Historical Society of Greater Lake Placid


VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT lphsdepotmuseum.org

Located at 19 West Park in Lake Placid, the depot museum was completed in 1927 for use by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.  The railroad abandoned the line in 1962 and the building was used as a feed store for a time.  By 1982, the building was again vacant and in disrepair.  Volunteers with the Historical Society scraped, sanded, and painted until the building was restored to it's former beauty.
The Historical Society of Greater Lake Placid was formed in 1982.  When they retired, Dick and Bettes Lamb moved from Miami to Lake Placid.  Looking around the town, they saw, the abandoned Atlantic Coast Line Railroad station.  The building had been built in 1926-27 during the Florida real estate boom.  Melvil Dewey, of Dewey Decimal fame, was building a resort in town and he wanted a first class station to attract his wealthy clients as they came to Florida to enjoy the warm winters.  The four-room depot replaced a much smaller one that burned down.  Letters which passed between Dewey and the town fathers attest to the attention to detail which Dewey placed on the structure.  As a result, the station was an impressive one for the time in which it was constructed.

The ACL ceased operation of passenger trains through Lake Placid in 1962, abandoning the depot.  A feed store rented the premises for a short time and then left.  The Lambs were quick to recognize the historical value of the building even through the grime of neglect, and they sought to restore the building by creating a Historical Society whose members would raise funds and with volunteer labor make the old building proper landmark in Lake Placid.   

The Museum is open for visitors from September through May during the hours of 1:00 to 3:30 P.M. and will be opened at other times by calling Grady Parrish, Museum Coordinator, at (863) 465-7687.  While there is no charge, a donation for expenses is appreciated.  The Museum has never asked for funds from any local, state, or federal agency, preferring to exist on donations, memberships, and fund-raisers.  The Society maintains a Funnel Cake Booth at local fairs which enables the group to earn needed moneys for long-term maintenance of the depot. 
 

Photo by Jean Parrish Grady Parrish describes the First Bank Robbery in Lake Placid, which, as a young boy he helped foil, during Pioneer Week.  Students from the elementary schools in Lake Placid are invited to the Museum to view various pioneer activities demonstrated by members of the Society.
The Depot Museum has four rooms of artifacts primarily on local history, but also including items from around the world.  Everything in the building has been donated by residents.  Emphasis is placed on the turpentine industry, which was large in the area in the early 1900's.  Many tools from the past are on display, as are military uniforms from World War I, and World War II.  Books of ration stamps, War Bond stamps, and sales tax tokens in use in the 1940's are displayed.  A dress that once belonged to Jackie Kennedy is in a lighted case, as is a gown made by a 1927 high school graduate of the local high school.
 
    A collection of hand irons, beaded bags and hats, buttons carefully arranged in picture frames, a floor loom, and a treadle sewing machine, a pump organ, and a wind-up phonograph are all prominently displayed.  Of interest to many people is the telephone switch board and the huge linotype machine formerly used by the Lake Placid Journal newspaper.

 

 
A red caboose is part of the museum display.  Living quarters for the crew are still part of the interior, as well as some railroad equipment.  Two chairs are in the cupola, one facing each way, so crewmen could watch the tracks regardless of the direction they were going.  A ladder accesses the chairs and visitors may climb up and take a look.  
 

The caboose was purchased and installed on tracks beside the Depot Museum.  Children of all ages enjoy walking through the car.  The chairs in the cupola are intact, providing a great spot for children to climb and look down the tracks.  The "conductor", Ronald Rhoades, leads school children through the exhibit during Pioneer Days, pointing out details of life that railroad men lived within the small rooms of the caboose.

 

Another item of interest on the grounds is a steam engine.  Purchased as a back-up engine for the saw mill at Hicora in 1929,

The engine was never put in use and had remained in excellent condition.  Also on the grounds, Lastinger Park is dedicated to the   first family to build a cabin and plant an orange grove in the vicinity.  A plaque commemorates this family. 
 

    The Kissimmee Valley Archeological Society maintains a display of Indian artifacts found in mounds and lake beds in the immediate area.  Shards of pottery, primitive tools and arrowheads fill the glass case assigned to the Archeological Society.  A photograph of the Wilde Man, a sculpture of a human head found approximately three feet down near the lake called Lake Placid rests in the case.  The actual item was sent to the University of Florida in Gainesville.
 
    The Depot Museum was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.  The Society celebrated it's 20th anniversary in February, 2002.

    Membership is $10.00 for an individual, $18.00 for a couple, and $25.00 for a business.  The Society meets once a quarter, on the third Saturday of   March, June, September, and December at the Lake Placid Woman's Club building, 10 North Main Avenue at 12 noon for a Pot Luck meal and business meeting.  

 

                                         Contact Person:

                                         Sonny Stalls

                                         P. O. Box 2296
                                         Lake PLaqcid, FL 33862
                                         Phone # 863-465-7280
                                         e-mail : bnsstalls@htn.net

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