Orange County History Centre

Florida Guide > Florida History

The 2 names that have been given to this part of the State reflect visitors’ impression and the commodity that gave it the initial wealth. Originally called Mosquito County -early settlers named it because of the mosquitoes in the area Mosquito County was created in 1824.

Early settlers arriving after the civil war and discovering wild citrus growing in the area renamed it Orange County in 1845 as citrus became the areas main industry later spawning local citrus magnates such as Dr. Phillips whose name is still connected to the area today . How the fruit and its allied processing brought wealth to the area and its subsequent overtaking by other attractions is brought to life in The Orange County History Centre.

Situated just to the west of Lake Eola in the downtown area of Orlando –the centre has 3 floors that tell the story of the area from its humble beginnings to the present day although it does not pay too much attention to the one thing that is synonymous with the area –Disney –preferring to concentrate on the way ordinary folk got along before the World was thought of.

Housed inside the 1927 Orange County Courthouse, the museum offers local history as far back as 12, 000 years ago when the Paleo-Indians roamed the area, through the history of citrus growing, and right into the 20th century space exploration. You can discover just who John Young Parkway is named after -where he lived and went to school. You can wander through an Indian village and learn how they survived and what happened when the white man decided he wanted their lands . Follow the history of the area through the arrival of the Cracker Cowboys –see what they ate and listen to stories about their life. There is a replica of a Florida Pioneer cabin that lets curious guests test a Spanish moss-filled mattress and discover the much-discussed origin of the term ' Florida Cracker' .

The exhibits tell the story of the arrival of tourism and how it has affected and influenced the vibrancy of the area and the space industry and all the recognition that has brought to the region.

One interesting room is Courtroom B, an authentic courtroom that was part of the former Courthouse, the furnishings and decorations date back to 1927. One of the benches in the front has an inscription ' Ted Bundy' , indicating this infamous criminal may indeed have been sitting here on this very wooden bench in the past. Bundy was in fact tried in the former Annex to the 1927 Orange County Courthouse, but historians still debate the authenticity of the signature. The seat backs of the prisoners' benches are all scuffed up with markings of the handcuffs that tied their hands behind their backs. The jurors bench is set at an angle to the dock which forced the defendant to look at the jury whilst giving their evidence.

Combine a visit here with a walk around Lake Eola which is very close and you will enjoy the fountain in the middle of the lake, maybe see the Swans nest by the bridge or if you go on a Sunday you can stroll round the open air artisan style market there and maybe buy fresh bread and vegetables direct from the farmers or handicrafts handmade candles , soaps, oils and incense or the children can have their face painted.

You can have a bite to eat there too so making it a great day out that doesn’t cost a lot.
Admission to the History centre is $9 for adults; $7 for seniors (60+), $6 for children ages 5-12; The market is free.

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