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Woman's Club needs a nip, tuck

The historic building requires about $47,000 worth of work and is asking for help - a first.

Published February 8, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Built in 1929, the St. Petersburg Woman's Club building on Snell Isle still strikes the eye as a strong fortress.

But it is a case of deceiving appearances, its members say, because the structure, which has for years been a hospitable venue for wedding receptions, parties and proms, is showing its age in subtle ways.

"The maintenance things that have taken place have been done on an emergency basis," said Becky Stern, club president.

The most pressing problems are restoring windows and doors and repainting the building, which carries historic designations on city, state and national levels.

The last painting was in 1997, Stern said, and the water seal has deteriorated.

The work will be expensive: about $35,000 for the window and door work and $12,000 for the painting, Stern estimates.

The club is planning fundraising activities and is making an appeal to the community for help.

"I don't ever remember going and asking for money," Stern said.

The club has 197 members from neighborhoods throughout the city who contribute to the community, providing 40,000 community service hours per year, Stern said.

Its current project is Operation Smile, a statewide effort providing support for youngsters undergoing surgery for facial deformities or cleft palates. Club members make hospital gowns for children.

They also put together supplies for children staying at the Salvation Army's Sallie House. They have sponsored youngsters who couldn't afford Scouting camps and sent care packages to troops in Iraq.

It costs about $100,000 a year to run the building at 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE, Stern said. Income from rentals typically lets the club break even in terms of operating expenses, but virtually nothing is left over for capital improvements, Stern said.

The Snell Isle Property Owners Association is helping, having donated $3,000 toward beautification - specifically, the paint job.

"It's the first thing you see when you come over to (Snell Isle)," said Barbara Heck, president of the association.

Heck said the club is not associated only with Snell Isle.

"I don't think there's a person who hasn't attended a function," she said. "It's pretty much touched everyone in the city."

[Last modified February 8, 2006, 01:15:22]

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