A Winter Park landmark came another step closer to a brighter future last Wednesday as officials from the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden celebrated the groundbreaking for the relocation of the historic Capen House to the museum’s grounds.
The groundbreaking marked a turning point in a community effort to save the home, which began in June when property owners nearly had it destroyed to make way for a new house after the City Commission voted to remove its historic designation.
The museum guaranteed the $650,000-relocation in late September when they announced that they would tap into their reserves to make up the difference of the $400,000 left over after donations from Winter Park residents.
“It’s kind of emotional to be honest; so much has been done by so many people to get to this point,” said Debbie Komanski, executive director of the museum. “We are fully prepared for the next 60 days to be absolutely jam-packed with activity getting the house moved over and beginning the process of bringing new life and a new future to that historic house.”
Across Lake Osceola at the Capen House site, workers are currently clearing the area around the house and its crawlspace underneath so that movers can begin the process of cutting the house into two pieces.
That will make way for the moving process, when the two pieces will be floated by barge over to the Albin Polasek Museum.
Movers should begin the process of building the ramp and barge to float the house across the lake at the end of this week.
“It’s very, very exciting because so much has transpired to get us to this point,” said Frank Roark, the general contractor for the relocation. “We started off early on where it seemed like there was such a steep hill to climb in terms of just the provisions and getting the financial support to make this happen in such a short period of time.”
But the most recent twist in the museum’s effort to save the house came when a Winter Park organization called Concerned Citizens for Historic Preservation Inc. sued the city of Winter Park for removing the historic designation in the first place, potentially hindering the relocation project.
Frank assured that recent events wouldn’t stop the house from moving.
“It doesn’t change our plans in any way for moving the house,” Roark said.
“I would prefer to see that the group that brought the suit could work something out with the city and that could be handled in a different way, but it’s not going to interfere with our plans for the move.”
Komanski said the move itself will be completed by mid-December, meeting the deadline of Dec. 31 set by the Capen House property owners. The museum still needs $150,000 for the second phase, which includes setting the house’s foundation and putting the two pieces of the home back together.
Komanski remained hopeful that the project would succeed despite the lawsuit against the city.
“We’re acting in good faith,” she said. “We’re pressing forward. We have a deadline to meet and we’re going to meet it, and hope that this will all be resolved soon.”
A third phase is also planned, which will also take care of lightning, furnishing and creating walkways to the house.
“It’s going to bring joy forevermore,” former Board of Trustees member Ann Polasek said. “Historic (minded) people will have one more reason to come to Winter Park.”