January 15, 2020 – (Key West, FL). Annual Back in Time fundraising party to feature acclaimed Beatles cover band and support KWAHS Custom House Museum restoration efforts

Keeping things cool at the Custom House— an award-winning museum and one of Key West’s most prominent national landmarks—with ongoing repairs and restoration efforts is the focus of Key West Art & Historical Society’s annual Back in Time fundraiser, set for Thursday, February 6 from 6:00pm-10:00pm at the historic San Carlos Institute. The ‘Magical Custom House Mystery Tour’ themed bash will take guests away via a costumed 1960s-themed event that includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, costume competition, and a live performance by the renowned Beatles tribute band, Let It Be.

Event proceeds will be matched by Dogwood Foundation $100,00 challenge grant and support the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys’ Custom House Preservation Fund, currently earmarked for Phase 2 of the 128-year-oldCustom House building’s mechanical systems upgrades.  The upgrade will replace costly air handler units and exterior chillers to help stabilize the award-winning museum’s climate controls.

“The humid, marine environment creates a scenario where we are prone to moisture, mold, and general degradation,” says Society Executive Director Michael Gieda. “Without proper climate control, we run the risk of damaging the collection and the building.”

The Custom House was once home to the island’s government offices, with its Richardsonian Romanesque-style architecture typical of other late 19th century Federal buildings. It also served as a touchstone for the island’s lucrative trade routes and maritime industries that helped make Key West the richest city per capita in the United States. When the island city went bankrupt in the 1930s, the building was transferred to the U.S. Navy as headquarters for their Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico operations, and later, abandoned as surplus property, falling into derelict condition. After a 9-year, $9 million restoration project spearheaded by Key West Art & Historical Society with the help of late philanthropist Scotti Merrill and the island community, it opened as a museum in 1999 and now offers two floors of exhibitions that weave together two centuries of history, art, people, and events of the Florida Keys, with more than 35-thousand visitors annually.

Since 2013, five phases of upgrades and repairs have been underway to help maintain the building as both a museum and iconic historic landmark, including hurricane-safe window installations; mechanical system upgrades- electric, fire control, and plumbing; roof repairs; masonry repairs; and air conditioning system upgrades. Major supporters of these ongoing restorations include M. Lee Garrison, Thomas Kenan, Chip Davis, the Dogwood Foundation, the Helmerich Trust and Dogwood Foundation Trustees. Holly and Frank Merrill.

“We are grateful to these organizations and to the community for their continuous support,” says Gieda. “Without it, we wouldn’t be able to operate the museum. “All of these repairs and upgrades are extending the life of this historic building, the collections housed inside and the safety of our visiting public.”

For more information or to make a tax-free donation to support Custom House restorations and repairs, contact Executive Director Michael Gieda, at 305-295-6616, x103. Tickets are $75 for General Admission, $100 for Preferred Seating on the first floor, which includes a complimentary drink, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar, and $150 for second floor VIP seating, which includes open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and an after-party from 9:00pm-10:00pm. All funds raised will be matched dollar for dollar by the Dogwood Foundation. For tickets visit KWAHS.ORG/ tickets. Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an island.