Saturday, April 10, 2021

Marco Island’s DAR Goes Back in Time

Marco Island DAR Regent Karen Lombardi (left), Marco Island Historical Museum Curator Austin Bell and DAR member Betsy Perdichizzi at the chapter’s recent meeting at Hideaway Beach Club. (Submitted Photo)




Marco Island’s Historical Museum curator, Austin Bell, took the DAR members back to Marco’s beginning, through the present and offered a peek at its future at the chapter’s November meeting at the Hideaway Beach Club.

Since becoming curator in 2013, Bell has installed four permanent exhibits at the museum. They chronicle 6000 years of Marco’s history, from its initial Calusa Indian inhabitants, through the 18th and 19th century pioneers to what’s known as “Modern Marco,” the Mackle brothers’ development of the island starting in 1965.

Austin Bell’s headline from the historical museum was that the Marco Cat is coming home to Marco, again. The six-inch, half-human, half-panther Calusa figurine will be displayed at the museum from November 2018 to April 2021, along with other artifacts from the university of Pennsylvania. The last time the cat and the other items were together was in 1896 when anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing dug them out of the muck of Old Marco.

Bell has a master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Florida and an extensive background in museum studies, anthropology and natural history, including working at the Smithsonian Institution. He is a Florida native who told the members he loves being able to explore, collect, preserve, and share his home state’s remarkable history.

Austin Bell is so enthusiastic about the story of Marco Island that he has written a book detailing its history. Bell says Marco’s small size – only 12 square miles – makes the enormity of its history is all the more remarkable.

DAR regent, Karen Lombardi presented Bell with a donation toward the effort to bring the Key Marco Cat back to Marco, where it was fashioned thousands of years ago.

To learn more about Marco’s history and museum, visit

DAR has 180,000 members in 3,000 chapters worldwide. Members are women 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot in the American Revolution.

The DAR supports the active US Military and veterans with more than 200,000 hours of volunteer time annually at VA hospitals and other facilities. Members donate care packages, phone cards and needed personal items to America’s service personnel abroad. Members also participate in naturalization ceremonies and recognize outstanding veterans and ROTC/JROTC cadets.

The Marco Island Chapter of the DAR was established in 1976. Monthly luncheon meetings are at 10:30 AM on the third Thursday of each month. Potential members and visitors from other chapters are welcome. Please contact Karen Lombardi at 239-394-0028.


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