The Palmetto Historical Park is now home to several buildings originally in Palmetto's Historic District. Our 1880 post office was right down the street on the Manatee River. The school house was part of Palmetto Elementary -- just a block away.
One building had a particularly short trip to join our collection. The cottage house was across the street from the Manatee County Agricultural Museum, which is within Palmetto Historical Park, in the back of what is now Sutton Park. So the cottage only had to cross Sixth Street to get to its new home in Palmetto Historical Park.
With the cottage d inside the park, the historical commission began restoration work. The Heritage Doll Club of Manatee County held a "doll challenge" to help commission founder Josephine Harrison raise funds for the project. The challenge was to take a half-yard of muslin and a simple three-piece pattern and create up to four dolls representative of early Florida. Some dolls were used in vignettes displayed inside the cottage. The rest were sold to help raise restoration funds during the museum dedication Nov. 15, 1998.
The now fully restored cottage, built around 1900, shows our visitors a slice of early family life in Palmetto. The cottage is a typical style and size home for Palmetto.
The tiny kitchen is not an original feature, but was added sometime after the home was built. The first occupants either cooked in the home's small fireplace, or had a detached kitchen. Detached kitchens were common at that time. Being separated from the rest of the house was safer since wood-burning stoves are quite a fire hazard. It also kept the main house cooler during Florida's extremely hot summers.
A couple of days a week during the school year, park staff members are happy to welcome local elementary students to our free school program. In the cottage museum, children are asked to figure out what important room is missing. Imagine their horror to discover that, while yes, they are correct, there is no TV room -- even more importantly, there is no bathroom!
The students are also surprised to discover how different their days would be if their homes didn't have electricity. Seeing the building firsthand really gets the wheels in their heads turning. We're grateful to those who had the forethought to include this educational building in the collection.
The last family to live in the cottage was the Stephens family. Mr. Stephens was a local firefighter. During that time, the ag museum building was the home of Palmetto's fire department. So, Mr. Stephens lived right across the street from where he worked. This was very convenient for him and his family. When firefighters are on duty, they generally sleep at the fire station. They are onsite and ready to go should an emergency occur. Because Mr. Stephens lived so close, he was able to sleep at home. If they needed him, they would give him a call and he'd be there in a jiffy.
Palmetto has been lucky throughout its history to have dedicated first responders like Mr. Stephens. On April 16, the Palmetto Historical Commission will be hosting an event to honor these "Everyday Heroes." A ceremony thanking our first responders will be held at 1 p.m. followed by many fun, family friendly activities sponsored by the Manatee County Sheriff's Department, the Palmetto Police Department, Manatee County's Emergency Medical Services, and the North River Fire Department. The day's excitement will include fun giveaways, a kid's firefighter challenge, interesting vehicles such as a fire truck, an EMS ambulance -- even a helicopter! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Amanda Polson, Palmetto Historical Park supervisor, grew up in Palmetto and feels historic because her high school annual is part of the museum's permanent collection. Email her at email@example.com or call her at 941-723-4991.