Vista is a 14-acre area remaining of the land where Cummer Industries had its headquarters, a sawmill, and an executive retreat. It is located near Refuge headquarters. Friends life members Sandra Smith and Linda Roe Alexander donated the property to the Refuge in 2011, with a life tenancy agreement. The property includes several iconic structures that the consultants are now evaluating for restoration potential and, possibly, for eventual public access.
The history of the Lower Suwannee Refuge is integrally linked with the timber industry of our region. The Refuge was established in the late 1970s to protect the wild plants and animals that depend on the healthy habitat of the Suwannee watershed. Much of the land that is now the Refuge had previously been lumbered.
With funding from a grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, Friends hired the architectural firm Bender and Associates to conduct historical research and perform a structural assessment on the Vista property.
The consultant's historian has toured the residence, has been locating and reviewing pertinent materials, and has been meeting with people who have inside knowledge of the property.
In January, Friends received its first report from the consultants, including the historical data and measured drawings of the site and buildings.
The family is making the Vista property available for Friends members to visit during the afternoon of the Annual Meeting on Saturday, February 29.