With $290,000 state grant, which county will match, renovations of historic Edson Keith Farmhouse at Phillippi Estate Park to be completed

County Commission approves funding agreement with Florida’s Division of Historical Resources

Thanks to a $290,000 grant from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources — which Sarasota County will match — renovations of the historic Edson Keith Farmhouse at Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota can be completed, county staff reported in a memo to the County Commission for its regular meeting on Sept. 13.

The board members unanimously agreed to the execution of the grant agreement. That action came with their 5-0 vote of approval of their Sept. 13 Consent Agenda of routine business matters.

As is typical, none of them commented on the item since it was part of the Consent Agenda.

The grant is good through the end of June 2024, the memo said. Therefore, it noted, the renovations are expected to be completed by that time.

Located on the 60-acre park site, the memo explained, the farmhouse was built in 1916 by the original owner of the property, Edson Keith. He and his family occupied the structure, the memo said, while the Edson Keith Mansion was constructed. The farmhouse “later served as housing for farm hands and servants,” the memo added.

The county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department (PRNR) staff “has taken steps toward renovations of the Edson Keith Farmhouse systems and interior, but much work remains to be done,” the memo pointed out. The Friends of Sarasota County Parks — a nonprofit organization — shares the PRNR staff’s “goal of renovating the historic building,” the release added. Proceeds from the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, which is held on the grounds of Phillippi Estate Park, have been donated for that purpose, the memo said.

The grant agreement says the $290,000 will cover work such as repairs and the refinishing involving the floors, moldings, ceilings, walls and stairs; interior painting; repairs to or replacement of 13 doors, including hardware; repairs to and refinishing of 33 windows; the widening of two doors and removal of four doors for Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility (ADA); installation of a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; upgrading of the electrical and plumbing systems; installation of fire protection and security systems; construction of an ADA ramp; and installation of an ADA restroom and parking space.

After the farmhouse has been renovated, the memo continued, plans call for the development of an interpretative center on the first floor, which would be open to the public, as well as the inclusion of the farmhouse in tours of the Edson Keith Mansion.

Planning and design for the interpretative features, including displays and exhibits, “will be undertaken as a separate project after the renovation work has begun,” the memo explained. PRNR potentially could pursue a separate state grant for that work, the memo added.
County staff will utilize the second floor of the farmhouse, the memo noted.

In May 2018, the memo explained, county staff first submitted a grant application to the Florida Division of Historical Resources to pay for planning and design services for the farmhouse project. After receiving $50,000, which the county also had to match, an architectural firm completed the design and provided a formal opinion about the probable cost of the first-floor renovations, including accessible features, and parking, the memo pointed out.

Then, in 2020, PRNR staff collaborated with the county’s Office of Financial Management and the county’s Historical Resources Division in an application for another state grant. While that effort did not succeed, the memo said, the county reapplied for the funding in July 2021. On June 6, PRNR was notified of the award of the $290,000, the memo noted.

The PRNR staff’s first step will be proceeding with a procurement process to hire design professionals to update the earlier plans, to ensure they comply with the 2020 Florida Building Code, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The design team also would oversee the renovations, the memo said.

Further, a construction contractor will need to be hired, the memo added.