Plein Air Paint Out in Rural Evinston to Benefit Oldest Working Post Office & Country Store in the Sunshine State

By: Hilda Mitrani

ADD TO FAVORITES

The Wood & Swink Old Store and Post Office in Evinston, in north Central Florida, is a reflection of the past living in the present. It’s the only working post office and country store still in service in the state.

Two people have told me that the Wood & Swink is the heart and soul of the town, and folks here are determined to protect and preserve their way of life. They’re holding the 10th annual Evinston Plein Air Paint Out from April 17 – 24 to underwrite the conservation of the Wood & Swink a one-story, wood-frame vernacular structure. It dates back to 1882, and was built of heart pine by builder William P. Shettleworth.

Conservation efforts must meld the needs of the modern-day postal service with the historic nature of the building, which is one of 53 properties in Alachua County on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Linda Blondheim, a landscape painter who serves as the Artist Liaison for the Paint-Out, "Its original owner was a wealthy Micanopy merchant named Simon H. Benjamin. He used it as a warehouse to store merchandise for himself and his business partner, Jacob Katz."

Many of the top landscape painters in the Sunshine State will be painting at the Wood, Richeson and Fair Oaks Farms, plus Mike's Fish Camp. Best of all, artwork will be available for purchase beginning Saturday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Paint Out’s wetroom/gallery will be behind the Wood & Swink, located on County Road 225 in Evinston.

In a charming and practical note, bystanders have the option of taking free hayrides from the store to where the artists are painting to see them at work.

Another opportunity to support the Wood & Swink

Former lieutenant governor of Florida Buddy MacKay will be the keynote speaker at the Patron’s Gala at the University of Florida President's House on Saturday, April 24. Lt. Gov. MacKay and his wife Anne both have small town roots and have long been advocates for preserving and protecting Florida's environment and cultural patrimony.
 
During the Paint-Out, you can also pick up hand-made wares, while home-cooked country lunches will be available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Another option is to stop at the Blue Highway, an eclectic pizzeria on scenic US 441 in Micanopy, or Rocky's Villa in nearby Orange Lake.

Wilma Sue Wood, the postmaster since 1979, is herself following the footsteps of her husband’s great-grandfather, Capt. William Drayton Evins of South Carolina, founder of the town. Wilma Sue enjoys her job, especially talking to people.

Given how much care is being shown to protect this part of Florida history, I am sure that the feeling is universal.

To support the Paint-Out and the Wood & Swink, purchase artwork during the event or at the Patron's Gala. Tickets to the gala must be purchased in advance and are only $35. Tickets can be purchased online.

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