Winter Garden Heritage Museum located on the site of the old railroad depot built in 1918. Train Service began in the late 1880s by The Orange Belt Railway established by Peter Demens a Russian immigrant. The railway served towns from Sanford to the new town of St. Petersburg that he named after the town in Russia where he grew up. The trains carried freight and passengers. One hundred people lived in a settlement called Winter Garden at the turn of the century.
A room is dedicated to the Citrus Industry, which was the main crop. Black and white photographs of the First National Bank, First Brick Streets and Main Street line the walls of the museum. Four display cases filled with memorabilia. Photographs of the fire department and Dave Starr the longest serving sheriff from the late 1940s until 1971.
Citizen Heroes – George McMillan who served with the Flying Tigers during WWII. William S. Maxey and his wife Juanita founded the first African-American School.
J. L. Dillard the first city commissioner who also served in the Florida Legislature. Mr. Dillard built the Shelby Hotel in the early part of the 20th century that housed early settlers and also served as a boarding house for men who worked on farms and packing houses.
After visiting the museum, stop by the Visitor Information Center. We listened to a local proudly tell a story of early Winter Garden. Pick up a brochure of local events and take a 40-minute self-guided tour.
Free entrance to the museum, hours of operation on the website. Visiting small town museums gives me a close look of what life was like for the early settlers.