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Date of Issue: May 07, 2008

Historic Cortez store gets big boost from booster

The Marie Selby Foundation of Sarasota has again come to the rescue of historic preservation in Cortez.

The $62,000 grant to put a face on the historic Burton store in Cortez follows a previous grant that helped move the building from the location where it had been stored for many years.

Announcing the grant, an elated Roger Allen said it would be enough to finish restoration of the old building’s exterior and porches, and add wheelchair ramps.

Allen is Manatee County manager of Cortez historic sites, which are being restored in a program under the auspices of the county’s clerk of the circuit court, Robert “Chips” Shore, whose department is in charge of historic matters.

The building is on a concrete foundation — also provided with money from the Selby Foundation — on the grounds of the Florida Maritime Museum at the east end of the historic fishing village. The site work and landscaping is finished at the grounds where the store has joined the 1912-built schoolhouse, now the museum.

Next will come finishing of the store’s interior, which Allen said will be “all green systems as far as is possible,” including electrical, plumbing, air conditioning and controls and solar power.

The new grant brings to $130,000 the total from Selby for the store project, Allen said. The earlier $68,000 provided, in additon to the foundation, the cost to move the store, and beginning restoration of the shell.

The store is one of the earliest buildings put up in Cortez, built by William Bratten in 1896. He leased it to Jesse Burton, who ran a general store and post office there and it naturally progressed with the times to become a community center and hub of village activity. Buton’s family lived upstairs.

A couple of rooms were added as rentals in 1900, then in 1906 the building was expanded, becoming the Albion Inn, with the original store attached.

In 1921 a hurricane destroyed much of Cortez, sparing the Albion, the store and the brick school.

Those facilities gave shelter to Cortezians while they rebuilt their lives. The store was rescued by the village historical society when the Albion was junked to make way for the U.S. Coast Guard Station Cortez, and stayed for years on blocks across from Bell Fish Co. until being moved to the museum.

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