Friday, March 18, 2016

Return to the Historical Village of Pinellas County

In my first posting of this historical village I wrote about several of the historical structures which can be found in this 21- acre living history museum.  On this return trip to the Historical Village we took some time in the museum of the Visitor's Center to get more of a understanding of the history of Pinellas County at the turn of the twentieth century.  At the time of the Civil War Sea Island cotton was the main crop shipped out to other parts of the country.  After the Civil War large cattle ranches sprung up, and agricultural products as sugar cane, cabbage, sweet potatoes, navy beans, corn and watermelon were grown.  After cotton to cattle this part of Florida then found its wealth could be found in the citrus industry.
Pictured above is a 1916 International Truck, known by many as a "Goat" because of its maneuverability around  the groves.  It was one of a fleet of five owned by a citrus grower, and is the only one of the fleet to have survived.  From the museum we started touring other buildings which we had missed in our previous visit.  Our history lesson regarding the economy of Florida continued at an old train depot.
Business ventures, as the citrus crops, as well as tourism,  flourished with the growth of the railroad in Florida.  Pictured above is the Sulphur Springs Depot, built in 1924.  Of interest is smaller end of the building, built for African Americans.  Jim Crow laws were in effect (rules regarding separation of the races)  at this time and African Americans had a separate room to sit in while waiting for their train.  The one bathroom in the depot was for "whites only".  John and I took a ride on one of the old historical trains of Florida a few weeks back, and one of the cars on the train we rode was once designated as a Jim Crow car.
Brought back memories of my childhood in Houston when I saw water fountains for "whites only".
And now back to the history of citrus in Florida.  Solomon Coachman, a citrus grower in the early 1900s, wisely allowed the railroad to come through his property.  He then expanded his orange groves, and built a large packing plant for the fruit.  Needless to say, he did well in the citrus industry.  He owned the log cabin, pictured above, which was built in 1852.  He bought it in 1902 and "modernized" it by adding windows.  It is the oldest standing structure in Pinellas County.
One last interesting building here is a grocery store, which resided in the Mound Park neighborhood of St.Petersburg from 1915 to 1955.  It sold a variety of groceries, as well as clothing and a variety of other necessities.  Sometimes the various owners lived in a part of the building, and other times small businesses as a butcher shop and bakery were located in the building.  The museum placed a gas station in the back of the  building, with a service department.  I found the parts department interesting, especially the price of gas!

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