Clermont Florida Painting by John’s Painting and Pressure Washing provided all the paint work for this project!


September 10, 2015 by Roxanne Brown

Michael Willetts of Johns Painting prepares to paint one of the structures at the Historic Village.

Michael Willetts of Johns Painting prepares to paint one of the structures at the Historic Village. -Photo by Paul William Penders.

Local history is getting a face lift at the South Lake County Historic Village in downtown Clermont, where several buildings are being renovated.

“The Clermont Historic Village is an important part of the city’s downtown waterfront district, enjoyed by visitors from all over the world as well as local residents. It is a unique reminder of the people and times that shaped our history,” City Manager Darren Gray said.

The village, operated through a partnership between the South Lake County Historical Society and the city of Clermont, is home to many buildings associated with the city’s history.

A few of the buildings were moved from their original locations, and a couple are replicas, but all are now open to the public as museums.

They are the Herring Hooks Schoolhouse, a replica of Clermont’s first school in 1881; the original Cooper Memorial Library (known as Little Cooper), built in 1914; the train depot, in its original location; the Quonset Hut WWII Museum, an actual World War II artifact; an outhouse replica built by Eagle Scout Jamaal Anderson Reid; the Kern House (original home to the city’s first white settlers), built in 1885 and moved to the village in 2006; and the Townsend House, which was the home of Clermont’s first black settlers.

The renovations are starting with the Kern House.

“Time had taken its toll on the wooden boards used to construct the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Kern and their two children,” said SLCHS President Donna DiGennaro. “Many boards and window ledges had rotted through. Major repairs were required.”

The city set aside $67,000 from this year’s budget to fix the problem.

The money will take care of the Kern House repairs and those to Little Cooper and the Townsend House, which needs a new roof.

“The wood was so rotten, you could almost see through it into the house,” Village Manager Dodie King said.

Innovative Construction & Engineering of Tampa started the work on Aug. 25.

Construction Manager Dennis Weidner, said the company, headquartered in Maryland, specializes in government and residential historical work and renovations.

Since Aug. 25, he and his crew have been removing all the wood from the back and both sides of the Kern House — porch included. This week, they began replacing the siding and window ledges on the right side of the Kern House, using Hardie Board, a material that resembles wood but never rots.

Clermont Florida Painting by John’s Painting and Pressure Washing is doing all the paint work.

Weidner said the buildings, especially the Kern House, “would have had some structural issues” if the work hadn’t been started soon.

All the material he’s using matches what’s already on the house, so there won’t be noticeable differences.

“With historical renovations, that’s definitely the niche. You have to get inside whatever job you’re doing and make sure you’re staying the same as far as look and feel to preserve its historical relevance,” he said.

Weidner said the work, excluding the Townsend house roof, will be completed by the end of the month.

King, who oversees the Village, said although it is open to the public, it’ll be nice when all is back to normal.

Clermont City spokeswoman Doris Bloodsworth, who has written many history books about the area and its people, said she is happy to see the Village is being taken care of.

“When I was researching ‘Images of America: Clermont,’ I visited the Historic Village many times and gained valuable information and a real sense of Clermont’s history by literally walking in the same footsteps as our pioneers and veterans. Our Historic Village is a wonderful treasure,” Bloodsworth said.