Chapter 16


Retired Toledo, Ohio, businessman Hiram Burnap added this 1898 cottage, which was built by Sam Woodring, to his southern fishing retreat in 1902. It was used by Burnap and his friends as a fishing camp until Burnap’s death in 1910. The cottage was sold to George Scoville in 1917. His sister Mabel Critchley eventually inherited the tiny home and lived there for many years until she sold it to the Brewster family in 1946. The Brewsters put a two-story addition on the back and rented it out part-time. The day that Nellie Brewster died in Pennsylvania, a light went on in the second floor bedroom of the Burnap Cottage. Was it Nellie’s friendly spirit passing through one last time? Esperanza Woodring certainly thought so. LeClare Bissell, a subsequent owner, donated the house to the village. It was barged out of Tarpon Bay to a road wide enough for the flatbed trailer. After it arrived at the village, the top story was removed and the structure was transformed back into the Burnap Cottage.

Please Note:

  • The lighthouse lens (used from 1962 to 1982). The lighthouse keeper would have had to wear an apron lest his suspenders scratch the lens. There is other lighthouse memorabilia in the back and in a case, as well as the ship’s wheel from the Algiers.
  • The lighthouse’s pattern of flashes was changed in 1933 to two sequential white flashes every 10 seconds, which it remains today.
  • The case displaying Woodring Point homes and their residents. The point was named for the Woodring family, which settled there in 1888 and are still there and still fishing.
  • The stained glass window over the collapsible organ is a reminder that this building was also used by itinerant preacher George Gatewood for Sunday services. The window, at one time, lighted the stairs to the second floor.
  • The Algiers print. The Algiers was a Mississippi ferry fashioned to look like a riverboat. It was retrofitted with a paddle wheel, converted into an elaborate riverboat home, and then brought from New Orleans and floated onto Sanibel’s Algiers Beach with great difficulty. The owners never lived in it. The bell, the anchor, and the ship’s wheel were saved before the Algiers was dismantled to make way for a city beach park.
  • The photo hanging over the chest in the corner is of the cottage as it left Woodring Point. Notice the second story, which was removed because it was not historic and was unsafe.
  • The shell collections are from three lighthouse keepers: Roscoe McLean, Clarence Rutland, and Bob England. The small shells in boxes in the lighthouse case were collected by Mae England from various postings.

Mabel Critchley inherited the Burnap Cottage from her brother George Scoville. Scoville bought it from Hiram Burnap in 1917. Sam Woodring built the cottage as a fishing retreat in 1898 and sold it to Hiram Burnap. Mabel was the third owner. She lived in the bigger house next door and had visitors and locals stay in the cottage. Mabel was from Coney Island, New York, so had frequent visitors from the north. She was a close friend of Esperanza Woodring. After Mabel sold the big house and the cottage to the Brewster family, she spent her next four or five winters at Esperanza’s house.
Another interesting point about the Burnap Cottage is that some of the scenes from the movie “Night Moves” with Gene Hackman were filmed at the cottage.