October Happenings at the History Center

Bartow, Fla. (September 28, 2018) – 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:

  • October Family Program – Curators of Curiosity - All Month
    •  To commemorate the fall season, Curators of Curiosity is all about pumpkins. Young learners can design a paper pumpkin totem pole in the children’s gallery. In addition, a new feature of Curators of Curiosity is the holiday reading series offered at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9 and continuing through the month of December. Each one will be held the second Tuesday of the month. Cintia Ally, curator of education and programming, will be reading, “It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse,” by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond.     
  • Oct. 4, 5 p.m. – Ballot Ready 2018
    • In partnership with Polk Vision, the Polk County History Center will host a voter education workshop, Ballot Ready 2018, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4.

This free program will be held at the History Center and features five subject-matter experts to speak on the contents of the Nov. 6 ballot. Topics include the proposed Constitution revision amendments, Florida legislative and citizens’ initiatives, homestead exemption, the half-cent sales tax and the Polk County Charter amendments. Hear from Judge John Stargel; Director of Client Services for the Polk County Property Appraiser, Carol Walker; Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards; Polk County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations, Angela Usher; and Polk County Charter Review Representative, Alice Hunt, as they explain the details of each amendment.

  • Oct. 16, 12:15 to 1 p.m. – Lunch and Learn – “The Path to Recovery: Reintroduction of the Eastern Indigo Snake,” by Michelle Hoffman, deputy director, Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation
    • The Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation is located in Eustis, Florida and was established by the Orianne Society as the captive propagation center for the Eastern Indigo Snake repatriation program in 2011. In 2014, the Orianne Society partnered with the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford to operate and fulfill the goals of the breeding center. The Eastern Indigo Snake reintroduction efforts include many partners such as the Central Florida Zoo, the Orianne Society, the Nature Conservancy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Auburn University to name a few. In 2017, the project held its first release of eastern indigo snakes in Florida since the 1980's at the Nature Conservancy's Appalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (ABRP). To date, 32 Eastern Indigo Snakes have been released at this site, which is the second established release location for the program.

Eastern Indigo Snakes are a nonvenomous species that can grow more than 8 feet long. They are considered an apex predator and rely heavily on gopher tortoises for use of their burrows in parts of their range. Once inhabiting Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, the fragmentation and loss of the fragile longleaf pine ecosystem has reduced their range to parts of Florida and Southeast Georgia.

As the deputy director of the OCIC, Michelle Hoffman oversees the breeding program and manages a collection of more than 150 eastern indigo snakes to aid in the recovery of this federally threatened species. In addition to her position at the OCIC, Hoffman also is the eastern indigo snake species survival plan coordinator and studbook keeper through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Book Recommendations
This month, instead of a book recommendation, we suggest a tram tour of Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk’s 1,200 acre nature reserve. This is a free tour with a Circle B staff member or volunteer guide. Sit and enjoy the unique habitats and wildlife sightings.

  • Oct. 20, 11 a.m. – Architectural Tour
    • Join us for an architectural tour of the History Center and learn about neoclassical architecture, the construction of the building and the stories behind the iconic Old Polk County Courthouse. The architectural tour is at 11 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month.                             
  • Oct. 27, 11 a.m. – Research Workshop – “Over There – Researching Your World War I Soldier” by Preston Petermeier, Research and Genealogy Historian
    •  In honor of the anniversary of the end of the Great War, join Preston Petermeier, the History Center’s Research and Genealogy Historian, as he guides us on the path to World War I research. Special emphasis will be placed on sources specific to Polk and the state of Florida. Other topics covered are military organization, insignias, uniforms, serial numbers, units and military personnel ranks.

  • New Permanent Exhibit - Polk Arts & Culture Exhibit
    • Experience the history of Polk’s diverse arts and culture offerings in this new permanent exhibit. From architecture to music, dance and literary works, the exhibit celebrates the impact that local artists have made in contributing to the quality of life in Polk. The exhibit also serves as the permanent home for the Arts & Culture Hall of Fame, an annual honor to recognize those who have raised awareness of the importance of the arts and culture landscape.

  • Upgraded Permanent Exhibit – Industry
    • Several new exhibits mark the completion of the Industry Gallery redesign. Newly reinterpreted exhibits explore the local history of cattle, turpentine, lumber, phosphate, beekeeping, farming and banking. These diverse industries once thrived in Polk, and while turpentine stills and lumber mills have faded, many other trades featured in the gallery continue to be a viable part of Polk’s economy and tradition. Artifacts include Polk’s 1861 hand-scribed cattle brand registration book from the Clerk of the Court, stamped shingles from the Everglades Cypress Company, a circa 1915 safe from a Bartow bank, Bone Valley fossils, a circa 1870s upholstered chair with cow horn accents and various pieces of farming equipment used before the tractor.
  • New Temporary Exhibit - Creating An Icon – The Way We Worked on the Singing Tower
    •  From Edward Bok’s initial vision to its design and construction, this temporary traveling exhibit tells the story of Bok Tower, from the foundation to its crowning herons. The exhibit includes photographs, infographics, bios, and details from the builder’s journals. This exhibit is partially funded by grants from the Florida Humanities Council and Visit Central Florida, and is on loan from Bok Tower Gardens. On display through Nov. 30.

Oct. 18, 2:30 p.m. – The Polk County Historical Commission and Marker Committee will meet at the Polk County History Center. The meetings are open to the public.

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.


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