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23 seek piece of history

A log cabin built in 1936 must be moved before a developer can build houses on the plot. The problem: Who will get it?

Published September 19, 2003

LUTZ - One of Lutz's oldest institutions and one of its newest are vying for a 67-year-old prize: a historic log cabin.

The new contender is Learning Gate Community School, which completed a 30-acre campus on Hanna Road last year. The school's curriculum revolves around environmental topics. It proposes to re-create a working homestead of bygone Florida, with the house as a centerpiece and students as tenders.

The old institution is the Lutz Civic Association, which boasts a mailing address of P.O. Box 1, Lutz. The Civic Association proposes to relocate the house near Lutz's old downtown and use it as a combination museum, nature classroom and meeting house.

They were among 23 potential recipients to submit written requests for the cabin.

"I'm sure we've got at least four real solid prospects," said developer Vin Hoover, who is to choose the winner.

Hoover must move the log house somewhere before he can develop a dozen pricey houses, including his own, on the shore of Lake Byrd just west of Avila off Indian Mound Road. The Hillsborough County Commission required in Hoover's rezoning that he move the house in good shape. Whoever gets it must make it suitable for habitation.

The applicants include several property owners within a few miles of the site, who propose to use the house for an antique shop or home.

But Hoover appears to favor applicants who would provide the cross-shaped house more public exposure, particularly non-profit groups that might entitle Hoover to a tax benefit.

Both Learning Gate and the Civic Association are such groups. So is the city of Temple Terrace, which proposed to use the cabin as a nature center on 5 riverfront acres called the West River Preserve. And so is the Pioneer Florida Museum in Dade City, which proposed to add the cabin to its collection of 10 historical buildings.

Hoover and Parviz Moosavi, the county's historic preservation planner, both favor someplace in northwest Hillsborough County. "The less travel distance, the better," Moosavi said.

That pains Hoover somewhat, because Sherry Meid of Land O'Lakes offered to pay the moving costs if she got the house. That could save Hoover some $45,000.

On Monday, he asked Hillsborough's Historic Resources Review Board to state its preferences in the next few weeks regarding who should get the log house, but the board took no action on the request.

The board did hear two members of the Lutz Civic Association, including Ron Stoy, who headed up an all-volunteer crew that built a replica of Lutz's 1915-era train depot.

"We think we've got a perfect fit," Stoy said.

Oris Patrick brought a poster pitching her woodsy property in Carrollwood as home for the house. But afterward, she said, "It appears the Lutz Civic Association has the inside track. I don't think the others stand a chance."

But Patrick hadn't seen competing proposals such as Learning Gate's and Temple Terrace's.

Patti Girard, the Learning Gate principal, wrote that her students would re-create a frontier settlement through their studies.

"In addition to the cabin, there would be a garden with crops which were grown in the area, a collection of dooryard citrus trees of sour orange, lemon and lime trees from nongrafted stock, some of which is already on our property, and a small collection of farm animals featuring perhaps a cracker calf," she wrote.

Contacted Tuesday, Girard said she hadn't received a response to her request for the house. But she said, "It would fit perfectly in here."

- Bill Coats can be reached at 813 269-5309 or

[Last modified September 18, 2003, 10:36:32]

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