Tucked neatly between the FISH Boatworks and the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez you will find the Cortez Cultural Center, a little white and green 1940’s bungalow that is dedicated to preserving the history and the families of the historic fishing Village of Cortez. In 2009 the City of Bradenton Beach donated the Monroe Cottage to the Cortez Village Historical Society, also known as CVHS, who operates and maintains the center.
With a price tag of $8,000 it was moved from its location on the island to its new home in Cortez in 2010. Renovations began immediately and during the 2016 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival the Cortez Cultural Center had finally had its Grand Opening, boasting artifacts and photographs of a bygone era of Florida’s past, tracing its rich history from the founders in the 1880’s right up to modern day.
In line with the “It takes a village” mindset that stirs at the heart of this little village, next to the cottage you will find a community garden full of herbs and seasonal vegetables that are free for the taking for local residents and visitors alike. On entering the cottage, you’ll be greeted by the comforting sound of creaky wooden floors, the smell of pine and gracious volunteers from the village. Constantly gathering new material the displays are ever evolving with photographs, documents and artifacts donated by locals and neighboring organizations like the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH for short) and the Florida Maritime Museum. New displays are always being developed, and this fall CVHS is planning exhibits on the Fish Houses of Cortez, the Albion Inn (which was the center of social and business activity in Cortez at the turn of the century) and the Cortez Trailer Park.
True to their spirit of community, they hold picnics and potlucks for all to enjoy throughout the year, just like the community fish fry’s that were held at the old fire station when I was a kid. Some of these get-togethers are held at the Monroe Cottage and some are held at the Miller Dock, a community dock up the road a bit, just shy of Star Fish Company. The food at these potlucks are some of the best home cooking you’ll find anywhere, so you may want to follow the Cortez Cultural Center on Facebook so you won’t miss them!
CVHS will be holding a “Christmas in July” fundraiser this Saturday the 22nd, a yard sale made up of donated items from throughout the community. Like any event in Cortez there has to be food, so hot dogs and such will also be available for those who want to shop or hang out for a spell, wander around and explore the cultural centers’ offerings or just visit with the locals. Be sure to stop by and check it out, buy some hot dogs and needful things to help support this all-volunteer organization.
The Cortez Cultural Center is located at 11655 Cortez Road West and is open from 12-4 Thursday thru Saturday or by appointment. Admission and parking are free, and so are the herbs and veggies from the garden. You can find out more about CVHS and the Cortez Cultural Center by visiting their website at www.cortezvillagehistoricalsociety.org Better yet…stop by for a visit.
photos supplied by Rose Lipke