Florida Maritime Museum
The Cortez Schoolhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Cortez Historic District, designated in 1995. Cortez Village retains the original charm and sense of community that has sustained the village for almost 150 years.
When the schoolhouse was constructed in 1912, it became the second schoolhouse in the community of Cortez, a fishing village that was established in the 1880's. It originally housed two classrooms, but in 1933, an auditorium with a stage was added forming a T-shaped floor plan.
Residents of the Cortez community are passionate about preserving the past and ensuring that both residents and visitors of Manatee County understand the significance of the village and this schoolhouse. Thanks largely to this passion, the schoolhouse opened as a museum in 2006.
Exhibits within the museum tell the story of the Village of Cortez which was founded in the 1880's by a group of residents from Carteret County, North Carolina.
"The Burton Store," an 1890 waterfront store, has also been moved to the property and is being restored. This image shows a Music on the Porch event, one of the ongoing museum programs. See our Programs and Tours page for more informaion.
In 1961, the schoolhouse was briefly leased to an art school, and it was later sold to master weaver Robert Sailors. Sailors made the building his home and studio. In December of 1999, with grant assistance from the Florida Communities Trust, Manatee County purchased the schoolhouse and an adjoining parcel to create the Cortez Nature Preserve.
The south classroom houses an exhibit on the fishing industry in Cortez and the effects of the net ban upon the village.
The Pillsbury Boatshop has been restored and relocated to the schoolhouse grounds.