Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, St. Pete Beach
If you’re heading to St. Pete Beach on your ‘Sunshine State’ getaway then you probably already have a pretty good idea of what you’ll be doing when you get there – the clue is in the name. Firstly, they don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothing, with the region receiving between 2,800 and 3,200 hours of sunshine a year. Secondly, it’s St. Pete Beach, and the beaches in this part of the world do indeed live up to the hype, with miles upon miles of glorious white sand and sparkling, blue seas.
But if you fancy short spell away from the sun, sea and sand during your holiday, why not check out the charming Gulf Beaches Historical Museum nestled away in Pass-a-Grille, the delightful National Historic District of St. Pete Beach. Housed in a attractive former church, the first one to be constructed in the barrier islands of Pinellas County, the museum was a private home from 1959 up until 1989 when the owner, a Mrs. Joan Haley gifted it to the county for use as a museum.
The museum opened its doors to visitors in 1993 and has continued to be managed by a committee of local volunteers and the ‘Friends of the Museum’ for the purpose of bringing together the island’s heritage. The growing collection of artefacts is now preserved and exhibited for the community and tourists alike to enjoy and includes a fascinating array of materials, telling the intriguing story of the location’s history.
Take a look at early photographs, postcards and newspaper clippings depicting life in the local area from the turn of the 20th century, the memorabilia of local schools, along with artefacts and objects relating the heritage of the historic and impressive Don Cesar Hotel. There is also an truly interesting World War II exhibition that offers a glimpse of the role local people played in shaping those important world events. Learn the fascinating story of Silas Dent, the legendary hermit of Cabbage Key, or if you are lucky, you might be able to catch one of the captivating historical lectures that take place regularly. There is also a changing programme of exhibitions that take a glance at different aspects of life in the area.
The museum also hosts regular events, one recent example being the 2012 Island Festival that included costumed tours, a classic car show, an artisans market, music from local community groups and a kid’s treasure hunt to coincide with the brilliant Treasure Island pirates exhibition.
Admission to the museum is free and there’s a charming gift shop to pick up a few authentic local souvenirs or presents for the folk back home, really giving them a taste of the Gulf Coast life. The Gulf Beaches Historical Museum is located at 115 10th Avenue, St Pete Beach, so if you are looking for a little bit of local culture and temporary respite from relentless sunbathing on you St Pete Beach holiday then this makes for a fine afternoon spend perusing the history and treasured memories of the local community.