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Mound House secures next step in historic registry designation

May 30, 2018
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fort Myers Beach's "jewel" is on its way to getting national recognition.

On Thursday, the Florida National Register Review Board unanimously voted to formally nominate the Mound House to Keeper of the National Register.

Mound House Director Alison Geisen, Friends of the Mound House President Becky Werner, and Ceel Spuhler, member of the Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board, attended the meeting in Tallahassee.

Article Photos

Ceel Spuhler and Becky Werner traveled to Tallahassee with Director Alison Geisen to attend the meeting. Contributed photo.

"The members of the review board were so excited the Mound House had applied," Geisen said. "They had visited. They were fans."

The Mound House's application will be sent on for federal review. Geisen said the fact the application was heard at the state level was a good sign: "Very few that get up there don't get sent on," she said.

The board determined the site met three out of four criteria for both state and local significance. Geisen has been in the preservation field for 15 years, and says the approval meant the Mound House had a good chance with the final step for approval.

Being on the National Register of Historic Places will give the Mound House exposure on a national level for the treasure it is, but also comes with some financial benefits, too. Once approved, it will be eligible for federal financial incentives for historic preservation efforts, Geisen said. It also provides some protections from activities that could result in damage or loss to the historical site.

It's not the first time fans of the Mound House have tried to get the site registered, but now it's on its way to having its name on the official list.

"It was wonderful to see the board's reaction, see how excited and complementary they were," Geisen said.

Spuhler credits the approval to the depth of work that Geisen put into the application to prove the Mound House deserved its place on the registry. The three women sat through a few other applications, some with lots of work put into them and detailed presentations, Spuhler said, and the board had to turn down a "marvelous" depot building because it lacked the criteria needed to gain the designation.

When it came time for the board to review the Mound House, Spuhler said two of the members had visited before and were thrilled to see the application. Geisen was able to get up and speak on behalf of the application, and she talked about all the years of hard work Fort Myers Beach residents and Mound House volunteers had put into making the historic site what it is today.

"I think the accomplishment of what this means to the town is just wonderful," Spuhler said. "I'm still flying high!"

The Mound House should get its answer from the Keeper of the National Registry by the end of the summer.



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