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Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Ground Up: Museum of Seminole County History

I try to embrace all aspects of culture when I live somewhere that’s so rich in it. Here in Florida as residents we see thousands of people everyday travel to theme parks with their families, emptying the bank sometimes to bring a family a four. However, what about the rest of the culture lost, when tourists fail to see the true beauty of Florida Heritage. It’s our duty to embrace the history of our country and it seems our visions of the past get lost along the way.

At the Museum of Seminole County History it is no different. I arrived to an empty parking lot along with only a few other guests roaming the halls of this fascinating establishment. The lady at the front desk was lovely and charismatic, thrilled to see some faces, and took it as a sign that we were really interested in what was presented, and we were.

I was out of my comfort zone mind you, because my knowledge of history stems from Pre-history, Medieval, and the Classics. I admitted this to our guide, so it was important for me to embrace the images, artifacts and stories, all scattered throughout the museum. The 18th through the 20th century of Seminole Country was a time capsule of irrigation networks, black cowboys, weird and wonderful ghost stories, old farming tools, and a charming old wagon with wooden wheels.

What struck me as fascinating is that the Museum of Seminole County History started as an Old Folk's Home. Built in 1926, it was certainly a reminder that time passes quickly and is certainly changing. It’s believed that this structure is the last "Old Folks Home” in Florida. The construction on the outside, or rather the walls, are called “pebble dash”, which qualified it to be on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1925, there was no social security, so the elderly and indigent needed a place to live. The country commissioners approved this country home to be used for the poor. Dining rooms were built, separating black and white residents. All the guests had their own set of chores and responsibilities, so in an essence, the exchange of labor for a comfortable abode, allowed them to lead a comfortable life.

One of my first jobs was in a nursing home and my mother worked in one for close to 20 years. Even in the 90’s, the residents were secluded in their rooms, only coming down for meals and a few activities, planned by a 20 something activities' coordinator. It seemed like a lonely existence even then, yet I can see how the mutual activities in 1926 at this “Old Folks Home” may have created some closer bonds.

The Seminole County Museum of History is not to be confused with Seminole Indian history, although the Seminole Indians do have presence here, and we certainly can’t forget that. The front room displays some archaic artifacts, Ice Age phosphates, Folsom points, stone chopper tools, Pleistocene Alligator Scutes, and gourds and clothing.

Sanford, the location of the Museum of Seminole County History, was called “Celery City” in the early 1900’s and was the celery capital. Sanford was a "Gateway City" to the interior of Central Florida. It was also a transportation center for both rail and steamboats. It's military role began at Fort Mellon and culminated more than 100 years later with the Sanford Air Station in World War II.

For a complete visual tour of the Museum of Seminole County History, I urge you to watch the video I composed. It's about 3 minutes long, so grab a cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy!

Photography of the Museum of Seminole County History

Merchant adding machine circa 1911 made in Oakland California. The 1st calculator to be used in Seminole County by Mary Earle Walker February 22, 1916.

The Zorba Computer was one of the first commuters built by General Electronics in Longwood, Florida. It was a Telecon Zorba computer pre-IBM PCA era, and it was demoted when laptop computers were developed and were more portable.At one time, these computers were actually conveniently luggable.

$3.21 Adults (tax included)
$1.07 Children 4-18 and students (tax included)
Children under 4 admitted free
Self-guided Tours are available on request with admission.
1:00PM to 5:00PM

9:00AM to 1:00PM
300 Bush Boulevard
Sanford, FL 32773
Phone: (407) 665-2489

Driving Directions

Related Articles

When people think of the earliest Indians in Florida, they typically think of the Seminoles. However, Europeans had arrived in Florida over 200 years prior before the Seminoles ever migrated to Florida from Georgia during the beginning of the 18th century.

In 1835, the Seminole Indians raided the Cruger and Depeyster Sugar Mill, running off the overseer in the process. They burned the entire complex and destroyed other plantations throughout the region with the assistance of the the sugar mill slaves themselves.

At first, when you walk through the gates of the Dunlawton Plantation in Port Orange Florida it's as if you've passed through the gates of a mystical land. The birds are singing, flowers and exotic plants are blooming, and footsteps of confederate soldiers can be heard while they make their way to the arching Confederate Oak tree to camp for the night.

Read More: Dunlawton Plantation

All photos-with the exception of the Zorba- are © Ancient Digger 2011.


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