BECOME A MEMBER
Full time residents and winter only residents, the Historical Society is a group interested in the rich heritage of our area. Learn our history, help others discover their heritage, join volunteers with interesting and fun activities and be a part of an interesting group of people.
As a member you will receive a monthly newsletter inviting you to our programs and events, our monthly meetings, Pioneer Day festival on the third Saturday in March, Yard Sale fundraiser in November, Annual Scholarship Dinner, and more! Click here for application.
The DeSoto County Historical Society’s monthly meeting will be Thursday, September 12 at Family Service Center Annex
corner of N. Orange Ave. & Effie Street.
Lunch at 11:30 for $7 will be sandwiches plus chips, desserts and drinks.
September is our annual fund raising Auction. We have a nice selection of antique and collectible items donated to us by Sheri and Jo Fink so we will not be asking members to bring items to auction but will ask that you bring a friend and plan to help us raise money for the Museum instead of a scholarship for a graduating high school senior.
WALKING TOUR OF ARCADIA
Online, Mobile-Friendly Self-Guided Walking Tour of Downtown Now Available!
Arcadia was incorporation as a town on Dec. 6, 1886. The DeSoto County Historical Society is proud to collaborate with South Florida State College to provide an online, mobile-friendly, self-guided walking tour of the historic downtown.
“Although our main campus is in Highlands County, the college has a DeSoto County campus with a branch library” College Librarian Claire A. Miller said. “People have always sought history in libraries—especially local history—so it makes sense for the college library to make this information accessible.”
The tour includes Google map directions and GPS coordinates as well as analog maps. “We’ve combined historic information with digital technology,” said Miller. “We’ve mixed the old and the new.”
A QR or Quick Response Code—that can be scanned like a UPC by a cell phone or other mobile device—will help people find and use the tour. The QR Code will be posted throughout downtown Arcadia.
Although the first pioneers settled what is now Arcadia in 1856, they did not apply for a post office until 1883. Settlement grew on the banks of Peace River because it served as the main means of transportation.
About a mile east of the river, the Florida Southern Railway laid tracks (now the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 17), and the first train arrived on March 4, 1886. Banks, offices, and shops were constructed near the train depot, and stores on the riverbank moved “uptown.” The 1911 train depot, today a store front, is one of the first stops on the walking tour.
In 1901, the City of Arcadia was incorporated, and on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1905, fire destroyed the business district. Businessmen agreed that all future construction must be block or brick, and so the handsome masonry commercial buildings standing today were built from 1906 to 1926—plus the three buildings that survived the fire.
The Arcadia Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, and thanks to the Society and the Peace River Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a Florida Historic Marker about the district was installed in January in the Tree of Knowledge Park, where the tour begins.
As well as showcasing Arcadia’s history, the District is also features specialty stores, boutiques, banks, professional offices, restaurants, and more. Famous for its antique shops and fourth Saturday antique fairs, Arcadia began its revitalization as a Main Street City in 1985.
Thanks to the College and the Historical Society, people may easily learn about the town, its history, and its historic commercial structures by accessing the online self-guided walking tour: http://libguides.southflorida.edu/florida/desoto_walking_tour.
“The self-guided walking tour allows people to “read” the downtown buildings like a history book,” said Carol Mahler, volunteer coordinator of the Society’s Research Library and Museum in Arcadia. “If only those buildings could talk,” she said. “I bet they’d have some tales to tell.”
The Historical Society will provide hour-long guided walking tours of historic Arcadia, Florida, for your group for a donation of $5.00 per person. If you want to “make a day of it,” we can arrange for lunch for your group at one of our local restaurants for an additional charge. Then you’ll have time to browse in Arcadia’s many antique shops and specialty boutiques. click here for Self Guided Tour Map.
To schedule your group’s tour, please contact our tour guide, Carol Mahler, at 863-445-0789 or online at email@example.com. To purchase our booklet, "A Walking Tour of Historic Arcadia, Florida" see details under publications.
VOLUNTEERS are the backbone of any organization. The Society is proud to have the JROTC students from DeSoto County High School do community service with the Historical Society. The students help with Pioneer Day parking, at Yard Sale, and every 2nd Saturday doing whatever is needed at the Museum and Seed House. We are thankful and appreciative for their help and thank their Commander, Ronald Baynes for organizing the volunteers.
DeSoto County Historical Society, Inc.
P. O. Box 1824
Arcadia, FL 34265
Board of Directors 2019
President Norma Banas
Vice Pres. Vernon Keen
Secretary Stella Parker
Treasurer Dennis Tyson
Museum Carol Mahler
Past Pres. Adrian Cline
Thanks to Librarian Claire A. Miller and Carol Mahler, the Society now has an online, mobile-friendly, self-guided walking tour of historic Arcadia Florida. The tour is hosted by South Florida State College at http://libguides.southflorida.edu/florida/desoto_walking_tour
DeSoto County Historical Society (EIN 85-8013127211C-7). We are a State of Florida Nonprofit Charitable Corporation authorized to solicit funds within the State of Florida.
DeSoto County Historical Society holds Public Charity Status with the IRS as a 501-c-3 Corporation established May 4, 1990. A copy of the Official Registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free 1-800-435-7352 within the State. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the State. Our registration # is CH53049. (No part of your donation goes to pay for salaries or un-related expenses.)
September will be our annual fund raising Auction. This year we have a nice selection of antique and collectible items donated to us by Sheri and Jo Fink. We will not be asking members to bring items to auction but will ask that you bring a friend and plan to help us raise money for the Museum.
November The Tin Can Tourists will be here from the 8th through the 10th with an assortment of antique motor homes. We hope everyone will welcome them and visit their display.
We will not be having our annual Yard Sale so are not asking for items to sell. We are always looking to add historical items to the Museum, so keep a look out for period pieces of any type.
December the Historical Society will be taking responsibility for the Tour of Homes. We will be looking for help with publicity, ticket sales and tour guide duty. Look for information in coming newsletters.
Please visit our friends on the web:
Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo
Arcadia Main Street Program, Inc.
Charlotte County Geneological Society
Cracker Trail Museum at Pioneer Park, Zolfo Springs
Crowley Museum & Nature Center
DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce
DeSoto County Fair Association
DeSoto County GenWeb
Geneological Society of Sarasota
Florida History & Genealogy Library
Lemon Bay Historical Society
Manatee County Historical Records Library
Manatee Village Historical Park
Palmetto Historical Park
Peace River Campground
Venice Museum and Archives