Sanford Student Museum & Public History Center Tour!

I recently started going through and organizing the many folders of photos on my computer, phone and external hard drive. I have a horrible habit of saving things to my desktop, unorganized, and then once my desktop is full, I lump every photo and thing saved into a folder named after the current month. Understandably, this is not a very organized method of sorting my computer files, haha. I am nowhere near finished even though I’ve been working on this task off and on for about a month now, but I am closer than when I started!

The great part about this whole thing is that some of the photos I’m finding are ones I haven’t seen in a couple of years! It’s so weird to look back and see the physical changes in myself and people around me when in my head, the events happening were “not too long ago” and feel really recent. I’m finding vacation photos, pictures of the dogs all as puppies, stuff from when I lived in other states – it’s been a looooong trip down memory lane!

In these, I found a bunch of pictures I took last year during my Fall school semester. For one of my education classes, I took a tour of a local student museum – the Sanford Student Museum & Public History Center. Nick came with me for the tour, and I took lots of pictures of everything we saw! I had to write a blog post about it, and meant to cross post it over here because it was a really great visit, but I guess it slipped my mind! I did end up getting a great grade on the assignment, I’m happy to say! 😀

The building was founded in 1902 and was originally built to be a local high school. Since it’s such an old place, it was actually registered on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1984! It currently serves as a great resource for students in the local area looking to broaden their knowledge of Sanford’s history, and some of our overall country’s history as well.

The building is surrounded by a super quaint neighborhood, a public park area and lots of themed gardens featuring things that might have been grown according to the different decades and centuries explained within the museum.
The inside is broken up into several separate rooms or areas that explain a specific time period, and how people lived back then. Rooms have informational plaques, activities to promote comprehension and understanding, and a variety of unique ways of looking back into how the people of our country’s history once lived, learned and made their lives.
When we arrived, we met with a coordinator who graciously took us on a tour of the first few rooms, explaining how they were set up and which path to take on my visit through the times represented.
The first room is set up as a Native American room, giving an amazing glimpse into the tools used, food eaten and homes that were built during that time. The walls are covered with an excellently painted mural of what typical life would have been, complete with hunters, children gathering berries and coexistent living with various animals.
The next room features Pioneers and Colonial America. Log cabins, pulled covered wagons and new discoveries like churned butter and the weaving loom are on display. Students that take the tour are encouraged to think of what they’d do if they lived in that time – they are presented with scenarios and asked questions based on what they choose.
You can even enter a log cabin, and see how the inside may have been set up! A fireplace with a mantle was set up, and tools of the time were on display to showcase what sort of everyday items you’d use if you lived then. It was such a cool experience – it’s one thing to read about another time, but to be in a physical recreation of it and to really feel like you’re there is something else entirely!
We visited the upstairs area next, where there was a giant classroom set up with lots of artifacts and things used in our history – cooking utensils, buttons, dolls, all kinds of things! The old pots and pans were preserved pretty well for how dated they were, and some of them weren’t too different from large stock pots people use today!
Back downstairs, we headed to another wing of the building, added on after the initial construction to the main building was finished. This room featured an actual old classroom, with chalkboards for student work, examples of the things students would learn at the time, and desks all set up. It was like stepping back into history!
(The Dunce cap was one of my favorite things to see, haha!)
In the second to last room, we saw America through the through earlier times, ravaged by world wars, racism and oppression. It was interesting to see how different things were – even the electronics and clothing from the time were lining shelves, displayed to show how far technology and fashion has come.
One area housed a little chair and radio set up, as if a family would soon be in for one of FDR’s fireside chats. Can I again say how odd it is to feel like you’re in another time?! Newspaper clippings and current events of the time were all over the walls and desks, along with advertisements for soda and malt shakes.


Our last room was set up to be informative about Florida and geography. Latitude and longitude lessons, a giant puzzle in which you can add the cities and name the lakes and rivers of Florida! (We got the cities all right, but screw those wily river names!)

Overall, it was a great experience and looking back on it now fills me with the same appreciation for the kind of life and way of learning that I’m privileged enough to have. I didn’t even know something so neat was located so close to where I live, and I’m grateful for the assignment since I was able to learn so much more about a place I’ve spent the last few years of my life!
I’m definitely interested to check out what other local gems may be hidden that I don’t know about – and I urge everyone that reads this to do the same! Many communities have historic museums and locations that are usually either free or donation driven to support the location, and you can learn so much from some of these places! Google around or check your city’s web page. 🙂

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