This year’s holiday exhibit at the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village focuses on the history of each of its nine historical buildings. The exhibit, ““Trees, Timelines, & Special Memories,” runs through the first week of January.


After doing extensive research on each of the village’s buildings, volunteers found that most of them were used for several different purposes before they were moved to the village. “We found fascinating to discover each building’s complete history,” said Board Member Gayle Pence, who headed up the project.


For example, Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room, now one of the favorite buildings in the Village, actually had several lives. First it was built to serve as a gas station for the old Bailey store; instead it had to serve as a temporary store when Bailey’s was destroyed in the hurricane of 1926. Soon the new store was built, and the Tea Room could be just that, serving tea and refreshments to people arriving on and leaving on the ferry. The refreshments were prepared at the nearby Island Inn and brought to the Tea Room each day. While Miss Charlotta, sister to island icon Frank Bailey’s wife, dispensed her sweets and lemonade, energy, and good humor, the men played miniature golf behind the building – on the first golf course on the island.


Once the ferry was relocated and no longer landed at the Tea Room’s location, the Tea Room was closed and later became home to school teachers, then to the butcher who worked at the Bailey store, and later to others. The structure did not have a bathroom until 1955.


Timelines will be on exhibit in each of the village’s nine buildings. The holiday trees and exhibits will reflect the items found on the timelines. Pence said this holiday exhibit will offer a whole new layer of island history never before shared at the village.


The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In accordance with the city of Sanibel’s regulations, masks are required inside the buildings. Full guided tours are available only if reserved in advance for groups of no more than six, depending on docent availability. This precautionary measure is due to COVID-19. “We hope to be able to resume our regular tours, at 10:30 and 1:30, as soon as possible and within safety guidelines,” Alfino said.


The Sanibel Historical Village is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG ARTS) and there is handicap access. Admission is $10 for adults over 18. Members and children are free. The village has handicap access to all but one building, the tiny Post Office. For more information, call (239) 472-4648 during museum hours or visit