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Boathouse to Break Ground at Heritage Village in Largo

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The Optimist Pram was the brainchild of local boat builder and Clearwater Optimist Club member Clark Mills. In the 1940s, Mills was challenged to design a boat that could be used by young sailors in a local, water-based “soap box derby” youth event.

The first Florida Pram Regatta took place in Clearwater in 1948. The pram’s easy-to-make and easy-to-sail design made it a favorite of young sailors everywhere, and more than a quarter million of these boats had been produced worldwide at the time of Mills’ death in 2001. A vintage Optimist Pram, along with historic Windmill, Sun Cat and Snipe boats will be on display in a new boathouse addition to Heritage Village scheduled for completion by the fall of 2012. The groundbreaking takes place on Sunday, April 15, 3:30 p.m. behind Heritage Village’s Greenwood House near McKay Creek.

Construction of the new boat house is made possible through a unique public-private partnership with Pinellas County government, the Pinellas County Historical Society, the Clearwater Yacht Club, Ed Hoffman Architects and Proefke Construction. Donated funds will be used for permits and supplies; volunteer labor will be used to design and build the facility.

The structure will feature a 24’x40’ display area for the boats, plus a smaller, air conditioned 12’x40’ display room. This boathouse will profile an important chapter of coastal living in Pinellas County and will include trophies, tools and other memorabilia from the museum’s collections.

Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th St. N. in Largo. This living history museum brings more than 150 years of local history to life. Visitors can tour 28 authentic buildings and structures, and experience historical Pinellas County through hands-on exploration. Paths wind through 21 acres and connect with the Florida Botanical Gardens and the Pinewood Cultural Park campus.

Heritage Village is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. It is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and all Pinellas County holidays. For more information on Heritage Village call (727) 582-2123.