Bill Shelton's 5th graders listened intently as living history presenter Ken Straight explained to them the important role blacksmiths had in the agricultural age, and ironically how they fabricated the machines that made their craft obsolete at the rise of the industrial age
Cadets from Admiral Farragut Academy (AFA), Tampa Bay's college-preparatory, naval military school, encountered Pinellas County's past recently when they explored some of Heritage Village's 28 structures.
Heritage Village preserves Pinellas County and Florida's cultural and architectural history by maintaining historical buildings moved there since 1976 from around the county. Several homes, a 1915 store from St Petersburg, two schoolhouses, a church and a train station are among the buildings and exhibits that make up the 21 acre museum.
The museum is part of Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo, also the home of the Florida Botanical Gardens, and the Gulf Coast Museum of Art.
For the students, the trip to Heritage Village was more than just a day away from their classroom. One hundred and 50 years of history was brought to life for them.
The students were guided by living history volunteer interpreters throughout the highly educational field trip, including AFA's own chaplain Larry Upham, who showed the students the Joshua Boyer home. The structure was built in 1878 along the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs as a 14' x 14' "honeymoon cottage". It typifies Gulf Coast style architecture and has survived nearly 100 years of Florida hurricanes to become the oldest existing structure in Tarpon Springs. In 1978, the cottage was donated to Heritage Village by the City of Tarpon Springs.
While touring the George Washington Moore House which was originally built in 1879 in the middle of a citrus grove at North Highland Avenue near Sunset Point Road in north Clearwater, the students got a glimpse of the hardships children living then faced. Volunteer Doris Boggs told them about the materials used for mattress stuffing back then- - corn cobs or Spanish moss which was spread across ropes attached to the bed frame. Since usually more than one child shared a small bed, if they moved around too much, some of the stuffing could fall to the floor. So they had to, "Sleep tight". And also, because chiggers or red bugs could still be living in the moss, they'd say, "Don't let the bed bugs bite!"
Hundreds of students visit the village every week and educational programs and fun events are scheduled year round for young and old. Admission is free.
Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th St., Largo. For more information phone (727) 582-2123. Visit the village on the web at: www.pinellascounty.org/heritage/
In the McMullen house the students learned about fiber arts. Here volunteer Alice Phillips tests their ability to find like patterns on a sampler quilt