The Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1971 as the Orange County Historical Society, but its roots go deeper into Central Florida’s past. The group continues a mission begun in 1942, when history supporters opened a small exhibit in the county’s red-brick 1892 courthouse at Central Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue in downtown Orlando.
In 1957, when the red-brick courthouse was demolished, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners established a historical commission to manage the museum collection and tapped Judge Donald Cheney to be its first chairman. In 1971, Cheney championed efforts that led to the Orange County Historical Society and to a permanent home for area history, which opened in Loch Haven Park in 1976 as the Orange County Historical Museum.
In 2000, the museum moved back to its downtown roots, transforming into the much larger Orange County Regional History Center in the county’s restored 1927 courthouse building. The group Cheney had spearheaded in 1971 became the Historical Society of Central Florida, which supports the History Center’s mission and programs through an agreement with the Board of County Commissioners.
The Orange County Regional History Center
The Orange County Regional History Center showcases the vast collections of the Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc. The museum features four floors of permanent exhibitions and also presents nationally important limited-run exhibitions. In 2006, the museum was accepted as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and was accredited by the American Association of Museums, the highest honor a museum can receive.
The History Center is housed in the beautifully restored five-story 1927 Orange County courthouse in the heart of downtown Orlando. With an exciting roster of ever-changing exhibitions on display, the museum is one of Central Florida’s premier attractions. Members, educators, and visitors alike find a wealth of fascinating information, delivered in dynamic fashion. From guided tours and “hands-on-history” events to fun-packed summer camps and interactive children’s programs, learning is fun for all ages. Annual pass members can take advantage of a number of special value-added benefits, including discounts and access to the national Time Travelers network of museums and historic sites (see timetravelers.mohistory.org).
Distinctive venues at the History Center are also available for event rentals, ranging from unparalleled conferences to unforgettable weddings.
To learn more and plan your visit, go to thehistorycenter.org.