Where Time Stops Everyday
By Contributing Writer Donna Malloy
Photo/Caption by Donna Malloy
Not far from the bustle of speeding cars on Walsingham Avenue is a place where time stops every day. Here, children are allowed to explore and run free and parents can feel good because their children are learning something; history.
Historic homes such as the "House of Seven Gables" as well as Henry Plant's "Plant-Sumner House" (circa 1896) grace this 21-acre living history museum called Heritage Village in Largo, FL.
What originally began as a school program in Pinellas County for Grades K-8 is now available to everyone. Families can POP (Pieces of the Past Stations) into history at their leisure and "Enter-act" at various outdoor stations, surrounded by swaying pines and 25 historical structures.
The first Station: Sulphur Spring Train Depot. Here children read their assignment from the lid of the barrel and proceed to the luggage cart. Piled high are various shapes and sizes of luggage similar to what travelers to Florida would have carried onto the train in the old days.
Sweating in the Florida sun, the children proceed to drag the cart over to the Sulphur Spring Train platform and prepare for the trains arrival. This hands-on learning station draws on the historic theme of tourism.
The next Station on the POP Tour is the washboards. Enthusiastically, children fill metal washtubs with water and begin washing the clothes. Scrubbing the clothes on the washboard, they wring them out and hang them to dry in the hot Florida sun. This is a place where children get all fired up about laundry!
"They usually arrive with a limited attention span" stated Tracy Spikes, Curator of Education for Heritage Village. But once they start Enter-action and their imagination takes over, "they become very enthusiastic, especially at the Sharpie."
On their way to their next adventure, the children pass the McMullen-Coachman log cabin. Built circa 1852, this home is the oldest existing structure in Pinellas County. After developing tuberculosis, James McMullen built this log cabin with plenty of ventilation in mind. The logs are loosely joined together to allow cross ventilation and the windows did not originally have window panes.
The McMullen-Coachman house has survived 6 fires and 11 children and so have their kitchen chairs that are on display near the hearth in the kitchen.
Arriving at the Moore House, the children begin tilling the soil to prepare for planting. Pumping water from the "well," they proceed to water the tomatoes and assorted green leafy vegetables.
Sitting on the porch of the Moore House is a fellow Time Traveler who explains what life was like back then and how the appearance of the railroad forever changed the way Floridians lived.
Another home, the (Daniel) McMullen House, built in 1868, is the oldest continuously lived-in home in Pinellas County. Daniel and his brother James were experts at herding cattle and meat smoking. During the Civil War, the brothers joined the Confederate Cow Calvary and from 1861 thru 1865 brought livestock to the Confederate troops. On one trip alone, the brothers herded 365 cows traveling 8-1/2 miles per day.
Tom Sawyer comes alive at the Sharpie Station. Here the children load the grounded sailboat with the appropriate supplies for a fishing trip. They cast off and away they go; only limited by their imagination.
The best part about Heritage Village is the cost to experience historical places in time; it's free. On Saturday, January 10th, Heritage Village would like to invite you and your family to attend their "Family Fun Afternoon" from 1 to 3 p.m. Activities will include building a cattle pen or picking, loading and sorting citrus from the grove at the Lowe Barn. For more information: www.pinellascounty.org/heritage or call 727-582-2426.
Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th Street North, Largo and is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Photo/Caption by Donna Malloy
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