A Davis Shores cottage owned by the city of St. Augustine will soon be trucked to the Florida Agricultural Museum in Flagler County.
The house, a small wood-frame cottage, is connected to the local 20th century turpentine industry, according to the city.
St. Augustine commissioners said at a meeting this week that they were glad to see the museum's proposal.
"I have to say I am so, so, so excited about this," Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman said.
The city bought the land at 91 Coquina Ave. in Davis Shores to make a park and flooding improvements in the area, a project that's still underway. The house came with the land.
Instead of trying to maintain it, the city advertised that it would give away the house and throw in up to $5,000 for someone to move and preserve it.
Proposals came in from two private individuals and the Florida Agricultural Museum. Commissioners chose the museum's plan to ensure the house would be preserved on public display.
The cottage will be moved to the museum's property at 7900 Old Kings Road N. in Palm Coast. The move will require removing the front and back porches and chimney of the cottage and reattaching those features at the museum grounds, according to the plans.
The museum would like to move the 91 Coquina Ave. property before the end of September, said Kara Hoblick, executive director of the museum.
Hoblick estimated that moving the house and preparing the foundation at the museum could cost about $15,000, she said. The museum is accepting donations via its Facebook page to help care for the building.
The museum has old Florida buildings, such as barns, on display along with "heritage" animals such as cracker cattle, horses and sheep, according to the museum. The museum is open 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays — more details are at floridaagmuseum.org.
People will be able to see just the exterior of the cottage while it's being rehabilitated, but it will be open for tours at some point, Hoblick said.
"We are in the process of creating a new turpentine and timber exhibit, so this will be part of telling that story," Hoblick said.
The Meldrim family got title to the property in 1946.
A city document says: "The Meldrim family operated a turpentine and timber farm in St. Johns County as early as 1934 led by James Meldrim and his father, J.W. Meldrim, which was the longest operating turpentine camp in Northeast Florida."
Jo Meldrim, a daughter of James Meldrim, gained interest in the company after her dad died, according to the document. She also lived in the Meldrim Cottage.
Turpentine has a long history in Florida.
Spanish explorers used turpentine in Florida for caulking their ships in the 1500s, said Charlie “Cracker” Langrick, a tour guide at the Florida Agricultural Museum.
Over time, various methods have been used for producing turpentine.
A blog from the Florida Public Archaeology Network describes one method: "Workers would scar longleaf pine trees (the scars are often referred to as cat faces) which would cause the gum, or resin, from the tree to run. They would attach a cup and gutters to the tree to collect the resin. This resin would then be distilled in a large still to create pitch."
Turpentine camps typically included "a fire still, spirit shed and glue pot, rosin yard, blacksmith and cooperage (barrel) shed, cup cleaning vat, barn and wagon shed, and living quarters for the manager and workers," according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Turpentine has been used for more than just plugging cracks in ships.
In addition to being used for paint and varnish, turpentine oil is used "in the synthesis of resins, insecticides, oil additives, and synthetic pine oil and camphor," according to Britannica.com. "Turpentine oil is also used as a rubber solvent in the manufacture of plastics."
The industry's decline in the Deep South was influenced by the depletion of trees and workers heading North for jobs, Langrick said. The development of steel ships also contributed to the decline, according to the Florida Public Archaeology Network.
Buildings from the Meldrim timber farm and turpentine camp are still near the St. Johns River. The state of Florida bought 5,236 acres of Meldrim timber property for conservation in 2016.
The style of the Meldrim cottage is influenced by old Florida. The Florida Agricultural Museum plans to rehabilitate the structure but preserve its original look.
Mayor Tracy Upchurch, who provided legal representation for Jo Meldrim at some point, said she loved land in the area and agriculture. She was a player in the donation of Meldrim land for preservation.
"I think this would make her very, very happy, and it's a perfect location," Upchurch said.
Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline said to museum officials: “I want to commend you for preserving a part of our agricultural past as well as one of our prominent local families of the past.”