Manatee Village Historical Park is an open air museum located at 1404 Manatee Avenue East, Bradenton, Florida. In 1974, a group of women formed an organization known as the Heritage of Manatee’s Environment Committee. They became aware that two historical buildings were in danger of being torn down– 1887 Methodist Church and the 1860 Old Manatee County Courthouse. The group worked with Manatee County officials to reestablish the Manatee County Historical Commission. They arranged to have these two buildings moved to the current historical park location in December, 1975. These two buildings were renovated. The Manatee Village Historical Park was opened on July 4, 1976. Since then many other buildings were added.
List of exhibits
Old Cabbage Head 1913 Train Engine
Old Cabbage Head is a locomotive built in 1913 by Baldwin Locomotive Works located in Philadelphia. The name refers to the shape of the smoke stack.
The engine was originally built for Taylor County Lumbar Company in North Florida. It is a narrow gauge engine.
It arrived in Manatee County in 1948 at the Nocatee Crate Mill Company. In 2002, it was moved not the Manatee Village Historical Park.
Wiggins Store General Store Built in 1903
Kenneth Wiggins was an entrepreneur in business and agriculture . He built his store in 1903 . It was located 5 blocks from the Manatee River. Wiggins building was the first brick building in the area. It was designed to to serve multiple purposes. The ground floor was a general store and a large storage area. The second floor provided rooms for customers traveling long distances. The store was a gathering spot for members of the community.
The ownership of the building and its uses changed over the years. It provided a barber shop, hotel, apartments and migrant houzing.
It was condemned and boarded up in the 1980’s. It was saved from demolition by a group of concerned citizens. There was a multiyear program to raise money for restoration of the building. It was reopened.
Fogarty Boat Works built in 1866
In 1866, John Fogarty and his brothers William and Bartholomew moved from Key West to the Manatee County area. This marked the start of the booming boat building industry in the area.
The Fogarties claimed land grants totaling 135 acres between Manatee Avenue and the Manatee Boulevard.
At the age of 19 Bartholomew son of Bartholomew built his first shop. For 60 years, Fogarties constructed sailing ships, power vessels, small boats and skiffs. Their boat yard closed in 1944. In 1993, the family willed the boat yard to the public.
The 1887 Church in the village of Manatee began construction in 1887. Construction was halted due to an outbreak of yellow fever. However, 2 years later it was completed. It was the first Christian Congregation south of Tampa. It functioned as a place of worship for 85 years. The building was donated by the United Methodist Church to the Manatee Village Historical Park. It was moved in 1975. The pews in the church are original . The vaulted ceiling was similar to other churches at this time
Bunker Hill School
Bunker Hill School was a one room school house built in 1908. Children from.the Bunker Hill Community in northeast Manatee County grades one through eight attended the school. There was one teacher for all of the grades.
Benjamin David Gullett a teacher and Supervisor of Education in Manatee County for 37 years acquired the school building in 1929; he dismantled it and moved it to his property near Duette. It was his home and later his daughter’s residence Sallie Gullett Bradley.
The Gullett family donated the building to Manatee Village Historical Park. Here it was restored by volunteers.
Florida’s Oldest Courthouse
Historic Plaque Florida’s Oldest Courthouse
Manatee County First Courthouse was built in 1860. It is the oldest remaining wood structure built as a courthouse in Florida. The land for the building was donated by Josiah and Mary Gates,first permanent white settlers in the Village of Manatee. In 1858, a committee executed a contract with Ezekiel Glazier to draw up plans ($5) and construct a courthouse and jail ($700). However, the jail was never built. The building was used as a courthouse from 1860 to 1866.
The former courthouse building was used as a church, parsonage, a social hall and a private residence.
In 1975, the Manatee United Methodist Church donated the building to the Manatee Village. It was moved, restored and opened to the public in 1976.
Blacksmith Shop A Replica
The blacksmith shop is a replica of what would have been used in the late 1880’s. .The blacksmith was a vital part of pioneer communities. He was a source of farming tools and implements. He was also a source for carpenter tools.
The replica contains a forge used to heat and shape metal over the anvil. Some blacksmith shops had a bellows that was used to get the fire very hot by blowing air over the coals. A quenching bucket was used to cool the heated steel.
This replica of a gazebo. The kind popular to the turn of the century.
This smokehouse and syrup kettle were donated by Thomas G. and Harvey Hayden in memory of their parents Dempsey G. and Hollie Wingate Hayden. They lived on Andrew and Leslie Wingate Homestead. This is located on the eastern reaches of the Manatee River in what is known as the Bear Bay Section of Manatee County.
Due to the lack of dependable refrigeration for meat storage, a smoke house was needed in rural pioneer homes. Cuts of pork and sausage were hung in the smoke house. Underneath the meats, a green oak or a hickory wood fire was built or maintained for days causing a dense smoke which cured the meat.
Sugar Cane Mills and syrup kettles were found throughout the south of the United States. The cane was was a source for both sugar and syrup. This mill above was donated by Hazel Hankee. The mill was used to press the juice from the cane stalks. A horse or mule was hitched to the low end of the sweep which was balanced on the top of the mill. The mule or horse walked in a circle turning the mill. Sugar Cane stalks were fed between the rollers. The juice was collected and poured into the syrup kettle. It was cooked over fire
The Stephens House was built in 1912 for Will Stephens and his family on their homestead in Hardee County, Florida. Local lumbar from.pine trees was used in the construction. The style of the home was rural frame.
Eventually, the homestead became the property of the International Mineral Corporation. The company donated the house to the Manatee County Historical Commission. The building was separated into five sections and moved to the Manatee Village Historical Park in 1982 where it was reassembled. The floors in the house are original. The fireplace was constructed of original bricks.