Upon entering the site, the first historical building that visitors encounter is the Rutland House. Built in 1913, it was the first building to be relocated to the village, which happened in 1984 at the founding of the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. The Rutland House contains a small visitor center where guests meet the volunteer docents, sign a guestbook, and pay their entrance fee before continuing their journey into the island’s past. Once inside the village, visitors can explore eight historical buildings that range in date from 1896 to 1927.

 “Everything here is from the 1890s to the 1940s,” said museum manager Emilie Alfino, “or we don’t accept it. The oldest building is the schoolhouse, which was built in 1896.”  

Used for many years as a local theater, the old school building was eventually donated and brought to the village where volunteers restored it. “When they brought it here and started taking off the sheetrock,” Alfino said, “they found the original blackboard.” The original school bell was also returned to the building to finish off the return to authenticity.
The next oldest building in the village is the Burnap Cottage, which was built in 1898. Used first as a homestead and later as a church, fishing retreat, and cottage, the building was donated in 1998 and soon restored to its original look and feel. Like the other buildings in the village, the Burnap Cottage has maintained its historical charm and warmness. Restoration has been carefully done to ensure that visitors will experience a realistic return to a simpler era. 

Another visitor favorite in the village is the Morning Glories Cottage. This house was originally shipped to the island as a prefabricated, kit home in 1925. Over 30,000 pieces had to be put together, but the result was a cozy little home that 89 years later still makes visitors want to spend the night.