Orange County Regional History Center
Orlando Travel Tip
ORANGE COUNTY REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER
WHO: Orange County and the Orange County Historical Society, with support from the City of
Orlando, the State of
Florida and donations from private individuals working together to develop the area as a History
Center for all of Central
WHAT: Heritage Square and the Orange County Regional History Center
With pop jet fountains and pools of water created in the likeness of Rock Springs and a
state-of-the-art stage and
sound system, Heritage Square will play host to concerts and festivals as well as picnic lunches
and socializing. Visitors
will be overwhelmed by the hundreds of shady and abundant bald cypress trees and plants of all
kinds blanketing the
park. Also featured is a bronze statue of Bunk Baxter, famous for wrestling wild alligators in
downtown Orlando in 1884.
To experience "old" Florida, three large, bronze alligators, like the ones Baxter made famous,
challenge visitors to a
wrestling match. The 15-foot high "postcard" sculpture pictures scenes from Orlando's tourism
days B.D. (before
Disney). Heritage Square also leads guests to the front steps of the Orange County Regional
Located in the former 1927 Orange County Courthouse, the History Center features
state-of-the-art exhibits and
interactive displays. From the First Peoples, or the prehistoric natives, the Seminole Tribe,
settlers, cattlemen and
citrus-grove owners to transportation, tourism and aviation, the History Center features the rich
history of Central Florida, and the impact of its people and industries.
As visitors enter the History Center they will notice the eye-popping, three-dimensional "Orange
accented with memorabilia of Central Florida's heritage, and a gigantic map of the world created
in several different
colored terrazzo tiles. The entrance hall features the ticket counter, gift shop and space to
accommodate up to 250
people for special events.
Dome - The dynamic 3-D orange metal arch features more than 200 images and characters
representing Central Florida's
past and present communities. The dome includes a model Space Shuttle, manatees, Native
Americans, cattle, a moving
riverboat paddle wheel and a moving train.
Visitors are then led to the fourth floor where their adventure back in time begins with an
audio/visual presentation of
the sights and sounds of Florida.
Orientation Theatre - Visitors will be amazed by the 14-minute spectacle of sight and sound,
taking them through an
assorted display of Central Florida's creatures, businesses and people. A typical Central Florida
screened back porch,
with rocking chairs, is the setting for the presentation. After the multi-media presentation,
visitors enter the first
exhibition, the Natural Environment.
Natural Environment - Transported back in time nearly 12,000 years, visitors walk through the
replica of a cave into
Florida's setting before man. They then view the changes which have occurred in Florida's
through a rotating, life-sized tree, visitors get a first hand look of what Florida looks like today
and what is being done to
protect the environment for future generations. Also displayed here are a sinkhole and the many
creatures and bugs
that make up Central Florida surroundings.
The First Peoples - Interacting with the prehistoric natives, visitors watch as lifecast figures
gather food from a shell
mitten. Visitors learn the way of life for these first "Floridians," who were here 10,000 years
ago. The model of an 1,000
year-old canoe is on display and visitors are invited to be an archeologist for the day.
European Contact - As told from the first peoples point-of-view, visitors see the life-changing
impact on the original
inhabitants of Florida, as it occurred 500 years ago with the arrival of Europeans.
Seminole Tribe, Native Americans - Visitors view a life-size chickee, or palmetto-covered hut,
filled with artifacts that
illustrate the way of life for these Native Americans who were forced from their northern homes
Colonists settled in Georgia and the Carolinas. Also described here are Florida's historic
Seminole Indian wars and how
the Seminoles have learned to adapt in the past 200 years.
Settler Life - Visitors can churn butter, press oranges, walk through a replica cabin and touch
utensils. This exhibit is
hands-on, with a touchable moss-filled bed and enough room in the exhibit to accommodate a
visiting school group.
Also featured here are two interactive lifecast figures that tell the story of settler life.
Cattle Industry - A lifecast figure of a Cracker cowboy shares tales of life on the flat Central
Florida range through the
telling of vivid campfire stories.
Citrus Industry - A citrus tree, with lifecast figures picking fruit, is the first view of this industry
for visitors. Orange juice
commercial jingles play in the background and Anita Bryant sings "Come to the Florida Sunshine
Tree." Visitors meet
the famous citrus grower and entrepreneur Dr. Phillips, the 1930's "Citrus King," and also view
the first patented rubber
tire tractor in the U.S.
Courtroom B and Grand Jury Room - The stately, oak-paneled courtroom makes for an exciting,
interactive classroom for
notable courtroom trial reenactments such as the courtroom scene from the book "To Kill a
Mockingbird." The richly
paneled American Walnut Grand Jury Room is used to recreate trials and appeals, and is also
available as a formal
Transportation - Visitors walk through an open 19th century railroad car where they discover the
impact of steam
boating and Port Sanford The impact of the development of major railroads, highways and roads
Florida is also highlighted by enlightening artifacts, photos, maps and documents from this
Tourism - Here, the dramatic lighting sets the scene for different times of day. Visitors meet
"Betty the Tourist" in her
Model T. She gives a presentation about her trip from Ohio and an interactive stage allows
guests to repack her camper
after her six-month visit to the land of sunshine.
Land Boom - Included here is a look at how Pine Hills and Maitland neighborhoods were
developed by Martin
Marietta's employees, who began new lives in Central Florida in the late 1960's. Visitors
experience the land boom by
watching a real-estate agent talking on the phone trying to sell Central Florida's land.
Aviation - A life-size WWII bomber wing is overhead as visitors discover the impact of McCoy
AirForce Base, Martin
Marietta, and the space industry. A Patriot Missile, which was developed in Central Florida,
along with other aviation
firsts are on exhibit.
The Day We Changed - Visitors learn about the arrival and growth of Walt Disney World.
Featured are the pros and
cons of its development and the attraction's impact on Central Florida, the nation and the world.
A crane installing the
top of Cinderella's Castle is on display, and is depicted in the exhibit. In their own words,
residents share their opinions
about the changing Central Florida.
The Place We Live - Visitors discover the people of Florida, including their organizations,
religions, communities and
businesses. They see eclectic exhibits celebrating Central Florida's famous and amazing
residents, including a Noble
Prize winner and astronauts. Visitors can also learn more about Central Florida through a
computer kiosk, where they can
investigate information presented in the Center and leave information about their own lives.
Dome - Originally seen from the entrance, visitors get a closer look at the artifacts and themes
Florida. It also makes a great discussion topic for an interactive classroom or tour.
National Traveling Exhibits - Visitors will continue to be surprised by the other half of the
second floor with new,
different and exciting exhibits from all over the nation. One upcoming exhibit will feature pirate
treasures and sunken
gold from the Mel Fisher Museum in Key West.
The fifth floor is home to the Historical Society's extensive library and archives the research
center contains priceless
historical documents and a photo archive containing over 18,000 images of the local past
showcasing the changing
streets of Orlando. Provided as a service to the public, there are tables, computers and library
staff available for
researchers and students alike to gather any needed information. Also, a conference room which
seats up to thirty
people, can be rented for a nominal fee.
PROGRAMS: The Orange County Regional History Center evokes mystery and intrigue as
visitors interact through
the vast number of educational programs, services and resources for school groups, families,
residents and researchers
alike. The History Center's educational programs are designed for adults and children. Its
research center and library
contain more than 2,000 books and maps, a plat book, over 18,000 photographs, some 17,500
postcards, 40,000 artifacts
and other public records dating from the 1840's, and is a free service to the public. Other
programs include special
events, fundraisers, festivals, concerts, the speaker's bureau and facility rentals.
PARTNERS: This project has been financed as a public-private partnership with Orange
County Government and the
Orange County Historical Society, the City of Orlando and the Downtown Orlando Development
assistance is provided in part by the State of Florida through the Florida State Department,
Division of Cultural Affairs,
the Florida Arts Council, and the Division of Historical Resources with additional support from
Preservation Advisory Board.
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