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image The 100-year-old building was once Ruskin College, as founded by John Ruskin. Photo Penny Fletcher

Woman’s club hopes early shopping day will increase renovation funds

By PENNY FLETCHER

RUSKIN — Robin Roberts takes her job as chairwoman of the House & Grounds Committee of the Ruskin Woman’s Club seriously.

Lately, she’s been pulling up boards and carpet in one of the two apartments on the second floor of the historic Woman’s Club building with her bare hands and the help of a few tools.

“Keeping up a 100-year-old building is quite a job,” Roberts said Oct. 11 as she showed all the things that need repaired.

Built in 1910, the three-story structure was the home of Dr. George Miller and his wife, Adeline Dickman Miller.

Dr. Miller founded a Ruskin College in what would soon become Ruskin. The college was based on the philosophy of John Ruskin, an Englishman who advocated for education of the middle class by setting up commune-style schools and museums for working people in several areas of the world. Although all the buildings belonging to the Ruskin College burned but two and the college itself ceased to exist, the historic landmark still stands at 503 U.S. 41 in Ruskin and is in much use today.

Home to the Ruskin Woman’s Club, the bottom floor is rented out for various functions for money to keep up the grounds and building and the elegant simplicity of the people who built it can be seen in the sturdy hardwood floors, ceilings, and built-in-furniture including nooks and storage boxes as well as functional shelving.

The home could not be kept up however without the rent from two apartments on the second floor.

They are now in need of much repair, said Roberts. “We could use the help of electricians and plumbers and cabinetry men.” Because the building was put on the Historic Registry in 1974, it needs restored in the original manner, only with modernized appliances and air conditioning.

The unfinished third floor is not in use, but is good-size and solid, made of plaster and wood.

Roberts and club President Iris Mixon say they think the attic could be put to use as well and plan to gear money from various fundraisers and donations towards the refurbishing projects.

One of the main fundraisers the club has done for many years is making and selling homemade pickles and jelly.

This year, they’re also trying something different. Roberts and Carolyn Jones are co-chairwomen of the club’s “Trinkets, Baubles & Bling Holiday Shopping Extravaganza” Nov. 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Besides being a fundraiser for the refurbishing, the event will give local residents a chance to get a head start on their holiday shopping,” Jones said.

The shopping day will also be a showcase for local artists and painters, potters and other artisans. Only one product in each category will be permitted so there will be no competition among vendors.

There will be items for the home, beauty products, jewelry, pet products and much more.

The Woman’s Club is a 501(c)3 organization so any donations are tax deductible for the donor. It qualifies as tax exempt because of the charitable work it accomplishes, including college scholarships, local food pantry donations, work with Bay Area veterans, history preservation and more.

Holiday purchases, of course, will not be classed as donations.

Having housed the first library in Ruskin with a collection of 5,000 donated books, one of the club’s current projects is to get the storage out of the original library room so that people may view the original wood shelving. 

Women vendors for the Nov. 17 event are still being sought. To participate, call Jones at (813) 645-3488 or Roberts at (813) 507-0509.

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