Maritime museum prepares for centennial celebration

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

History abounds at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez. The museum has several family-friendly activities and programs, as well as a centennial celebration planned for November. Islander Photo: Mark Young

Nov. 10 is an important day in Cortez as the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., celebrates the 100th birthday of the Cortez schoolhouse, the museum’s home.

According to FMM director Karen Riley-Love, the museum is planning a family-friendly extravaganza to celebrate.
The schoolhouse has witnessed almost as much community history as the items in the museum.

Riley-Love said the schoolhouse still means a lot to the community as an educational institution, the host site of community square dances, children’s plays and performances, and as a shelter during the 1921 hurricane.

The museum is seeking volunteers for the celebration, according to FMM curator Amara Cocilovo. Food and arts and crafts vendors, as well performers for narratives of schoolhouse history are being sought. Cocilovo can be reached at 941-708-6120.

FMM soon will be introducing new programs, such as a boat-building program, which is at the very heart of Cortez’s maritime history.

Riley-Love, in a press release, said families and community members will have the opportunity to build boats and learn boat-related skills in the historic Pillsbury Boat Shop.

The program will include building a “Puddle Duck” sailboat, “Skin on Frame” kayak, paddles and oars; converting a canoe into a sailboat and more.

Riley-Love said the driving force behind the program is to inspire confidence, build skills, get people on the water and make boating more accessible to families and community members.

FMM also is partnering with Manatee Village Historical Park, Palmetto Historical Park and the Manatee County Agricultural Museum to celebrate the opening of the Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton.

And FMM now features a butterfly garden and has begun offering Geraldson Community Farm shares. The farm is part of the community-supported agriculture program that promotes farmers.

The museum also continues to encourage new volunteers for its growing Friends of the Museum program, and donations of time, tools or items of historical significance are always welcome.

For more information on FMM and the centennial celebration, contact Riley-Love at 941-708-6121.

The Islander is the official media sponsor of the centennial celebration.

Published in: on October 2, 2012 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  

The Cortezian

Attached is the latest issue of “The Cortezian,” the newsletter of the Cortez Village Historical Society. There is a lot happening in Cortez!

CVHS plans to premier a new film on the “Cortez Kitchen” in October. See the note from President Sam Bell in the newsletter.

A new Cortez Family Life Museum is being planned in a restored cottage that has been moved to the F.I.S.H. Preserve. Check the newsletter for items you may have that could be loaned to the new museum. There is also a short survey that you should fill out and return so you will have input on the planning.

Coming soon, on November 10, 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm is the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Cortez School House. The event, held on the campus of the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez is to celebrate 100 years of the Cortez School House and the many roles it played in the community. It will also serve as a fundraiser for a boat-themed playground to be built on the grounds. It will consist of exhibits, music, activities, food and crafts. Outside there will be Reading, Writing and ‘Arithmetic activity stations for children. Former pupils will be identified with a nametag, and the museum will also be ordering commemorative pins.

If you attended the Cortez School please send us your name and address (snail and email).

Plans are underway for the 31st annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival on February 16-17, 2013. The theme will be “Better Fish to Fry.”

If you are on Facebook, be sure to find the page for F.I.S.H. – Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage and “like” it to keep up with F.I.S.H. related news.


Cortez Village Historical Society

PO BOX 663

Cortez, FL 34215

Web page:


The Cortezian 10 2012.pdf

Published in: on September 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Items

Manatee River Journal – Thursday June 1, 1916 – page 4

Published in: on September 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cortez loses member of ‘Forgotten Generation’

Calvin Edison Bell, 82, died Aug. 31. He was born Nov. 14, 1929, in Cortez Village to Aaron Parx Bell and Jessie Blanche Fulford Bell.

Mr. Bell was part owner of A.P. Bell Fish Company and a proud commercial fisherman. He also was an avid collector of all things nautical. Most of his years were spent on the surrounding waters or working on his many boats in the village.

Mr. Bell served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Upon completion of his duty, he returned to the village and way of life he loved.

He often devoted his energy and vigilance toward educating Manatee County Code Enforcement officials about the differences between salvaged marine equipment and what the officers often considered old junk.

He also had a deep appreciation for God’s many creatures, raising greyhounds in his younger years and, in more recent times, he fed and cared for wild birds and feral cats.

Known to be strong and healthy, he was as hard worker and could typically be found dragging pilings around his yard, moving nets from one corner to the other or scraping and cleaning boat bottoms. He spent most of his days keeping up a fleet of historic wooden fishing boats.

When diagnosed with bone cancer two years ago, he continued to ride his bike daily to the shoreline to keep up with what was going on among his friends the village.

As his health deteriorated in the past month, one family member said his dear friend Junior Guthrie told him everything was going to be all right.

In good humor and like a true Cortezian, he replied, “How ya reckon?”

A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at Manasota Mermorial Park in Oneco.

Calvin Bell is survived by brothers Walter, Chester and Doug and a host of family members throughout Cortez and beyond.

Published in: on September 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Miss Pearl McDonald marries Charles G. Lewis

From the Tampa Tribune Friday July 28, 1916

Published in: on August 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Schools Open in Fine New Building

Thursday, October 9, 1913  Tampa Tribune Page: 12

Published in: on August 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm  Comments (1)  

20,000 Pounds of Fine Kingfish Received in One Shipment Here

From The Evening Independent – August 17, 1916

Published in: on August 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hunter’s Point Hotel

Newspaper ad from about 1890.



Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Creating a home for Cortez history



From the Islander Bystander – July 29, 1993

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Julian Richard Riddick

Mr. Julian Richard Riddick age 74, of Mt. Airy, North Carolina passed away Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at his home.

He was born May 27, 1938 in Bradenton, FL to the late Julian W. Riddick and Edith Maurine Riddick. Mr. Riddick was retired from the Florida Power and Light Company and was a member of the North Main Church of Christ. Surviving are his wife, Anna Dean Fulford Riddick of the home, two sons and a daughter-in-law, Lance and Robin Riddick, White Plains, MD, and Duane Riddick of the home, three grandsons, Caleb, Joshua and Isaac Riddick all of White Plains, MD; a special friend and neighbor, Teddy Stevens.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Riddick was preceded in death by a sister, Rita Neville.

A celebration of life service will be held at 3:30 PM Saturday, July 7, 2012 at North Main Church of Christ, 2011 N. Main St., Mt. Airy. The family will receive friends at the church from 3:00 until the time of the service.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Christian Home and Bible School, 301 W. 13th Ave. Mount Dora, FL 32757-1017. Online condolences may be made at

Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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