Author Archives: CathySalustri

Survey: What do we preserve in Gulfport?

Recently, several residents approached us and asked us if we could help with historic preservation. The short answer is “Of course!” but the longer answer is that preservation matters, and it matters to us that we do it right.

We are in discussion with the city as to the best way to do the following:

  1. Revive the Gulfport Historical Register for properties
  2. Help property owners apply for historic designation with the city
  3. Help property owners apply for designation with the National Register

Please note, the Gulfport Historical Society does not intend historical designation to change city codes. Participation in getting your property declared historic with the city will not mean the city can tell you what color to paint your home.

Before we can start any preservation efforts, however, we would like to hear from you. While the National Register has certain guidelines as to what can get designated, the Gulfport Register will not — but we’d like to know what’s important to you as a Gulfportian that we preserve. To that end, please complete the following 10-question survey (it’s anonymous) so we can tailor our efforts.

Thanks so much,

Cathy Salustri, president, Gulfport Historical Society

Save the date for Founder’s Day: A Celebration of Gulfport

Introducing the first annual… 

Gulfport Founder’s Day:

A Celebration of Gulfport 

October 14

9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

followed by 

Gulfport Under the Stars

Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres & dancing on the lawn

7:30 p.m.

Watch this space for more information!

Want to get involved? Want your organization involved?

Please call Karean Dorn at 727-744-1900

A porch party with Bill Belleville

Please join us for our August porch party: Getting to Know Florida’s Engaging “Water World” — from the Inside Out with author, documentarian and environmentalist Bill Belleville.

Bill’s written several books: River of Lakes, Salvaging the Real Florida and, most recently, The Peace of Blue. He’s an engaging writer who brings Florida’s watery world to life with his vivid descriptions and elegant prose.

Come hear Bill speak about Florida’s water on Friday, August 18, 2017 at 7 p.m.  We’ll have his books available and he’ll gladly sign them. He’ll speak for a while, taking questions throughout his talk.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; please bring a dish to share — or don’t. We’re cool like that. Members drink free, but anyone can BYOB or buy  soda, coffee or tea. Free water, community & fun. Dogs, well-behaved kids and bearded dragons welcome because, hey, this is Gulfport.

Find us on Facebook or show up in real life.

Special thanks to the Seabreeze for sponsoring a portion of the porch party. Please patronize our local businesses so our town stays as unique as our history.

Want to sponsor a future porch party? Costs of sponsorship range from $50-$500, so we have sponsorships for every budget. Please get in touch here.

Porch parties at the Gulfport History Museum

Lynn Waddell

Lynn Waddell, one of many great Floridians you’ll meet at our monthly porch parties.

Every month the Gulfport Historical Party hosts a porch party. Some months we have speakers, some months we have our “So You Think You Know Gulfport” trivia show, and some months we may do something else entirely.

Past speakers have included historians, local authors, genealogists and storytellers. We try and make each porch party different so that throughout the year everyone can find something that sparks their interest at the Gulfport Historical Society.

Here’s a video from our May 2017 porch party, when Jack Davis spoke about the Gulf of Mexico.


Lynn Waddell’s Fringe Florida porch party

Please join us for our July 21 porch party, featuring Lynn Waddell, author of Fringe Florida. She’ll discuss Florida’s kookier places and people, from furries to UFOologists (is too a thing!) and will happily sign books and answer questions. Fringe Florida available at the Museum. Lynn has chronicled a collection of odd bits of Florida — not necessarily weird Florida, but fringe cultures that exist in our wonderful state. She’s a gifted writer and a lot of fun to listen to, so we hope to see you there. Here’s some more information about her so by the time you meet her, she’ll feel like an old friend.

Waddell wrote Fringe Florida: Travels Among Mud Boggers, Furries, Ufologists, Nudists, and other Lovers of Unconventional Lifestyles. The book is a collection of essays that guides readers through the state’s eclectic and daring worlds. Her book is a national IndieFab award-winner. The Tampa Bay Times called it one of the best non-fiction books of 2013 and Creative Loafing awarded it the “Best Journey into the Underbelly of the Sunshine State.”

Lynn’s career has spanned many chapters and genres. She was a staff writer at the Birmingham News, the casino beat reporter at the Las Vegas SUN and a news scribe for Tampa’s Weekly Planet (now Creative Loafing). Her reporting and writing on Florida has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Newsweek, the Daily Beast and various other national and regional publications.
She’s penned investigative reports, travel articles, and economic profiles. She’s been a field producer for Paris’ TV5Monde, a journalism professor at the University of Tampa and a researcher for the major motion picture, ‘Showgirls.” She’s appeared on MSNBC, Oxygen Network and Discovery Channel shows related to her news articles.

A native of Alabama, Lynn graduated in journalism from the University of Alabama. She also holds a degree from the University of South Florida where she was a Poynter Institute fellow. She resides in St. Petersburg with her husband James and dog-daughter Sandy. A member of the Florida Humanities Council speaker’s bureau, Lynn speaks on the unusual subcultures that make Florida so Florida.

On July 21, the doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the talk starts at 7 p.m. Dogs and other furry things welcome; members get special benefits, so join today.


Coming Soon: Gulfport History Month

October 1 heralds the start of Gulfport History Month, and we’ve jam-packed the month with everything from a 5K race to a low country seafood boil. Read on to plan your best October ever:

Come meet Gulfport photographer Bob Bates Friday, October 2 at Gulfport’s Catherine Hickman Theatre (5501 Beach Boulevard) as we unveil our show, Changes Along the Bayou: Gulfport Then and Now. Bob took old Gulfport photos and re-created them; at the art reception in the Hickman lobby. Pia’s Trattoria will provide snacks the city operates a cash bar. The reception begins at 6 p.m.; please come meet Bob and the board.

On October 10, Celebrate Gulfport at the Born on the Bayou Celebration of the 105th anniversary of the city’s incorporation (although Gulfport’s older than that!). The day’s festivities start with a free pet parade, organized by Gulfport Get Rescued. From there, we’ll have retro kids games, music, the mullet toss, Fishermen Feats of Strength (grown-up games), trolley history tours, and free guided kayak tours (courtesy of Sea Tow Tampa Bay; follow them on Facebook). Signup for the kayak tours is limited; we will sign people up starting at 9:30 and provide transport from the museum to the kayak launch site. Pets, kids, and humans welcome. All events start at the Gulfport History Museum (5301 28th Avenue South).

Friday, October 16, please join us for the Flying Mullet 5K and One Mile Doggie Dash/Fun Run. This run starts the museum, leads you through some of the most interesting parts of downtown, and finishes with a great street party at O’Maddy’s. Runners get beer and pasta at the race’s end. Every participant gets a medal, and Gulfport artist Eric Folsom designed and made the trophies. Dogs (or other animals) who participate in the run/walk get their own goodie bag. Kids under 10 can compete for $10; the net proceeds from all the kid registration goes to MY Foundation, a charity that helps Gulfport’s oldest and youngest community members. The run starts at 6 p.m. at the Gulfport History Museum (5301 28th Avenue South).

Gulfport gets Down on the Bayou at the third annual Gulfport Under the Stars. This year, taste a touch of the lowcountry along the Gulf Coast with a seafood boil, live music, and dancing under an almost-full Hunter’s Moon. Gulfport Under the Stars takes place on the grounds of the newly-redone Gulfport History Museum. The dinner includes free soft beverages, a seafood boil, and dancing. New this year: a dessert and soft drink only option! We are pleased to announce Pia’s Trattoria will provide a tempting array of desserts, and Hot Tub Club will provide live music. As always, dress is Florida Casual – please wear your best flip flops. Buy your tickets here. Gulfport Historical Society members, please use the discount code emailed to you in the August issue of the Historian. Adult beverages available.

End Gulfport History Month with mostly-spooky stories around our bonfire pit. We’ll have s’mores fixins and hot dogs available for a nominal fee, and a professional storyteller to tell us spooky stories. Join us at dark with your kids and pets to hear and tell scary stories. Costumes welcome but not necessary; beverages available. The fun starts at 7 p.m. and lasts until the stories end!

Come to any or all of these events and get caught up in Gulfport!

2016 Wall Calendars Now Available for Pre-Sale

CoverWEBIf you missed getting the Gulfport Historical Society’s 2015 ultimate guide to all things Gulfport (Some like to call it a “wall calendar”) this year, don’t let 2016 go by without one of these hanging in your home.

Some people ask, “Why do I need a calendar? I have one on my phone?”

Yes, you do. But our calendar has much more than spaces to write appointments; it includes information about city services, who to call in city government when you have a question or concern, all the special and recurring Gulfport events, and the holiday trash collection schedule. Want to know when Gulfport Neighbors will hold the next Junk in the Trunk? It’s in the calendar. What time does SoTangerine! Market on the Greenway end every Saturday? It’s in the calendar. What day is GeckoFestIt’s in the calendar.

Trust us when we tell you, we’ve included everything you could possibly want to know about Gulfport.

This year’s theme, If History Could Send Postcards From a Bayou Town, explores Gulfport’s maritime heritage with a re-imagined look at Gulfport photos. We’ve taken photos most of you have probably never seen before – some are brand-new to us, too – and we’ve played with the idea “How would someone have made this a postcard? What would the sender have said?” Throughout the year, we play with the idea of what tourism in Gulfport might have looked like 50 or 100 years ago.

Last year, we sold out of 2015 calendars before the end of 2014. Pre-order your 2016 Calendar and we’ll have it ready for you at Born on the Bayou: A Celebration of Gulfport on October 10. They only cost five dollars, and every cent we make off the calendar goes towards historical programming and events.

Volunteer Party/Training on August 22

We have some great things down the road – now’s your chance to get involved! As a thank you, we’re throwing you a party.

Calling all volunteers!

Past, present, and future volunteers – this is for you

On Saturday, August 22, we’ll host a coffee and cake type reception for anyone interested in volunteering at the Gulfport Historical Society, whether you care to volunteer as a museum staffer or work on special events. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for all you do.

If you’ve never volunteered with us before, that’s OK – please come and talk to us. Feel free to ask questions to see if we’re a good fit for you.

Museum volunteers will get a refresher on procedures and all their questions answered. We’ll also review how to use the security system and the iPad.

The biggest need we have is bodies to keep the museum doors open to the public. When we reopen with our new exhibit in September, we’ll also open the doors to the Square Mullet Coffee Company, a cafe serving coffee, tea, soft drinks, and fresh baked goods. We need someone to run the Square Mullet; there may be an opportunity for income in the distant future with this position (to be clear, right now, it’s a volunteer position, but we have income goals and once we meet those goals, we will consider paying a manager). The person who runs it will start as a volunteer but will have a great deal of marketing latitude.

Ideally, people will volunteer for a shift at the Square Mullet and this will serve as double-duty to staff the museum. Please contact Nicole Spence at for more information, or see her at the August 22 meeting.

In addition to staffing the museum, we need help with special events and projects on site. As many of you know, we’ve revamped the museum’s interior, and our new curator, Daun Fletcher, is already hard at work on our second exhibit of the year, What We Did on Our Summer Vacation. This photo retrospective will explore how Gulfportians have recreated since the town’s first settlers arrived in the 19th century. In addition, Daun has a list of projects with which she would love your help.

Projects include: 

  • Creating a list  a list of all of the ‘artifact’ furniture the museum has in its collection, including a description and photo.
  • Searching for items to match our accession paperwork. Accession paperwork is a fancy name for the paper trail each item in our collection should have. Volunteers will simply match the item to the paperwork and leave the paperwork by the item. If it is a list, volunteers can leave all the items in one area with the file on top.
  • We have some beautiful old windows donated to us, and we plan to use them in the next exhibit. We could use help carefully cleaning those windows (just the glass).

Board member Rob Burkhart has given us the fantastic idea of a book of photos and stories from Gulfportians. We want to make this happen; to do so, though, we need manpower. Take a look at that to-do list and tell us if you can help:

1. We need someone to collect photographs – and the information about the photograph. (Who is in the picture, where and when the photograph was taken, were there any special circumstances surrounding the photograph.) This information needs to be paperclipped to the photograph. Also, the owner of the photograph needs to be documented so they receive credit.

2. Someone to research the photographs to ensure their accuracy.

3. Someone to take photographs of some present-day locations. Not every historical photograph needs a present day comparison, but places that have been altered could have a present day photograph for comparison.

4. We would like to have sections of the book that feature businesses or attractions no longer around, like Osgoods fish house, or the lumber mill on Tangerine, or the skating rink on 49th Street. Perhaps we will add a section on our famous murders, or a section about the trolley – show a map of the tracks and tell readers what happened to the cars. Are any of them still in existence? We will need someone to research this.

We have other chances to volunteer, too:

Shortly, we’ll announce our October lineup. As most of you know, last year Gulfport City Council declared the first-ever Gulfport History Month in October. This year, the second annual Gulfport History Month has a great lineup of events, and we can’t wait to share them with all our members. We will need volunteers to work all the events, so if you would prefer to help one time only, please let us know at the August 22 meeting.

Finally, we need typists. We have some wonderful oral histories, but we need someone to transcribe them. This you can do in your own home, at your own pace and is one of our most important jobs.

No matter what your schedule or desire, there’s something for everyone. See you August 22 at 4 p.m.!


Donate to Gulfport Historical Society for Free!

No, this isn’t a creative way to ask for volunteers – although we need those, too. It’s how we announce (with great pleasure) that the Gulfport Historical Society is now an official charity with Amazon Smiles.

What does that mean?

Well, it means if you click on this link your browser will open a new window and you’ll see your Amazon account, same as if you’d clicked on The difference is that Amazon will donate 0.5% of whatever you spend to us, every time you buy something on Amazon. We don’t see what you buy and we never see your payment information, so please click this link once and, from now on, we’ll get a couple bucks when you buy paper towels or dog toys or books.

So, what are you waiting for? Get shopping!

Oh, and if you care to share – and we truly hope you will – here’s the link to use

Thanks, and happy donating. Er, we mean shopping!

Thursday Road Trip to the Citrus Place

Citrus ManToday we travel just south of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to a place where you can still drink fresh orange juice. The Citrus Place, lauded as the “final piece of old Florida” by the Herald-Tribune, sells juice squeezed from oranges grown in one of the area’s last remaining groves.

Right now, the Tillett family has only frozen juice to sell – with orange season long gone, so, too, goes the fresh nectar. But Ben Tillett, now in his mid-eighties, started keeping the shop open through the summer a few years ago, although he admits profits are lower in the summer.

The Tillett family farmed the area before Ben Tillett quit teaching and devoted more energy to his you-pick citrus business. He’d started the business in the mid-1970s but gave it his full-time attention in 1979, and he’s never looked back. He can no longer allow people into the groves to pick the fruit, but he can offer them free juice samples, free orange ice cream samples, and a history lesson when they stop in the shop

Take a 20-minute road trip down to Terra Ceia and help an legacy Florida family keep pumping out local juice – and if Mr. Tillett’s working, stop and talk with him about oranges and juice. He loves visitors!

7200 US 19, Terra Ceia • (941) 722-6745 • Cash or check only