STOP IN FOR A VISIT!
Judy Johnson's 8th Grade Class from Avon Park's Walker Academy were recent field trip visitors to the Depot Museum. The students were given historical information pertaining to Avon Park and then boarded the Silver Palm dining car for refreshments and to greet the Amtrak Silver Meteor as it passed on the way to New York City.
Colin J. Deal, a recent graduate of Sandwich High School Cape Cod, Massachusetts and grandson of James Deal, Depot Museum Historian and Volunteer was recently honored with a surprise graduation party that was held on the Silver Palm Dining car. Colin's local family members and friends of the museum helped him celebrate the occasion.
"Youth Leadership Highlands" students recently visited the Avon Park Depot Museum. The faith-based organization is sponsored by the Mason G. Smoak Foundation, a year-long class that teaches leaderskip skills and includes visiting areas of interest throughout Highlands County.
Twenty-four 4th, 5th and 6th grade students from the St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring, accompanied by teachers Mrs. Katherine Spencer and Mrs. Patricia Gutierrez recently visited the Depot Museum as part of a school field trip. The students were given information and historical significance of the museum's exhibits. They then greeted the Amtrak as it passed the Silver Palm Dining Car access ramp. After moving into the dining car the group had lunch and later celebrated two birthdays. Home made cookies and brownies prepared by museum volunteers rounded out the dessert. Table games to include checkers, Chinese checkers, Scrabble, tic tac toe, and various card games kept the group entertained for quite some time. Simplicity, the hobo clown paid a visit and was photographed with many of the students. They then boarded their bus and returned to Sebring with good memories of an educational and fun visit to Avon Park Depot Museum.
Students from the Walker Memorial Academy's 8th grade and their teacher, Ms. Judy Johnson recently toured the Depot Museum to gather some historical knowledge about their community. As they made their way thru the various exhibits and artifacts museum volunteers were on hand to explain the importance and historical significance of each exhibit. Assisting were Elaine Levey, Museum Director and Jim Deal and Quinton Varnes museum volunteers.
The students visit concluded with boarding the Silver Palm Dining Car for refreshments and playing some old fashioned table games. A visit by Simplicity, the Hobo Clown was a highlight of the event.
Upon returning to school the students were assigned a
project - preparing a keynote presentation on their iPads about Avon Park history.
Oliver M. Crosby was the founder of the town he originally called Lake Forest and later became known as Avon Park. He built a 32 room hotel on the shores of Lake Verona, aptly named Verona Hotel. Here in the early days prospecive property buyers were registered and given the royal treatment. The Verona Hotel was the cultural center of the new community. Religious services were held here until the various denominations built their own churches, usually on land that Oliver Crosby donated to them.
George Sebring, in his endeavors to develop the town of Sebring, was a guest here many times as there were no other lodging facilities nearby.
The Verona Hotel was greatly damaged by fire in 1926 and was demolished. Salvaged lumber was used in numerous construction sites around the town. There are more than likely structures in Avon Park still standing containing lumber from the Verona Hotel.
Read more about the Verona Hotel under the MUSEUM category and then "FOUNDING" article.
Had it not been for the efforts of this lady, Leoma Bradshaw Maxwell, there would be no Avon Park Depot Museum. When the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company deeded the old depot to the city it was leased to the Historical Society of Avon Park. This set in motion the development of a museum to collect and house the history of Avon Park. Mrs. Maxwell was the first director of the newly formed Depot Museum and later was directly responsible for acquiring the California Zephyr Silver Palm Dining Car. She is also the author of "The First Hundred Years of Avon Park, Florida". This book is available in the museum.