Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Old Florida Christmas

Pinellas County's Heritage Village

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the Christmas Spirit when you live in Florida and it’s 80 degrees outside. Instead of sitting around and dreaming of snow, I decided to spend an afternoon at Heritage Village in Largo to find out how Floridians celebrated Christmas in years past.

Heritage Village is a 21-acre living history museum with over two dozen of Pinellas County’s oldest structures, dating from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. The historic homes range from the 1852 McMullen-Coachman log cabin, to the tiny one-room Boyer Cottage, to the grand Victorian-style House of Seven Gables. There is also a train depot, a fire engine from 1919, a general store and even a couple of Depression-era outhouses! One of my favorite buildings was the little Safety Harbor Church, which survived two hurricanes and still has its original pulpit.

For the holiday season, many of the houses were decorated as they would have been at the time they were built. At the House of Seven Gables there were toys and a large Christmas tree in the sitting room. But most of homes were decorated very humbly, with boughs of pine branches and berries, a bowl of oranges, a sock hanging from the fireplace mantle. It reminded me that Christmas isn’t about expensive presents and elaborate decorations. It can be as simple as a welcoming wreath on the door and singing Christmas carols at church. But there is one thing I am thankful for that those early Floridians didn’t have – air conditioning!

garden pavillion

House of Seven Gables door

House of Seven Gables sitting room

House of Seven Gables kitchen

Plant Sumner House

Plant Sumner House porch

Plant Sumner House dining area

old toys

Greenwood House

McMullen-Coachman log cabin

log cabin porch


H. C. Smith general store

barber pole

general store goods

gas pump

train depot and caboose

McMullen House

Safety Harbor Church

Travel Tips: Holidays at the Village runs through January 3 and it’s free!

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