Cedar Key museum to auction off treasures

Cedar Key history guru Anna White Hodges flings the metal door open of a storage unit that is filled to the brim with donated artifacts and kitschy collectibles.

The 3-foot tall beauty contest trophy awarded to Ms. Polly Pillsbury in 1955 is looking right at her even though it’s tucked in the corner near the giant cast iron ladle and rawhide seated rocking chairs.

Back at the Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum, executive director Hodges has a stash of documents, centuries-old bottles, and artisan crafted buttons from the 1800s stowed away.

The items are ready to go up for auction from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday at the Cedar Key Community Center on 6th Street.

Hodges is trying to raise funds to take care of required building repairs on the two buildings that house the main museum and offices.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a funding shut off and visitors to Cedar Key declined, meaning the historical society’s ability to host other fundraising activities were also cut off.

Plans to utilize the museum did not stop though. Hodges says she has organized oral history cassettes and made headway on the scanning of archive documents with the help of Cedar Key High School student volunteers.

Right now Hodges is on a mission to raise money to counter recent construction. 

“During COVID, the front porch and stairs started falling apart,” Hodges said, adding it cost $40,000 to repair them. “That’s a lot of money for a nonprofit.”

That’s where the Dec. 11 “Sled to Shed” auction comes into play.

Hodges says that decades of items donated to the museum have been tucked in closets, the storage unit and other spaces.

Cedar Key auction polly trophy

“For years people donated items,” Hodges said, noting that those items often were not catalogued and lacked any paperwork. “There’s no record of who donated what.” 

On Saturday night local auctioneer Daniel Jerrels of United Country Real Estate Property and Auctions will put on a show as he conducts the auction.

“I look forward to seeing everybody come out and show their support for the community,” said Jerrels, the Bronson-based auctioneer who just pulled off a $12,000 cake auction at Cedar Key School.

Jerrels said he went to auction school in Iowa and graduated in 2010.

“The first auction I did was in Cedar Key,” he said. “I walked off the plane coming home from school and went straight to the annual senior class cake auction.”

Jerrels added he’ll work hard to keep eventgoers entertained on Saturday night.

“We’ll be having fun while raising money,” he said. “It’s always a little tricky to help people be happy when they’re spending their money but this will be an enjoyable event.

Auction sponsor packages are available and include reserved table seating and wine for two, four or eight people.

A silent auction starts at 5 p.m. with live bidding starting at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact Hodges for more information at director@cedarkeyhistory.org or by phone at 352-543-5549 or 352-949-2733.

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