DUNEDIN — The missing artifacts have been returned to the Kellogg mansion, and now community leaders are focusing on using technology to showcase its architecture and share its story.
Commissioner Deborah Kynes said during the city commission's July 13 meeting that salvage companies brought back the materials to the landmark home, which is slated to be demolished.
A lawsuit seeking the return of personal property has been dropped because the artifacts were voluntarily returned, Kynes said.
"I'm so happy because all auction funds … go directly to the History Museum," said Kynes, who is the commission's liaison to the museum.
Now that the items have been returned, Blair Kooi, president of the Dunedin History Museum, said an auction or other event will be held in November or sooner for the sale of the items. The specific use of the proceeds is yet to be determined, but the museum is committed to historic preservation, he said.
"Whenever a project will come up," Kooi said.
Preserving the mansion's spirit
On a related topic, a fundraising drive is underway to create a three-dimensional presentation of the mansion.
Duggan Cooley, chief executive of the Pinellas Community Foundation, said Dunedin asked the foundation to start a fund so there would be a way to raise money necessary to get a three-dimensional presentation off the ground.
For this drive, the foundation created a crowdfunding/fundraising site that "hopefully, over time will develop more traction and be successful."
The crowdfunding/fundraising site is https://fundrazr.com/kelloggmansion
Cooley said one of the main reasons city officials reached out to the foundation is that they were partners in the move to preserve the Gladys Douglas-Hackworth preserve.
"They know that we are very interested in doing what donors ask of us and building trust in the community to help continue raising funds," he said.
The $25,000, the initial goal, will allow videography and photography of the mansion as it is now in a basic three-dimensional presentation. As of July 22, nearly $13,000 had been raised. If donations reach more than $25,000, there are opportunities to have a more complex presentation, featuring different times periods of the mansion.
Kynes said in the interview July 20 that if buildings can't be preserved physically, then technology should be considered, referring to the three-dimensional project to "preserve the real spirit of these buildings that are no longer going to be there."
"The idea is, if we can do this at a small history museum, it can be replicated across Florida," Kynes said.
Kynes said two volunteers, Cherisse Ponraj, a member of the Dunedin Historic Preservation Committee, and Anne Bokneberg, have spent numerous hours of their time to lay the groundwork on the project,
"They have done a lot of amazing interviewing," Kynes said.
Praise for the new owners
After pursuing all possibilities, physical preservation was proven to be unattainable. The cost in the millions of dollars to obtain available land, move the 18-inch masonry-walled buildings, renovations, operations, staffing and maintenance is unfeasible, the Community Foundation says on the crowdfunding site.
"As a community, we faced unearthing a novel alternative to chronicle the landmark's incredible significance and set meaningful history straight. The answer before us is a more remarkable and unprecedented 3D public access utilizing ultra-modern technology at a fraction of the cost," the foundation's site said.
City officials and museum representatives have praised the new owners, David Wenk and Christa Carpenter, saying they are great to work with, Kynes said.
Cooley said the owners plan to eventually raze the property.
"They have been generous to delay and wait," he said. "We are trying to raise the funds as quickly as possible to do this."
Carpenter said she and her husband, Wenk, are delighted that almost all of the fixtures have been returned.
"We are hopeful that the museum can attract a sizable crowd of interested persons to purchase the pieces at an auction. We also look forward to teaming up with the museum to provide an event for those interested in preservation to further contribute to preservation efforts and fundraising," Carpenter said.
They expect to start demolition in November.
New owners dismayed by artifacts' removal
The new owners of the historic Kellogg mansion arrived at the Dunedin home in late June with their four children to enjoy the sunset. They were dismayed, however, when they learned the house had been stripped of historical artifacts the city had been working for months to preserve, city officials said June 29.
Commissioner Moe Freaney said at the commission meeting that while she was walking in the area near the mansion recently, she came across Kooi.
"I got to walk through it. Pretty amazing. Pretty cool," she said.
"I wouldn't want to be in there in the middle of the night, going through all the nooks and crannies," she added, joking.
Some others were there, including a former Florida Department of Law Enforcement employee.
"She had apparently early on photographed everything. Like every nuance, which is why I'm sure they can know they got everything back," Freaney said.
"They were totally on it," Freaney said. "I think that was the key. They had all the pictures. They could see what was attached to the walls."
The previous owner, Dane Webb, had signed a joint agreement with the new owners, the city of Dunedin and its historical society that stated Webb would remove personal effects but leave the original fixtures. The Dunedin Historical Society would then document the mansion and preserve or auction certain artifacts before the new owners were to demolish the structure and build a new home.
“Ms. Webb deliberately hired a third-party salvage company to remove and offer for sale chandeliers, doors, statues and other historical architectural fixtures,” City Attorney Nikki Day told city commissioners June 29, adding that it was actually several companies. City Manager Jennifer Bramley and other officials were invited to the property by Carpenter and added that “really anything original to the property that was of value had been removed.”
City officials issued a notice of breach of contract to Webb’s attorney on June 27, and commissioners put their full support behind any enforcement efforts Carpenter, who is also an attorney, was pursuing. The mansion has hand-painted murals that were commissioned by Kellogg, hand-carved wood-coffered ceilings, stained-glass windows, detailed mosaics, and original chandeliers.
The Kellogg Mansion was built in 1925 in the Mediterranean Revival architectural style by home builder Edward Frischkorn, who was the original owner of the home. He later sold it to W.K. Kellogg, the founder of the Kellogg Company, which produced Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and other food.