Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pioneer Florida Museum

A mile north of Dade City, Florida just off of Highway 301 stands The Pioneer Florida Museum and Village.
It's origins go back to 1961 when a large donation of antique farm equipment and vehicles was made to the Pasco County Fair Association by a prominent citizen of San Antonio, Florida.  Soon after came the formation of the Pioneer Florida Museum Association.  The association is dedicated to the preservation of artifacts and buildings from Florida's pioneering years, the 1840s through whenever air conditioning was invented which made the settling of Florida more accessible to those who were not of hardy pioneering stock. 

There is a large steel building housing most of the exhibits and what is most probably some of the original vehicles and tools donated back in 1961. 

The remainder of the 16 acres  is occupied by The village which includes a one room school house, the Overstreet House, the Trilby Depot (complete with train), an old timey church and a working cane syrup mill where demonstrations are held that visitors can witness how cane syrup was made back in the 19th century and even purchase the finished product later at the museum gift shop.

The Pioneer Florida Museum and Village is located at 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, Dade City, Florida.  Dade City itself is about an hours drive north of Tampa on Highway 301. The museum and grounds are open  Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00AM-5:00PM, closing for major holidays.  It also hosts special events throughout the year.  For more information click the link provided below.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her husband bought and moved to the 72 acre property near Cross Creek Florida in 1928.   Her first published writings about life in cracker Florida soon caught the attention of Scribner publisher Maxwell Perkins.  As he mentored Rawlings she got to know  the people and their ways living in the wilderness known as the Big Scrub country. 

Rawlings did most of her writing, including The Yearling and Cross Creek, seated at a round table on her front porch.   The Yearling, published in 1939, would win Rawlings the Pulitzer Prize and earn her world wide recognition. 
Upon her death in 1953 her home and property was bequeathed to the University of Florida where she also had taught creative writing. 
The home was added to The National Register of Historic Places in 1970.  The park is open seven days a week for people who want to hike around and the house for guided tours from Thursday through Sunday.  From Tampa and points south take I-75 North most of the way or Highway 301 all of it and turn left on CR 325 heading west about four miles and the park will be on the left. Just a little ways further up CR 325 is The Yearling Restaurant.  From what I understand they serve an outstanding key lime pie.   Click the provided link below for more info.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eureka Springs Regional Park

Eureka Springs Regional Park, established 1967 on land donated by Albert Greensburg, is described as a hidden gem by the St Petersburg Times, rightfully so considering all the turns and twists in the roads one must take to get there.  Located on Eureka Springs Road just down the street from Tampa Executive Airport still called by some Vandenburg Airport.  It was developed by Mr Greensburg into a Botanical Garden and kept up by the Hillsborough County Parks system. 

There is a greenhouse surrounded by lush flowering plants and a large butterfly garden down a shell path near a green pool popular with hummingbirds and pollunating insects(the lush plant life, not so much the green pool).  Other highlights include a boardwalk that meanders from the pool and back around to the greenhouse, a covered bridge crossing a lily padded stream and a large pavilion available for events. 
The park is open 9-5 week days and 8-6 on Saturday and Sunday.   Head east on Sligh Ave from Highway 301 and hang a right on Maple Lane which becomes Eureka Springs Road after a couple of miles and the park will be about half a mile or so up on the left after the turnoff for Frontage Road.  Or take Frontage Road from Williams Road which connects to Highway 92, or just use google maps.  The address is 6400 Eureka Springs Road, Tampa, Florida.  More information is available by clicking the link provided below.    

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Gamble Plantation Historic State Park

Gamble Mansion built 1845-1850
Gamble Plantation is located on 16 acres just off of Highway 301 in Manatee County, Florida. It is the last surviving antebellum mansion in south Florida built by Major Robert Gamble, who came to homestead in Florida shortly after the end of the Seminole War of 1842. From 160 acres originally granted to Major Gamble it grew to 3500 acres and a prosperous sugar mill operation along the banks of the Manatee River until 1864 when the mill was destroyed by Union raiders. Confederate blockade runner Captain Archibald McNeill occupied the home during the war. Former Confederate Secretary of State Judah P Benjamin took refuge there while in flight from Federal authorities after the war until he made his escape to the Bahamas with the aid of Captain McNeill. 
Patten House built 1872
The land was owned for a time after the war by George Patten who built his own house on the grounds because the mansion was in too poor a condition to live in.
40,000 gallon cistern
Bed in upstairs bedroom
 In 1923 the Judah P Benjamin chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy started a campaign to raise money to save and restore the badly deteriorating mansion. Restoration was completed in 1927 and a plaque honoring Benjamin was installed in 1937. The mansion was added to The National Register of Historic Places in
Kitchen in separate building from mansion
1970. The grounds are open to the public Thursday through Monday from 9am until 5pm with guided tours twice daily. It is located at 3708 Patten Ave in Ellenton, Florida. For more information follow the provided link.