” Cromwell said.
She’s hoping that Bubenheim and Braden will be able to refocus the group and rejuvenate interest in it by planning more engaging meetings.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with,” she said. “I hope they’re able to revive interest.”