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Miami Springs Historical Museum plans to reopen at Stafford Park


Special to the Miami Herald

The Miami Springs Historical Museum signed a contract last week to move into its new digs: a storage shed at Stafford Park that once housed maintenance supplies.

“We are happy to have a roof over our heads,” said Yvonne Shonberger, a volunteer with the city’s historical society, the group that oversees the museum. “But we could use some help.”

Shonberger dawned a paintbrush and a broom over the weekend to start sprucing up the 900-square-foot shed that needs some tender, loving care before the doors tentatively open next May.

The “wish list,” she said, includes potential donors who may be able to share their time, talents and resources for a good cause: to preserve the city’s history. To start, Shonberger said, the museum needs:

• a draftsman to help draft plans to change the use of the building;

• a handyman skilled with flooring who can lay an epoxy-based paint on the ground;

• an alarm, possibly with security cameras, as well as a sprinkler system;

• an air conditioner;

• a hurricane-, impact-resistant front door

Once the museum is code-compliant, then volunteers will be needed to help move its treasures from its former location at 26 Westward Dr., about a block from city hall, where it has been for nearly six years. Before that, the museum was housed for about 20 years on the second floor of Stadnick’s Pharmacy, on the Circle.

Shonberger diplomatically credits her colleagues, local grass-roots volunteers, for selflessly safeguarding the city’s history.

“We have an original Platte map from the ’20s that was signed by the city’s founder, Glenn Curtiss,” Shonberger said. “We also have two hanging replica airplanes and other one-of-a-kind memorabilia unique to our city.”

A portion of the museum will house a replica bedroom of Michigan-based cereal-company founder, Dr. John Kellogg, who once owned a former sanitarium at 201 Curtiss Pkwy., now known as Fair Havens.

Until the new museum opens, the old location will remain open on weekends.

The main reason for the move is because it runs on what Shonberger calls a “shoe-string” budget and can no longer afford the $1,800-a-month rent. Although the new location will be rent-free, museum officials foresee a struggle until they can get the former shed converted into something more hospitable.

The new location is across the street from Miami Springs Middle School and adjacent to the school system’s administration building. The front doors will open up into the park.

“We would like to thank Mayor Zavier Garcia and the council for helping put us here,” said Shonberger, who added that neighboring Virginia Gardens also helped.

Last month, village leaders there cut a check to the museum for $500.

“We are also donating another $500 to the U.S. Marine Memorial on Curtiss Parkway,” Virginia Gardens Mayor Spencer Deno said.

The museum plans to help restore the faded memorial to honor area veterans.

“You can’t put enough importance on our history,” said Councilman Michael Windrem, who cast a yes vote at a recent council meeting to help the museum start a new chapter in its life.

Windrem is the current liaison for the city’s historic preservation board. Back in 1996, he earned his Eagle Scout credentials by giving historical walking tours about town.

“The museum’s preservation efforts are important to the long-term security of this community,” Windrem said.

The museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To learn more about the museum or to volunteer, call 305-884-4406.

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