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June Happenings at the History Center

Published on Jun 1, 2022

Bartow, Fla (June 1, 2022) -- Journey into Polk history this month at the Polk County History Center. The following programs and events are open to the public and free of charge:

  • June 3, 6 to 9 p.m.: Lakeland First Friday with Visit Central Florida
    • History Center Staff is teaming up with Visit Central Florida at Lakeland’s First Friday to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Water Ski in Polk County. For water skiers, no location is as storied as the banks of Lake Eloise, the home of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. It is fitting that the central point in the sport’s centennial celebration is here in Florida’s Sweetest Spot.

First Friday at Lakeland’s Munn Park draws thousands of visitors every month and features a Classy Car Show, a Makers Market with crafters and artisans and exhibitors with goodies, giveaways and special deals. Complete our Polk Water Stories quest and receive a special sustainable prize!

  • June 18, 11 a.m.: Architectural Tour
  • Join us for an architectural tour of the History Center and discover the neoclassical architectural elements that define this iconic Polk County landmark. This month, we focus on the opening of the Courthouse on June 25, 1909. The architectural tour occurs at 11 a.m. the third Saturday of each month.
  • June 21, Noon:  Lunch & Learn: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Florida: State Parks and More by David Schmidt
    • In his book, Rightful Heritage, Douglas Brinkley concludes that “few [New Deal] programs would shine brighter” than the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). During the presence of the CCC in Florida from 1933 until 1942, there were more than 70 camps around the state with a total of just under 50,000 young men working on projects. Join guest speaker David Schmidt for an informative program that presents an overview of the CCC, which included a camp in Mulberry, and the projects that were accomplished during this historic period.

David Schmidt is the curator of the Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum at Highland Hammock State Park in Sebring. He taught for 37 years focusing on United States history, geography and special education. Schmidt holds two master’s degrees from Ball State University in special education and United States history and did additional study at Michigan State University, Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

This is an in-person program and reservations are not required – arrive early to get a great seat! Questions or concerns, please contact the History Center at (863) 534-4386.

  • June 25, 10 a.m.: Genealogy Speaker Series: Orphan Trains 1854 – 1929 by Derek Blount
    • The Orphan Train Movement was a social experiment to rescue poor and homeless children. Over the span of 75 years, roughly 200,000 children from large cities were placed on trains headed West to be adopted. Many of these children were placed with loving parents – others were not. Professional genealogist, Derek J. Blount of Lost Branches, will first review the social conditions that prompted the orphan trains and how to track children who may have been placed on these trains.

Derek J. Bount has a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University and has more than 30 years of experience in genealogy research. Blount has presented countless genealogy lectures throughout Michigan. He holds memberships in the Association of Genealogical Professionals and the Society of Genealogists in London. Derek also serves as the Genealogist for the St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit.

Reservations are required. For Zoom details, contact Preston Petermeier at (863) 534-4604 or

  • June 25, 10:30 a.m.  By, For, and Of the People: Folk Art and Americana at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum by J. Lenora Bresler
    • While there are many different definitions for folk art, generally folk artists tend to be untrained in the fine arts or have made utilitarian objects decorative. Many of the objects on display at both the DAR Museum and Polk County History Center are made by unknown craftsmen or artisans. Featured items portray a sampling of American tastes and cultures of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Typical household items salute the American craftsmen who united utility and innovative design, from the chair makers, tinsmiths and potters who enlivened their wares with painted flourishes, to the blacksmiths who transformed simple iron trivets into decorative kitchenware.

This is an in-person program and reservations are not required – arrive early to get a great seat. Questions or concerns, please contact the History Center at (863) 534-4386.

The Polk County History Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 100 E. Main St. in Bartow. Visit or call (863) 534-4386 for more information on exhibits and programming. All programs and events are free and open to the public.