Raising money to preserve the Old Lutz School

On the surface, it will appear like any typical fall festival.

Vendors will line up, selling a wide array of items — and visitors to the Autumn Day at the Old Lutz School, 18819 U.S. 41 in Lutz, will be able to stock up on all sorts of stuff.

There will be handmade soaps and scrubs. Salsas, jams and jellies. Wreaths. Terra cotta pots. Toys. Plants. Wooden signs and more.

The event will be on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

This is what the Old Lutz School looked like decades ago — not much different from what it looks like today. (File)

Besides having the chance to check out scores of vendors, guests also can attend a free gardening workshop at 9:30 a.m.

Lynn Barber, from the University of Florida/IFAS-Hillsborough County Extension, will conduct the gardening workshop, which will focus on using high-color, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant plants in your home landscape.

On top of all that, people can tour the historic school building.

In a way, that’s what the event is all about — a method to raise money for the upkeep and preservation of a building that has played an important role in the life of the community of Lutz, said Stephanie Ensor, one of the organizers for this weekend’s event.

Ensor is a member of the Citizens for the Old Lutz School Building, a group formed in 1978 to preserve the building’s past and assure its future.

The group organizes an Autumn Market Day and a Spring Market Day each year, to raise money, she said.

The fundraisers are used to help make repairs, she said, and keep the school open for community events.

Upcoming repairs will include new front doors for the schoolhouse and treating for termites, she said.

“They’re repairing and rebuilding the existing windows. We can only do a few at a time because they’re really expensive,” Ensor said.

“We’re only doing three windows now. We’re going to get some new front doors because those have rotted out.”

The Old Lutz School is an important building in Lutz, Ensor said.

It is on both Hillsborough County’s Historic Landmark Registry and the National Register of Historic Places.

The old brick building, which has Colonial Revival architectural style, was designed by Frank A. Winn Jr. He also designed the Seminole Heights Methodist Church in Tampa, the Municipal Fishing Pier and Pavilion in Ballast Point Park and Tampa Heights Methodist Church, according to the Citizens for the Old Lutz School’s website.

Originally, the building had four rooms downstairs and a large auditorium upstairs. But, within a few years, the auditorium was divided into four rooms, plus a teacher’s room, the website adds.

The school educated generations of Lutz families, before closing decades ago. Volunteers now run the building, Ensor said.

And, each year, it is opened during the month of December, to welcome families to visit the school for several evenings of free community celebrations during the holiday season.

“This will be our 23rd year of hosting Christmas at the Old Lutz School.

“We host it for the whole month of December. It allows a place for the community to come together. It’s totally free. It just sort of gives back to the community, which has given to us,” Ensor said.

The building serves as a local gathering place, and helps to preserve “the small-town feel of our community,” Ensor said.

“We’ll get families that will meet up there with their little kids, and the kids are running around and playing, and watching a movie in the entertainment tent. It just gives everybody a real sense of community that is hard to come by these days.”

“It’s so genuine.

“We get so caught up in our day-to-day lives. It gives us a chance to slow down. And, that’s what we love about the schoolhouse,” Ensor said.

Autumn Day
Where: The Old Lutz School, 18819 U.S. 41 in Lutz
When: Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Autumn Day features a variety of vendors. A gardening workshop will be given on high-color, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant plants at 9:30 a.m.
Cost: Free
Info: Call Stephanie Ensor at (813) 244-2256, or email .

Published October 16, 2019

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