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Islander reminisces about construction of St. James Civic Association building

Woman’s father, brother built original structure for St. James Hobby Club

January 23, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

Fifty years ago, the father and brother of a woman who still lives on the island today built the St. James Civic Association building.

Diane Lane said she came to the island when she was 17 years old in September 1962 with her family. Her brother, who was 17 years older than her, first visited Pine Island in February 1956.

Although her parents purchased property on Pine Island in 1962, they did not move to the island permanently until her father retired as a stonemason seven years later. Both her father, Harold Beck, and brother, Sonny Beck, were stonemasons in Ohio.

"When we came in 1962, work was slow in Ohio for dad and my brother," Lane said.

Soon after arriving, Lane said her brother and father became involved with the ladies of the St. James Hobby Club. She said the ladies did their arts and crafts at the St. James Trailer Park community building.

"They wanted a building built, so they would have a permanent place for the Hobby Club," Lane said. "They met with my dad and my brother."

Fact Box

If You Go

What: St. James Civic Association

Big Breakfast, Beck Boat Rally,

Rummage and Vendor Sale

When: Saturday, Jan. 26, 8 a.m.

Where: St. James Civic Associa-

tion, 4th and Lemon streets

The ladies had money for a down payment to secure the loan and a gentleman on 8th Avenue in St. James City helped with some extra money that was needed to construct the building.

"It was amazing how the ladies were able to raise the funds to get the loan. My dad and my brother stepped right up and agreed to do the building," Lane said.

Sonny drew the first blueprint of the building on a brown grocery bag.

Lane said they dug the foundation for the St. James Civic Center in November and by the time they went home in the spring in 1963, the building was finished.

"My dad and my brother actually built the building," Lane said. "Dad and Sonny laid the block, a roofing company was hired up around Tampa."

Although her brother and father built the initial building, she said many additions have been made over the years.

Lane said the ladies started using the building right away, which later became known as the St. James Civic Association building.

"If you look at the floor you can tell the difference," Lane said, because a wall was removed to make the addition. "The floors are slightly different in height."

A special celebration will be had this weekend in honor of the St. James Civic Association building's anniversary.

A Big Breakfast, Beck Rally, Rummage and Vendor Sale will be held Saturday, Jan. 26. The festivities will kick off at 8 a.m. with a $6 all-you-can-eat eggs, sausage, toast, biscuits and gravy breakfast with coffee, tea and a cook's surprise. The sale and Beck Rally will continue until noon.

The St. James Civic Association is located at 3300 4th Ave.



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