Join the Boca Grande Historical Society’s bus trip to the Tampa Bay History Center on Tuesday, Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The $75 fee includes admission, a docent guided tour and lunch with C. J. Roberts, the museum’s director, on the terrace of the Columbia Café above Tampa’s River Walk. Tickets are available by visiting the Boca Grande Historical Society at 170 Park Avenue (next to Boca Bargains) or by calling 941-964-1600.
Exhibition galleries cover 500 years of recorded history and 12,000 years of human habitation in the Tampa Bay region. Tools, weapons, and pottery of Florida’s First People, the Tocobaga and the Calusa tribes, are on display. Seminole and Miccosukee artifacts, including clothing, patchwork, jewelry, baskets, tools and weapons, are a part of another exhibit which includes a multi sensory theater experience, Coacoochee’s Story. A replica chickee, a native structure made of a cypress frame covered with palmetto thatch is on display.
A documentary profiles some of the first European Explorers including Panfilo de Narvaez, the first European explorer to land near Tampa Bay in 1528. An oversized map of the Atlantic Ocean traces the paths of Spanish and French explorers who arrived in Florida at the beginning of the 16th Century. The display includes artifacts that relate to Spanish exploration including period clothing, weapons and tools.
Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered, the most popular account of Florida pioneer life, inspired an exhibit which features a replica of a pioneer cabin and original artifacts from the early days of white settlement, including a Discovery Center where children can try on period clothes and play “hands on” games.
Patrick Smith’s son Rick will discuss A Land Remembered on Tuesday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m. in the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium as part of the Boca Grande History Society’s Lecture Series. Remember “Hava Tampa?” The famous cigar is part of the Ybor City story, the immigration of Cubans cigar makers to the Tampa area in the 1920s. Learn about the class conflicts and cultural clashes that ensued. See a model of the West Tampa cigar factory and cigar manufacturing and label printing equipment. Why did the cigar makers immigrate to Tampa and not Miami? Come and find out. Do you know what a Florida Cracker is? It’s not something to nibble on. Experience an actual cattle drive at Lightsey Ranch in Kissimmee and you will find out.
While you’re there check out the branding irons, whips, saddles and other cattle ranch gear. Kids can pretend to brand a cow and ride a horse. As early as the 1880s Tampa residents expressed interest in preserving the historical record of Hillsborough County whose boundaries stretched from Ocala to Lake Okeechobee and St. Petersburg to Orlando. It took about 100 years for their hopes to be realized. In 1986 a task force was formed by the Hillsborough County Commission to study the feasibility of establishing a regional history museum.
By 1989 a group of private citizens led by Tampa businessman J. Thomas Touchton established The History Museum of Tampa-Hillsborough County Inc as a not-for-profit. The museum’s first space was located on Franklin Street. In 2006, when it became clear that more space was needed, a capital campaign to raise funds for a new building was undertaken. By October of 2007, $32 million was raised to create a new home for the museum in historically significant Fort Brooke reservation, the birthplace of modern Tampa.
The museum’s grand opening was held in January 2009. In 2011 the museum met the exacting criteria of the Smithsonian Institution and gained the status of an affiliate. It received a Silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2012. This year it was accredited by the American Association of Museums.
Mary Bess Boca Grande Historical Society Boca Grande