CORTEZ – Three Cortez women, local historian Dr. Mary Fulford Green, artist Linda Molto and former Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann, were honored on Friday by the Manatee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Anna Maria.
The March awards highlight both Manatee History Month and Women’s History Month in recognizing women’s contributions to the preservation of the historic fishing village of Cortez, according to Manatee Chapter DAR Regent Kathy Doddridge, who presented the awards at the Kirby Stewart American Legion Post in Bradenton.
The trio are “ordinary women who have achieved extraordinary things,” she said.
Dr. Mary Fulford Green
The DAR National Historic Preservation Recognition Award was awarded to Dr. Mary Fulford Green, who was unable to attend for health reasons.
Doddridge detailed highlights of her life. Born in Cortez in 1925, Green is the granddaughter of 1887 Cortez settlers William Thomas Fulford and Sallie Adams of Carteret County, North Carolina, whose Cortez home Fulford lives in.
She was valedictorian of her 1942 Bradenton High School class (now Manatee High School) and earned a B.A. in science, M.A. in chemistry and Ph.D. in education from Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University) in Tallahassee.
She was a founder of Hope Family Services in 1979 and served as president of Manatee County’s Mental Health Association for seven years.
Green was instrumental in establishing the Cortez Village Historical Society (CVHS) in 1984 and in getting the village of Cortez on the south side of Cortez Road on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
With fellow award-winner Linda Molto, Green wrote “Cortez – Then and Now” in 1997; they also produced the Walking Tour Map of the Cortez Fishing Village.
Robin Schoch, who accepted the award for Green, said that Green has also worked on successfully opposing a 65-foot-tall bridge from Cortez to Anna Maria Island, a proposed marina development in the village, and the proposed purchase of the Cortez Trailer Park.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Cortez artist Linda Molto also received a National Historic Preservation Recognition Award.
She moved to Florida in 1965 and purchased a 1920s home in Cortez village, next to the parsonage of the Church of God. When the parsonage was slated for demolition in 1992, she protested at a CVHS meeting, joined the group and remains an active member.
Molto worked with Green on obtaining National Register of Historic Places status for Cortez.
She has served on the board of FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) since its inception in 1991, and was instrumental in purchasing land east of Cortez village to create the FISH Preserve. She organized the Cortez Historic Homes Tour in 2004-05 to help pay for preserve property.
Molto is currently involved in protesting the proposed 65-foot-tall bridge from Cortez to Anna Maria Island.
Molto showed the DAR group a piece of artwork she created of the first person she met in Cortez, a young boy selling mangos for 2 cents each.
Cortez is “a place that you don’t see anymore, where it feels like home,” she said.
While residents have their differences, above all, they are neighbors who are there for each other, she said.
Jane von Hahmann
FISH board member and former Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann was presented the DAR Community Service Award for her longstanding support for FISH.
Established in 1991, FISH sponsors the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, which provides funds to restore, maintain and enlarge the 98-acre FISH Preserve.
This year, the festival netted about $60,000, von Hahmann told the group, close to last year’s net, and attracted more than 20,000 people over the two-day event in February. She has been the co-chair of the festival for the past nine years.
FISH has removed invasive plant species from the preserve, planted native vegetation and created tidal channels.
Outside the preserve, FISH projects include the restoration of the 1890 Burton Store, turning the Church of God into Fishermen’s Hall, renovating the FISH Boatworks and the Cortez firehouse and more.
Von Hahmann also has volunteered with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and opposed large developments including Aqua on the Bay and the 65-foot-tall bridge proposed from Cortez to Anna Maria Island.
Cortez has been battling encroachment for 135 years, von Hahmann told the group, adding, “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”