By Angela Fulford
The Taylor County Historical Society hosted an Open House for the newly renovated second floor of its 118 East Main Street building on October 29, 1997. Vintage W.A.V.E. uniforms, a “permanent wave” haridresser’s chair and a hand-cranked Victrola were just a few of the new displays unveiled. Glass cases hold a variety of local memorabilia--from a sword dating back to the Civil War to faded photos of turpentine fields and letters from foreign shores. The Aucilla River Prehistory Project displayed fossils and artifacts freshly recovered from the fall field season concurrently underway at the Sloth Hole site.
A gallery of faces greet visitors, among them Cary Hardee, a native Taylor Countian and one-time Florida governor and W.T. Cash, Florida’s first state librarian and noted Taylor County historian.
The society’s building was formerly the Bank of Perry (1903), First National Bank (1906-1930); and was used as office space for various county agencies until 1967.
The late Claude Pepper established his first law office in the building, working with Perry attorney W.B. Davis in the 1920’s.
Doomed for demolition, the building was “rescued” by the society in 1971. Its restoration process has been an on-going project for members ever since...
Projects currently underway: The society is working on a 50-year time capsule, publication of a “History of Taylor County”, publishing Vol. 10 in their “They Were Here” series which details notables of the county who have passed, and a display of fossils and artifacts from Taylor County’s world famous river sites by the Aucilla River Prehistory Project.
Of interest: Founder Alton H. Wentworth, long-time educator and noted local historian, will celebrate his 101st birthday in March of this year.
In a nutshell: The Taylor County Historical Society is dedicated to records keeping and preserving the history of Taylor County and its people. Meetings are held the third Monday of each month. Annual dues are $5. The Historical Society Building is located on the downtown square at 118 East Main Street, Perry, FL 32347.
About the renovations: An estimated $20,000 worth of renovations were completed on the upstairs. Pigeons had been the most notable residents of the rooms for the past 30 years. Ceilings were replaced, carpet laid and walls painted. Funding was provided by a matching grant from the state and help from the county commission as well as private contributions. Volunteers carried the bulk of the work with help from inmate labor crews from the local jail.