DUNEDIN — Efforts are under way to hire a company to work on a digital presentation project showcasing the historic Kellogg Mansion now that fund-raising for the first tier has exceeded the goal of $25,000.
By early September $27,860 had been raised. The initial tier goal of $25,000 is considered the most critical by the overseers of the project since it includes the digital data collection of the buildings while they are still standing. Plans call for the mansion to be demolished weeks from now.
Dunedin Historical Preservation Advisory Committee member Cherisse Ponraj, who has a key role in the digital presentation project, said the first task is to work on licensing so that images, documents and other items needed to tell the story of the 7,667 square-foot three-story mansion's 96-year history will be included in the project.
"We are going to put out somewhat of an RFP to local companies that would be able to do virtual reality development," she said.
The first tier involves the current time period of the mansion. Future tiers are going to focus on other historical time periods, Ponraj said, such as when Kellogg owned the mansion and the World War II era.
Fundraising is being handled through the Pinellas Community Foundation.
Ponraj, who lives in Dunedin, is a vice president of product management for the Nielsen Co., which explains why she is comfortable working in product development for technical projects.
"This preserving of the town's history is dear to my heart. I have always loved this mansion," she said.
So when the advisory committee found out that the mansion wouldn't be preserved, she started thinking about how she could use her skills to help showcase the mansion's history.
"That's when I started thinking about his project and put the proposal out there for the city to consider," she said.
Also having a lead role in the project with Ponraj is Anne Bokneberg, a marketing consultant. She has been working with the museum for the couple of years and is involved with the Historical Preservation Advisory Committee on the marketing side.
Bokneberg worked with the Pinellas Community Foundation to come up with the graphics copy that's at fundrazr.com/KelloggMansion besides her taking on other marketing tasks.
"We've established two new social medias on Instagram and Facebook called Historic Dunedin," she said.
Plans are to insert the marketing for the 3D project on those sites.
The Facebook page, which she initiated about two months ago, already has 350 followers, she said. Visitors to the site can learn about historic properties in Dunedin.
The timeline to initiate the first tier is uncertain at this point. Ponraj would like to have something to share with the community pertaining to the project in December, when people are out and about for the holidays, but she can't confirm that would be possible without knowing who the vendor is.
"I would say it is still in the works because we really don't know who the vendor is who we are going to be going with," Ponraj said. "Vendors work differently. Some have really big teams that can scale and go quickly and some have small teams that have a really niche group of key developers and technologists that maybe can't go as fast."
There's plenty of stories to share in the 3D experience — whether it's about the furniture in the mansion or two nearby islands that Ponraj says have some unique history.
The completed digital preservation provides photo-realistic 3D renderings of the mansion's Mediterranean revival-style architecture, stories of historic and eclectic residents, interactive audio and video presentations and other materials.
There's a lot of enthusiasm for the project, such as among city commissioners. The overall cost of the project is $100,000.
"It's definitely cutting-edge technology. It's not something that a small town is normally able to fund. Not every town has a Kellogg mansion," Ponraj said. "And it's very unique opportunity for us to do something really special for our community," she said.
Blair Kooi, president of the Dunedin History Museum, is encouraged by the fact the fundraising for the first tier has exceeded the $25,000 goal.
"I think it's going to be a very interesting project," Kooi said.
Visit https://fundrazr.com/KelloggMansion for more information and to donate.
Donors also can contribute by check payable and mailed to Pinellas Community Foundation, 17755 US. Highway 19 N., Ste. 150, Clearwater, FL 33764.
A last hurrah at the Kellogg Mansion
On Saturday, Nov. 6, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., there will be a gala farewell sunset tented cocktail party on the Kellogg mansion property. The ticketed event will be the final opportunity for individuals to visit the historic mansion. Ticket cost will be $200 per person, which includes a one-year membership to the Dunedin History Museum and first opportunity to bid on items at the mansion. Guests will have access to the entire mansion for viewing as well as the exterior waterfront property. The event will include hors d’oeuvres, food, drinks, dessert, and live music. The event parking will be across from Frenchy’s Restaurant on the Dunedin Causeway, with transportation to and from the mansion by the Jolley Trolley.
On Nov. 13, a final auction of the Kellogg mansion material will take place live on site, along with bids taken on a special auction internet site. All sales will be final. Guests at the event will be able to preview some of the auction items and place advance bids on several artifacts before the public.
Members will receive notice by email that tickets will be available and can use a passcode to purchase tickets before the public. Tickets will be available starting in September with a limited number of tickets to be sold at the event. Tickets can be purchased online at the museum website Dunedinmuseum.org or purchased at the Dunedin Gift Store.