The Sanford Florida Student Museum was in jeopardy — because of budget downturns it needed a way to keep it up and running. Luckily the University of Central Florida, (UCF) stepped in and has grant money for two years to get it in order and try and keep it self-sustaining. But let me back up. I have lived in the area since 1980’s and yet, had never even thought about going to visit the museum. Even with a glowing endorsement by my neighbor, Dee who loved everything about it, it was not on my list of things to do.  I knew it was there and open and  forgot all about it until I saw a notice that they were going to revamp the old place and needed volunteers to help get it up and running in time for the bell ringing on the opening of the Seminole County school season, September 13.

First of all the sign pointing to the location of the Museum on French Avenue is quite misleading and takes you into a little shopping area that has nothing to do with the museum. It’s actually physically located at 301 W. 7th street, a few blocks from where the sign shows. (I hope that has been fixed.)
I decided to go over and see what was going on a few weeks ago.  I pulled up, it was lunch and all was quiet. I met UCF Associate Professor, Rose Beiler, director of Public History who was so enthusiastic about having the opportunity to get this museum off and running. The building was built in 1902 with a three story bell tower.     Love the brick streets, downtown Sanford is full of them.
In 1916 they added one story wings,  the building is on The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s a wonderful old brick school building reminding me of the school I went to as a young girl called Old Trail in Akron Ohio.
There was something quite comforting about being inside the halls of the old place. I felt at ease walking the long hallways and peeking into the many rooms, some waiting to be fixed and painted and put into order. I absorbed the details of wood working, the old doors and floors, the glass and other elementary parts to the puzzle.

Rose was a wonderful hostess in her enthusiasm for the project. When I pulled into the back of the school I saw teaching gardens: butterfly gardens, veggie gardens and very nice plants and many over grown bushes plus antique fixtures and a gazebo.

Inside the halls were silent, yet spoke well about their history. On the walls and tables along the walls were historical memorabilia to be put into rooms, things were boxed and moved around as they readied the various rooms for their re-opening. Rooms were in stages of being painted, air conditioning was being worked on, most everything torn apart to be put back together in a two week span. There were a few volunteers helping to sort things and pack and get the place back into order. There will also be volunteers staying on and running the building once it is back up and running.

UCF plans to continue bringing the Fourth graders through and others too, in Fourth grade they start learning history and the rooms show wonderful exhibits to support many diverse subjects. Here’s a good link to seeing these wonderful rooms as tools for learning from our past, present and future. Check out the exhibits:

Below  are photos of some of the rooms and areas that were visible to me. Rose really gave me so much information and I had no pad to write it all down. I must say that I hope to inspire people of our local community to come and see this amazing building full of intrigue. I was told that many people around Sanford don’t even know it’s there. Believe me, it is worth seeing and telling others about. I will not be able to attend the bell ringing, but I will add photos of the ceremony as my friend and fellow photographer, freelance writer and Associate Editor of Lake Mary Health and Wellness Magazine,   G.K. Sharman, will cover the photo op for my absence. Please, if you can,  support this wonderful effort and opportunity for a new start to an old and worthy project. The bell ringing is Monday morning September 13 at 9am – support the community, UCF and history. And if you can’t make it, please plan on a trip over there soon and enjoy a treasury of information and visual treats.  I can see it having art venues, even cooking classes with the garden in the back as a catalyst for good nutrition and inspiration for teaching how to plant and sustain gardens of herbs and veggies/fruits. If you have ideas let them know.

Please don’t put it on the back burner, bring your family and check it out, there is something for everyone to enjoy. When the school bell rings this year it is an important step to keeping the past relevant with this historical building loaded with archives; smiles, memories, amazement – GO, SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY, and they always need volunteers. Have a little preview, I can’t wait to see the place all put together. Thank you UCF for taking on this task, thank you Rose for your tour, thank you Ashley Wilt with the UCF Dept. of History who is coordinating all this, and thank you volunteers who give so unselfishly of themselves, thanks to all for their dedications!




Here’s a look at the Bell Ringing Ceremony from Monday August 13th by photographer/ Associate Editor, G. K. Sharman