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Historic cottage sought for Burt Reynolds museum


The 110-year-old Stambaugh Cottage, a historic pioneer home now moored off Peanut Island, could be part of the proposed new Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theater at Burt Reynolds Park on U.S. 1.

“We are just in the talking phase right now. Our hope is that the owners would donate the building,” said Doug Rill, a Palm Beach resident who is chair of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre.

But the age and condition of the building doesn’t make the plan worth pursuing, said Eric Call, head of the county’s parks and recreation department.

In 2011, the Palm Beach County Commission agreed to lease to the film and theater institute at no charge a vacant, 1-acre parcel in Burt Reynolds Park. The agreement calls for the institute to raise money to build, operate and maintain a 5,000-square-foot museum.

The lease has not been signed. County officials are still waiting for a financial and construction plan from Burt Reynolds Institute, said county parks and recreation director Eric Call.

“We want a new building. I’m concerned if an old building falls into disrepair, it would fall on the county for repairs. It would be different if this was an organization like Morikami (Museum & Japanese Gardens) that has a large endowment,” Call said.

The two-story cottage, with a footprint of about 36-feet-by-40-feet, was built about 1903 on the north end of Palm Beach, now the location of the Palm Beach Country Club. The cottage once was the home of Orrel Stambaugh, a settler from Oklahoma who helped build the area’s roads with a crew and a mule team.

The cottage, made of Dade County pine and cypress, has no termite damage, said Claudia Adams, office manager at Vance Construction. The building has been owned since 2011 by the West Palm Beach-based company when owner Jim Vance covered the cost of floating the house to Peanut Island.

“The building is in excellent condition. We would love to see someone put it to good use,” Adams said.

For eight years, the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre was in the town-owned former First Union Bank building at U.S. 1 and Indiantown Road. The building was demolished last year to make way for Harbourside, a $150 million entertainment, hotel and marina complex.

Reynolds is a 1954 graduate of Palm Beach High School. The star of television shows such as “Evening Shade” and B.L. Stryker” taught classes in the theater. The museum displayed memorabilia from movies such as Deliveranceand Smokey and the Bandit.” Jupiter rented the space to the institute for $1 a year.


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