Help old Betsy’s quest for a new home in Venice



My name is Earl Midlam, and I am a lifelong resident of Venice as well as a former Vice-Mayor and three term City Councilman. For many years I have taken care of Venice’s first fire truck, a 1926 American LaFrance pumper affectionately named Old Betsy. For many years, Old Betsy was the only fire truck.   After her “retirement” in the 1960s, she took on another role in the City, as ambassador. She appeared in parades from Ft. Myers to St.  Petersburg. And yes, going over the Skyway Bridge was an adventure.


After many years of service, funds were raised in late 2011 to restore the truck. The unveiling was done in February of 2012 at the Venice Beach Party celebrating Venice’s 85th Anniversary. Since then she appeared at many events as well as parades. Along with our beautiful beaches, I believe she is
the most photographed by citizens and visitors alike.


The time has come for the truck to have a home of her own. The site and a concept plan were approved unanimously by the Venice City Council on August 25, 2020. A generous donor, Dr. William H. Jervey, Jr., has indicated he will match up to $100,000.00 in donations for the building. Beechwood
Builders, a local contractor, has prepared the concept plan and has estimated the building to cost $310,000.00 turnkey. The building will have a door on the front as well as the back to allow ease of getting the truck in and out for future events, and one wall of windows under cover with benches that will allow visitors to view the truck at any time as well as displays. The building will be built on the Cultural Campus which contains the Dr. William H. Jervey, Jr. Public Library, the Venice Museum, the Venice Art Center, the Venice Community Center, the Julia Cousins Laning and Dale Laning Archive Research Center, and the Monty Andrews Arboretum. It will be a true asset to the City.


We are actively seeking donations to complete this project, and are asking for your help. I have attached Old Betsy’s story as well as information on donations and a support letter from Venice Main Street. I would be available for any questions you may have. This building will also serve to honor our
first responders.


Donations will be collected by Venice Heritage, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, P.O. Box 1190, Venice, FL 34284, and must indicate that the donation is for Old Betsy’s Home on the check.  Or you may make your donation through PayPay by visiting and click on the yellow donate button
on the right-hand side below the header photos. Please feel free to contact me at 941-485-3311 or at


I appreciate your taking the time to hear Old Betsy’s story and consider this
project. Thank you.


Earl R. Midlam

Related posting


Venice council unanimously agree on new home for ‘Old Betsy’  


Venice:  100 year old “Old Betsy” is looking for a new home