By Gary White
LAKELAND — The history of the Carpenters’ Home is not forgotten at Lake Gibson Village.
CEO Renee Tucker has set aside an area off the lobby as a “museum” in which artifacts will be displayed, such as the original architectural plans for the building and vintage postcards bearing its image.
Some of the items are donations from amateur historian Richard Fifer of Lakeland. Fifer said his grandfather and great-uncle both lived in the retirement resort after working as carpenters in Illinois.
He said both are buried in a small cemetery for former residents of the facility, which closed in 1976. Fifer, 71, said his father worked for two years in a store on the property.
Fifer, a retired aerospace engineer, arranged to have a marker erected near the entrance to Lake Gibson Village. The metal sign will summarize the building’s history as a retirement haven for members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, then the second-largest union in the country.
Installation of the marker is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 15. Fifer will share his knowledge of the building’s past.
Fifer serves on the board of the Polk County Historical Association, though he said the group was not directly involved in creating the Carpenters’ Home marker. Fifer said Lake Gibson Village covered the cost of the sign.
The dedication of the building Oct. 1, 1928, drew such dignitaries as U.S. Secretary of Labor James Davis, Florida Gov. John W. Martin, Congressman Herbert Drane and union president William L. Hutcheson.
Tucker has devoted space on the facility’s website to the building’s history. The site also invites visitors to share their memories of the structure in its previous incarnations.