MARCO ISLAND — What’s in a name? Residents Bill and Myrtle Rose will soon be the ones to tell as their significant donation to the Marco Island Historical Museum announced Tuesday evening will give them naming rights to what is currently being called the Living History Hall, the third and final building planned for the museum complex on South Heathwood Drive.
Rose pledged $750,000 to the museum bringing the Marco Island Historical Society ever closer to their $4.5 million fundraising goal.
Rose, who owns Marco River Rose Marina, Rose’s Meat Packing company in Barrington, Ill., and several other northern businesses, saw an opportunity to give back to the community by helping reach the goal of building a museum complex. He also has pledged $500,000 to the Marco Island Branch Library to build Rose Hall, which is currently being rebid by Collier County.
“It shows the generosity of Bill and Myrt (Rose). There are not a lot of people in this economy writing checks of this magnitude,” said Craig Woodward, Rose’s attorney, friend and member of the museum construction board.
Woodward may have been understating the situation when he said “Bill is not a publicity hound.”
Bill Rose said he didn’t want to tell his story, at least not yet, but the cat was already out of the bag. Bill Perdichizzi of the Marco Island Historical Society announced the generosity and said it “feels marvelous” to have come so far after more than five years of planning a museum.
Perdichizzi said several Islanders may have missed the announcement that Rose brought the museum’s fund to $4.1 million Tuesday as the sun was setting. Attendance began with about 50 people who slowly dwindled away along with the drop in the late afternoon temperature at the historical society’s outdoor “Beerial.”
Rose’s contribution was formally acknowledged following the MIHS Brew and Time Capsule “Beerial” Ceremony at the museum site next door to the Marco Island Library on South Heathwood Drive. Brew masters Randy Mosher and Keith Howard brewed a special ale for the occasion, which took visitors back in time through the making of the Marco Island Historical Society up through the current status of the museum.
Rose has called Marco Island home for several decades, traveling on and off the Island to his home in Illinois since 1957.
“I came here the same year as Stan (Gober), only he stayed and I came and went,” said Bill Rose, 82.
Core Construction is building the museum’s foundation, completing the footers and stem walls and preparing to lay the slab as early as Tuesday.
“With two large buildings to lay the foundation for, including one 8,100 square-foot and one 3,200 square-foot, that’s quite a lot of concrete to pour ... Soon we’ll be putting up the walls,” Perdichizzi said, adding that he was enthusiastic about the progress.
“The society started with less than 100 members, $75,000 and high hopes. It feels marvelous to have come this far,” he said.
The goal is to have the museum open to the public by January 2010 with at least some preliminary exhibits, Perdichizzi reported. By then, two out of the three buildings in the complex, which is designed in the style of a Calusa Indian village surrounded by water, is scheduled to be complete.
The final building, made possible by Rose, will likely be able to be built at the same time now, saving about $25,000 per month and adding to the efficiency of the project, Woodward said.
“The museum construction is flying. A lot of sub contractors are hurting right now, so they’re working like crazy,” he said.
Collier County Museum Director Ron Jamro is also currently working on exhibit design plans with contractor Randell McCaulley.
“This is a combined effort. Our big portion of the work was to get these buildings built and now we’ll work hand in hand with the county on the inside of these buildings,” Perdichizzi said on behalf of MIHS.
Jamro said the artist’s ideas, sketched and described by McCaulley, will serve as “talking points.”
“We’ll see how the historical society feels about these ideas so far and we’ll soon get input from the crowd. That’s the beauty of having this society involved at this early stage,” Jamro said.
The Calusa area will be biggest, with emphasis on the archaeology from that era and then carrying the story through to modern Marco Island.
McCaulley described the Calusa Village in the conceptual design text: “The village will be constructed as an island that the visitor will circle around.”
McCaulley’s preliminary plans include mannequin figures portraying Calusa functions such as canoe travel, net making, hunting, cooking, home construction, clothing, warfare and social structure, including the levels of society from slave to king.
Jamro and McCaulley will present the preliminary exhibit designs to the Island at 7 p.m., March 3, at Mackle Park. Rose and the Marco Island Historical Society will likely announce the name of the third museum building by that time as well.