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Fundraiser held to help restore Chinsegut Hill


Published:   |   Updated: November 17, 2013 at 08:01 PM

Join the party tonight and Saturday for the inaugural "Chinsegut Hill Celebration"!

Hosted by the Friends of Chinsegut Hill, the 2-day fundraiser event starts tonight with a dinner reception and a silent auction. Tomorrow, come back for an arts and crafts show, family fun activities, music, and more food and beverages.

The event will raise funds for the ongoing restoration of the 154-year old Chinsegut Hill manor in Brooksville.

Christie Anderberg, executive director of the Friends of Chinsegut Hill, said, "To me, Chinsegut Hill represents old Florida and all the pioneers who settled in such a wild and harsh environment. Moving families, animals, and household goods to old Hernando County, and then surviving wars, epidemics, hurricanes, freezing crops, the Great Depression, and having the determination to stay and make this home. The early owners were county commissioners, soldiers, and business owners, all part of the beginnings of Hernando County."

But, Chinsegut Hill and its need for restoration was almost forgotten until recent times.

"The property was unknown for such a long time, and so close to being sold as surplus land by the state as late as last November. The risk of private sale was that the outcome could very well have prohibited any public use or access," said Anderberg.

Efforts to restore and reopen the historic Brooksville manor to the public has been drawing wide reaching community support.

"We, as a non-profit, membership based organization are working with the county. This is now truly a public/private partnership. We are not asking the county for money. We have been fundraising, grant writing and gratefully accepting donations from our membership base for the past four years to make this happen. The outpouring of support from volunteers and business owners has been incredible. They see a need, and they are giving their time or services to help make this happen," said Anderberg. "The county is helping us through marketing. We have Master Gardeners and trail volunteers who have been helping with the grounds. Even through the hottest summer days, a few hours here or there has really made a difference. Of course now that the professionals have started the massive renovation on the manor house, we get to watch, from a safe distance, and wait for the day it will be finished."

Once open to the public, the manor house and grounds will be a new community resource for tourism in Hernando County, along with being available to host weddings and other community events.

The need for continued support for this historic Brooksville landmark is great.

"We hope people will continue to support us in any way they can, whether in time or tax deductible donations. We want people to continue to be excited about being involved in what will be a successful community effort. While we have a large $1.5 million grant to do repairs, restoration, research on the manor house, the funds cannot be used for electricity, insurance, property maintenance, and equipment. We need to build our basic reserves so that we can continue on our mission," said Anderberg.

The first annual Chinsegut Hill Celebration will start tonight with a members-only reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Non-members can join at the door for just $20. The reception will feature a silent auction, music and refreshments. Attendees will enjoy foods from local restaurants such as Pearl in the Grove and Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant, and appetizers prepared by Hernando High School's student chefs.

Auction items include an airboat fishing trip for two, a two-day stay at the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada, artwork from local artists, a floral arrangement from Westover's Flowers & Gifts, a spa facial, manicure and pedicure from White Daisy Salon & Spa, a $50 dinner certificate from Papa Joe's Restaurant, and a book/CD combo from Brooksville author and storyteller Jerry Cowling.

"We have incredibly talented artisans donating wonderful items for our auction. I'm so impressed with the beauty of each piece. The volunteer energy to create this wonderful event is phenomenal," said Anderberg.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the celebration continues with an arts and craft show and family activities, such as pioneer games and a commemorative photo shoot with period costumes and a horse-drawn carriage. The event is free admission.

The event will be held on the grounds of the historic Chinsegut Hill, located at 22495 Chinsegut Hill Road in Brooksville.

For more info, contact the Friends of Chinsegut Hill at (352) 799-5400, email friendsofchinseguthill@gmail.com, or visit www.chinseguthillcelebration.org.

Hernando Today correspondent Heather Francis can be reached at toheatherfrancis@gmail.com.

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