St. Petersburg Museum of History

St. Petersburg Museum of History located at 335 2nd Avenue NE in St. Petersburg. A painting of Peter Demens a Russian immigrant who founded St. Petersburg. He named the town St. Petersburg after the town in Russia where he grew up. He also founded the Orange Belt Railway that began train service in the late 1880s. The railway served the towns of St. Petersburg and Sanford that carried freight and passengers.

 

 

 

 

Black and white photos of a bygone era. Formerly a spa, the “Fountain of Youth”, opened as an attraction. The railroad pier built by the Orange Belt Railway to bring in tourists. The bathing pavilion built by D.F. S. Brantley, a boat builder. The “Million Dollar” pier built in the mid-1920s a famous gathering place for locals.

African Americans helped build the Orange Belt Railway then settling in Pepper Town an early African American community. The early settlers held many different occupations and by the early 20th century were an important part of St. Petersburg.

Two men that became influential members of St. Petersburg. Mark Dixon Dodd, an artist who helped design and construct homes in the Driftwood Community. Known for paintings of coastal and architectural scenes. William L. Straub and his two partners bought the St. Petersburg Times. He remained editor for thirty-eight years.

“Schrader’s Little Cooperstown” the world’s largest collection of signed baseballs on loan to the museum. Dennis Schrader at 9 years old started his collection. A timeline of baseball beginning in 1845 when Alexander J. Cartwright credited with being the Father of Modern Baseball to 100 years of spring baseball. Al Lang, mayor of St. Petersburg brought spring training to St. Petersburg. All-American Girls, a professional baseball league formed in 1943 until 1954. Fifteen teams made up the league. Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first African-American baseball player. Rube Foster founder of the Negro League in 1920 that consisted of 8 teams.

A tribute to the American Soldier from the Civil War to the War in Iraq. Photographs along the walls depict the many soldiers through the war years. A four-part film about the Civil War and World War II. One film about women who visited their husbands and boyfriends in their encampments during the Civil War. A display of American Red Cross Uniforms during World War I.

I recommend the museum, an early history of St. Petersburg. Admission prices, hours of operation on the website.

After touring the museum, take a thirty-minute St. Petersburg Looper Trolley Tour around downtown St. Petersburg. Our trolley guide born and raised in St. Petersburg knows the entire city. He pointed out historical points of interest as well as the city parks that hold free concerts and other venues.

 

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Matheson History Museum

 

 

 

 

Formerly an American Legion Hall the Matheson History Museum located at 513 E. University Avenue in Gainesville. The Matheson family early settlers to Gainesville since the 1860s. A photograph of the first store on display shows the first Matheson Dry Goods store in downtown Gainesville. Stop and visit a replica of the Matheson Dry Goods Store and see what people bought in the 1870s. Dr. Frederick Humphreys a Homeopathic Physician founded Humphrey’s Specifics in the mid-1840s. From mild powder cures to curing infant diseases like colic and slow growth.A timeline of events inside the exhibit hall from the British Period to when Florida becomes a territory. During territorial times, John Bellamy a plantation owner from Monticello built the Bellamy Road and Jacob Rhett Motte, an army surgeon during the Seminole and Creek Wars wrote about life in the harsh frontiers of Georgia and Florida.A current exhibit includes posters illustrating the search for Ponce de Leon and the fountain of youth. Take a swim in the springs at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota and Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee. Before theme parks, people visited Silver Springs and took a ride on the glass bottom boat. A clear view of the springs while watching sea life looking down at the glass in the center of the boat. Silver Springs now a state park.

Posters describe Native American names given to rivers, lakes, counties and cities. Check the website for upcoming exhibits in the museum.

The Museum Shop sells tin cans as collectables, books about Florida, a map of Alachua County circa 1824. Margaret Tolbert’s prints for sale an artist based in Gainesville.

Matheson House

Chris Matheson’s Office

Augusta Matheson Painting
in the dining room

 

 

 

 

 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places Matheson House Georgian Architecture built in 1867 by James D. and Augusta Matheson. Our docent took us on a tour of the house describing in detail the history of each room. Original furnishings throughout the house except the bed and wardrobe in James and Augusta’s bedroom. During his lifetime, Chris their only surviving son became an attorney, Presbyterian Minister and a mayor. After becoming a Presbyterian Minister, he married Sarah Hamilton, and they lived in Oklahoma for twenty years. Sarah a teacher and missionary taught the Native American Children. They moved back to Gainesville where he served as mayor of Gainesville for 8 terms.

After Chris’s death, Sarah traveled around the world for forty years. Collectables around the house serve as a remembrance of the trips taken. Serving as a missionary in South Korea for 2 years teaching children English. Sarah deeded the house to the history museum after her death.

Tison Tool Barn

The Tison Tool Barn built in the 1990s. It serves to house the many tools made in the 1850s. Before automobiles, the cast-iron horse trough outside the barn used to water horses and mules outside the courthouse in the 1880s. The trough donated to the museum.

Battle of Gainesville Site

Gainesville founded in 1853 and named after General Gaines who served in the Seminole Wars. During the Civil War the skirmish in downtown Gainesville and the Battle of Gainesville occurred. The Confederates lost the skirmish to the Union Troops but won the battle. The docent pointed out the site where the Battle of Gainesville occurred.

While visiting the museum let the docent know that you want to visit the house. I recommend the museum, tool barn and house, so much history in Gainesville. Free admission to the museum donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

Orange County Regional History Center

Before entering the history center stand outside and admire the classical-revival architecture formerly the home of the Orange County Courthouse. Orange County Regional History Center located at 65 E. Central Boulevard in downtown Orlando.

101Take an audio tour or walk throughout the museum and admire the many photographs and collectables of the many different people and their accomplishments. The St. Johns and Archaic people consisted of small tribes that lived thousands of years before the French and Spanish arrived in Florida. The Timucuans an early native people dwelled in Central and Northeast Florida. They built canoes, hunted and fished. The dioramas portray the Native Americans in their natural environment.

014024An exhibit displaying Jewish life in Orange County and surrounding communities that began 150 years ago. People in horse drawn carts arrived in downtown Orlando to shop in the dry goods store operated by immigrants from Europe. The oldest operating hardware store today opened in the mid-1880s in Kissimmee. Jacob Cohen an early settler helped write the first charter for Orlando in 1875. Photographs of a Purple Heart recipient from WWII and soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. Commander Bernard Brender brought the Naval Training Center to Orlando in 1968.

A name known to the people of Orlando, Dr. Philip P. Phillips, a medical doctor moved to Orlando, bought citrus groves and owned two citrus packinghouses. He sold his assets and started a foundation, which is still in operation today.

075-1A history of African Americans during the Spanish and British Occupation, during slavery and after the emancipation. Washington Shores a black community, and the town of Eatonville, established in the 1880s still in existence today. A famous resident, Zora Neal Hurston, author and anthropologist lived in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. In January of each year, a festival honors her works.

084Some of the artwork exhibited from the Highwaymen African American landscape artists from Ft. Pierce who rode the highways selling their paintings.

Steamboats a popular mode of travel in the early part of the nineteenth century. Small towns boomed after the railroad came in the mid-1860s. After Henry Ford invented the Model T people hit the road. “Tin Can” tourists a name given to people who traveled to Florida in their cars, sometimes slept in tents and ate out of tin cans. Cabins for rent on a twenty-acre site owned by Henry Hand for people who didn’t like to sleep in tents.

The effect on Central Florida in wartime, NASA and astronaut memorabilia. A look inside the courtroom that is part of the museum tour. Stop inside the gift shop, books on beach camping and Florida, Arrowheads and Tektites. I recommend the museum, so much central Florida history to absorb. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

 

Museum of Winter Haven History

Early 20th century time clock

Museum of Winter Haven History formerly the home of the Woman’s Club listed in the National Register of Historic Places at 660 Pope Avenue in Winter Haven. Winter Haven, the early years depicted in photographs throughout the museum. Cabinets filled with memorabilia throughout the museum donated by the citizens of Winter Haven.

Winter Haven founded in 1890 elected Willie Smith their first mayor in 1911. The Eycleshimer, Inman and Harris families early settlers to Winter Haven. Envisioning a winter resort Peter Eycleshimer credited for naming Winter Haven. F.A.K. Harris and his wife Adele opened the first mercantile store. Frederick and Florence Inman opened the Florence Villas Hotel. Dan Laramore an early African American resident to Winter Haven became wealthy by acquiring orange groves and land.


 

 

 

 

Tourists would stay at the Florence Villa, Haven or Lake Region Hotel then board a steam-powered boat for a tour on one of the Chain of Lakes.

Cypress Gardens founded by Dick Pope in 1936, made famous by their ski shows, Southern Belles and Botanical Gardens. A room dedicated to Cypress Gardens mementoes. The Botanical Gardens all that remain of Cypress Gardens encompass 30 acres given to the people of Polk County to enjoy.

The docents longtime residents brought the history of Winter Haven to life with their stories. Admission is free, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science

American Mastodon

Sabertooth Cat

 

 

 

 

 

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science located at 2201 Michigan Avenue in Cocoa. Exhibits throughout the museum portray different periods in Brevard County history beginning with the Paleo Hunters who lived during Florida’s Ice Age from 9,000 – 12,000 years ago. They used spears made of stone to hunt Mammoths and Mastodons. An exhibit of the tools on display. The Mastodon roamed in Florida between 10,000 – 12,000 years ago. The diet of the Mastodons consisted mainly of coniferous plants but the Mammoths ate plants but mostly grass. The Sabertooth Cat became extinct 11,500 years ago. The canine teeth shaped like a blade measured up to 7 inches.

 

 

 

 

The Taylor and Burnham families’ early settlers to Brevard County. Albert Taylor founded a bank and served as Cocoa’s second mayor. Grace Taylor taught herself braille and was the first braille transcriber in Brevard County. Captain Burnham an early settler from Vermont moved his family to Cape Canaveral in the early 1850s to live and work as a lighthouse keeper. The original lighthouse a 60-foot structure built in 1847. Construction of the 151-foot lighthouse started before the civil war but stopped during the war. Construction completed in the late 1860s.

Surfing has been popular on the Space Coast for one-hundred years. A map of all the surfing spots in Florida, the origins of surfing and a chronological account of the history of surfing.

A replica of a general store that sold everything from dry goods to horseshoes, coffee and perfumes. Early settlers to Brevard County worked in the turpentine, citrus, and tourism industry. They homesteaded and started their own orange groves. A Skeeter Beater made from hearts of cabbage used to swat the many mosquitos that the early settlers endured.

Steamships a popular mode of travel since the late 1820s. Passengers would board the steamships from Jacksonville to Titusville and dock at Titusville Landing or continue to Rockledge and dock at Rockledge Landing. Horses and wagons would take the guests to their hotels. After the railroad came in the mid-1880s, the train would take them directly to the hotel.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched in orbit on April 24, 1990 by the Space Shuttle Discovery. Atlantis the fifth and last orbiter to service the telescope in 2009. Posters along the wall describe in detail the Hubble’s features. The telescope named after Edwin Powell Hubble an astronomer who made important discoveries in astronomy.

Stop by the gift shop and browse the books on Florida History, Matted Hubble Prints, replicas of space shuttles and the usual items in a gift shop. I highly recommend the museum the docents at the museum made our visit more enjoyable. A butterfly garden and eight trails to explore all under 1 mile each. Call the museum before heading out, the trails closed because of Hurricane Irma.

Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum

Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum located at 4155 W. Vine St. in Kissimmee. Listen to the crying sounds of the Limpkin bird while learning about the native people that survived living in the cypress swamp. Coacoochee a Seminole Warrior fought in the Seminole Wars. From early hunting tools to the River otter, Raccoon, Alligator and the Panther an endangered species all found in the swamp.

Early settlers to Florida included the Cadman family from England who built a citrus packinghouse and Hamilton Disston a wealthy tycoon from Philadelphia who bought four million acres of land in Florida and built a sugar plantation. The Shakers, a religious community owned a commercial fishing and pineapple farm.Trains came to Kissimmee in the early 1880s. The rails eventually extended to Tampa. People would ride the train from Sanford to Kissimmee then stay at a downtown hotel. They would board the Steamer Lillie to take day trips or 4-day trips along the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

“Tin Can” tourists a name given to people who traveled to Florida in their cars, sometimes slept in tents and ate out of tin cans. An exhibit on display until October of this year show cooking utensils, bedrolls and other items necessary for traveling on the road. Trailer Topics, a magazine geared for people who owned trailers and a model of an early Airstream on display.

A replica of the 3,700-pound bronze sculpture on display at the Osceola County Courthouse that celebrates Osceola County’s Centennial.

 

 

 

 

Different species of mammals and reptiles found in the hammock. The Red Shouldered Hawk and the Yellow-bellied sapsucker a few of the birds found in hardwood and cypress trees. The Whopping Crane, an endangered bird, Osprey, a hawk and a Bald Eagle all popular with bird watchers. A replica of a Bald Eagle nest on display.

I walked around the museum and was in awe of the dioramas that are on display. The workmanship that went into building them is phenomenal. Stop inside the gift shop that is a replica of a steamship. Children’s books and books on the first one-hundred years. Jars of raw natural honey from the honey farm, coffee mugs and other items sold in the gift shop. Free entrance to the museum, donations accepted.

 

Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center

Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center located on the grounds of the MANN-WAGNON MEMORIAL PARK on 1101 East River Cove Street in Tampa. Sulphur Springs a community established in the late 1800s. The museum exhibit depicts the history of Sulphur Springs from the tourists who visited to the people who lived in the community.

People came from around the country for the therapeutic health benefits of the natural springs. Activities for the tourists who visited Sulphur Springs included a community pool that people watched competitive swimming and a Toboggan Slide. Reproductions of postcards of the era shown along the wall. The locals as well as the tourists would shop at the Arcade a Mediterranean style building. The Water Tower built in the late 1920s provided water for the increasing number of tourists who came to Sulphur Springs. In the late 1980s, the tower designated an historic landmark but no longer in use.

 

 

 

 

 

Urchins, Conchs, Sponges and other forms of sea life displayed in the aquarium exhibit. Walk through the museum and read the Poster Exhibits about Coral Reefs. “Coral Reefs are in Danger” and the eight ways to solve the problem. “Coral Reefs Nurseries of the Sea” show different species found in the reefs. The age, length and how food and shelter provide for the different fish species indicated in “Coral Reefs Are Amazing.”

A shark exhibit will dispel any misconceptions that people have about sharks. Seven species of sharks and 3 kinds of Hammerheads found in Tampa Bay.

 

 

 

 

Bring a picnic lunch and sit under a pavilion or under a garden trestle, relax while looking out at the Hillsborough River. Learn about the different sea creatures and other exhibits at the museum. Free admission to the museum, donations accepted.

Groveland Historical Museum

 

 

 

 

Groveland Historical Museum established in 2007 located at 243 S. Lake Avenue in Groveland. Our museum guides born and raised in Groveland would point to the photographs and articles throughout the museum that tell a story of early Taylorville, Groveland Commerce and Groveland Early Leaders.

Groveland originally named Taylorville after the Taylor brothers who built a turpentine still. The Taylor brothers, Edge Family who built a mercantile, a lumber mill, and the Arnold family who purchased the lumber mill from the Edge family all early pioneers to Groveland.

Groveland High School built in 1937 by the Work Progress Administration (WPA) during the depression. Famous graduates from Groveland High School included Edmond “Darrell” Cashwell a scientist with the Manhattan Project, Austin “Red” Robbins a professional basketball player who played with 5 professional basketball teams and Derrick Graham, a football player who played with the National Football League. A coach and teacher at Groveland High School played professional baseball with the minor leagues during the summer months.

The bank closed in Groveland during the depression. Our guide told us that Mr. Edge had a safe in his mercantile store and during the depression; people would bring envelopes with money for him to put in his safe.

As the story goes, while living in the old west, George McClellan Myers won a horse race against Apache Chief Geronimo. He was town marshal in Groveland in the 1920s and 30s. Police Chief Tommy Merrill who retired in 2012 after 43 years of service was the longest running police chief in the United States.

I recommend the museum a lot of history for a small town. Free admission to the museum, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

After visiting the museum, walk across the street to the park. Enjoy a picnic lunch in a gazebo while looking out at the lake.

Polk County Historical Museum

Polk County Historical Museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places located at 100 East Main Street in Bartow. Polk County named after James Polk the eleventh president of the United States. The third courthouse built on this site served the county from 1908 until 1987. After a period of restoration, the museum opened in the late 1990s.

Permanent and temporary exhibits throughout the museum. Jacob Summerlin an early pioneer donated land to the development of downtown Bartow. Eight industries supported the early settlers of Polk County. Photographs and labels chronicles the history of the first European families and the first African American families.

People boarded the Atlantic Coastline Railroad in Polk County to Lake Alfred, Florence Villa, Eagle Lake and Bartow. Five railroads served Polk County from the mid-1880s to the mid-1990s when they merged with other railroads. A map of the route and memorabilia from the Atlantic Coastline Railroad.

The citrus industry in Polk County from crates to packinghouses to shipping. The history of baseball in Polk County. First came the tin can tourists people who lived out of their vehicle for months eating canned food. Built in the late 1920s, the first tin can trailer called an Airstream contained a stove and an ice chest. A map and other gear for the road exhibited.

A children’s gallery, a natural beauty exhibit featuring local photographers and a gallery dedicated to Women in Fashion from the early twentieth century. A room dedicated to the men and women from Polk County who served in the armed services in WWII. So much to see a return visit is recommended. Admission is free, hours of operation on the website.

 

Marion County Museum of History and Archaeology

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places the Marion County Museum of History and Archaeology located at 307 SE 26th Terrace in Ocala. Formerly a detention center for delinquent girls Marion County purchased the building in the mid-1980s for use as a historical museum.

Thousands of years of history from the Paleo-Indians to the present. The Corsiglia Collection, an exhibit that include shell artifacts to the Henderson Collection that include bone artifacts.

Different rooms depict a timeline of events in Marion County history. The Spanish Conquis-tadors and the contact between Native Americans. An exhibit during the Colonial Period display a map of Marion County and a copy of the Treaty of Payne’s Landing with the United States Government and the Seminole Indians in 1832. The Civil War Period that details the war effort.

Hubbard Hart operated the steamboats in the late 19th and early 20th century. A map of the Ocklawaha River shows the routes the steamboats took. The route took passengers from Palatka to Silver Springs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, President Ulysses S. Grant, and Thomas Edison some of the famous passengers.

Photographs of Ocala from the late 19th century and a map of Marion County in the early 1890s. Since the mid-1800s, Silver Springs has been a tourist destination. Early pictures of Silver Springs line the walls.

The New Deal Programs during the Great Depression benefitted Marion County that show photographs of the Cross Florida Ship Canal.

Turn the postcard stand for Old Ocala reproduction postcards. Books on Silver Springs underwater photography prints, autographed books, and posters for sale. Artwork that line the walls for sale that benefit the museum. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.