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Schneider discusses Pineland’s historic buildings and landmarks in parlor chat

December 12, 2012
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Ruby Gill House was full of individuals interested in the history of Pineland Tuesday morning during the second event in the parlor chat series.

Gladys Schneider, a founding member of the Museum of the Island, led a 90-minute discussion of some of the historic buildings and landmarks from the Pineland area.

She began that discussion by providing the audience with some background information about herself.

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Gladys Schneider, a founding member of the Museum of the Island, presented the second Pineland Parlor Chat Tuesday morning at the Ruby Gill House in Pineland to commemorate Pineland’s 100th anniversary.

Schneider said she was an historic preservation consultant, which included historic surveys in such places like Naples, Lee County, Punta Gorda and Sarasota.

She said she developed a methodology to do preservation plans, which eventually led her into the historic district, which was a national register district.

She became involved in the Museum of the Island after Elaine Jordan contacted her. Schneider said when Jordan interviewed people for her book, they would giver her things, which grew into a pretty large collection in her garage.

"So she wanted to start a museum," she said.

The old library eventually became the home of the museum after about two years of restoration taking place. The museum finally opened in 1988.

The University of Florida, Schneider said, was the curator the museum's first exhibit about the Calusa.

Her conversation began with a discussion about the 1880s because she was interested in how people arrived to the island.

"You had to come by boat because it was an island," she said, adding that individuals took the railroads as far south as they could before they jumped on the steamboats

The first steamboat, Schneider said, was set up in Fort Myers and was named Gladys1. She said the boats carried just about everything to the island.

"The boats would come out of Fort Myers and stop in St. James City," Schneider said.

Stringfellow Road was built in 1928 to provide easier travels from the north to the south end of the island. Harry Stringfellow, Schneider said, was on the Lee County Commission and it would take him all day to travel from St. James City to Fort Myers to attend meetings.

"He got the road built," she said.

The various styles of houses were also discussed during the parlor chat. The quickest way to set things up, Schneider said, was thatched houses. The cracker cabin floor plan was also another style that had one room and a porch on either side of the home, as well as doors on each side and a fireplace and chimney.

The single pen and double pen cabin was another style of house.

The Ruby Gill house, Schneider said, was a cracker cabin with an addition of a kitchen. The home, she said, was built in 1924. It eventually turned into an I house, which is one room deep, two rooms wide, two stories with a center staircase, front porch and kitchen.

She ended the chat with a description of the new display at the museum that she encouraged everyone to visit. Schneider said it turned out that the volunteer fire department had a suitcase of old documents, photos and newspaper clippings that they added to two flat boards where everyone can enjoy the photos and read the material.

Schneider said the volunteer fire department did not have an ambulance, due to the funeral homes running the ambulance. Once the funeral homes were subject to benefits and labor laws, as well as paying minimum wage in the 1960s, they decided they did not want to run the ambulances anymore.

A hearse was donated to the Pine Island Fire Department to use as an ambulance. Once of the volunteers would get into the hearse, Schneider said, and drive them to Lee Memorial Hospital and then stay until the patients were ready to be driven back home.



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