History & Mystery at Chinsegut Dinner Benefit

June 18, 2016 – Brooksville, FL – Sixty people arrived at Chinsegut Hill Manor House, gathering on the magnificent wrap-around porch for the evening’s festivities to benefit one of Brooksville’s historic treasures.

The sky was ominous, but Sherry Pedonesi, Friends of Chinsegut Hill’s President, lit up the area with her welcoming smile as she served chilled lemon-infused water to guests. Hors d’ovres, including marinated olives, spicy feta, hummus, mushroom pate and crackers were generously laid out for the first course of this five-course dinner event.

At 6:10 p.m., the skies opened to shower the Hill’s guests as they walked from the Manor House to the Dining Hall under cover of umbrellas. Inside the air conditioned hall, the next four courses and our interactive history lesson were served family-style.

The meal quality was gourmet. Soup, salad, rice, stuffed pork loin and berry compote dessert were consumed while participants learned about Raymond Robins: his activities, loves and his political prowess. Each table was instructed to come up with a scenario explaining what happened to Raymond Robins after he disappeared September 3, 1932, from the City Club in Manhattan. He was supposed to be enroute to talk with President Hoover in Washington, D.C. but he never arrived.

Table teams were given newspaper clippings from the time, providing details as to what may have happened to Raymond Robins that fateful night. Twelve theories were shared with each of the teams, including being killed by mobsters for his pro-prohibition activities, being kidnapped by Russian imperialists, problems with Brooksville bankers, and amnesia. Each table was instructed to come up with their own theory of what happened to the famous Chinsegut resident, political activist and economist.

Several fun prizes were awarded for the most unusual, best thought out and most creative stories submitted by the table teams. Laughter rang through the Dining Hall, as each table’s story was shared.

Finally, Jason Kahler shared with attendees what actually happened to Raymond Robins, who had succumbed to an amnesia episode and gone to Whittier, North Carolina. After declaring himself to be Raymond Rogers, a mining student from Kentucky, Raymond Robins settled into the small town for over months before he was identified by one of the town’s residents and pointed out to Federal Agents. It took three visits from his wife, Margaret Drier, for Raymond to recognize her. He was taken to a sanitarium for a short visit until he declared himself healthy again and then returned to Chinsegut to spend his remaining years.

Another fun-filled 5 course dinner event is scheduled for September 24 and features historical information about JC Penney and his visits to Chinsegut. Luncheon on the Hill, featuring a $10 luncheon is held the first Wednesday of each month and includes information about Chinsegut Hill life and its residents.

They Raymonds are buried under the Altar Oak on the Chinsegut property, where visitors can enjoy tours of the Manor House for only $5 Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm, Saturday, 10am – 5pm, or Sunday, 12pm – 6pm, walk the grounds at no charge, spend the night at the Chinsegut Retreat Center’s cabins or rent the Manor House for weddings and events. For more information, please contact 352-799-5400.

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