This month people can journey into Polk history at the Polk County History Center.
At 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 2, there will be a walking tour of the historic Oak Hill Cemetery that starts at the History Center in Bartow. Many pioneer families are buried in this cemetery, including Civil War veterans Jacob Summerlin and Gen. Evander M. Law.
From 12:15-1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 5 and Tuesday, Aug. 12, there’s the Book Club. Zora Neale Hurston’s unpublished play, “Polk County” takes place in the sawmill camp of Lofton Lumber Company. When newcomer Leafy Lee comes into the camp to learn their music, she is befriended by the community matriarch, Big Sweet. As Leafy gains the attentions of My Honey, she upsets a jealous Dicey and the plot thickens. Hurston was an anthropologist, novelist and folklorist who studied folklore in the South from the late 1920s through the 1930s. She was a scholar with the Work Projects Administration.
There’s an architechtural tour at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 7. People can explore the courthouse and learn more about Neo-Classical architecture with the new architectural tour. The Old Polk County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 7, 1989. In honor of the 25th anniversary, there will be a family version of the tour as part of Throwback Thursdays.
Family Fun Day is from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Aug. 9 and there’s an exciting and healthy back-to-school Ag-venture. Journey through the rich cultural heritage of Polk County— from cattle to citrus — and learn about fun fitness and food ideas. Practice barnyard yoga and try your hand at making refreshing fruit kabobs. We are proud to partner with the University of Florida/IFAS Extension in Polk County for this event. Free back-to-school items will be given to students while supplies last. School supplies for Ag-venture are generously provided by Office Depot.
Lunch and Learn is from 12:15- 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19 and Rick Kilby will present, “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Discovering Florida’s Magical Waters.” People can learn about the legacy of Ponce de Leon’s search for the legendary Fountain of Youth in Florida. Through postcards, vintage advertisements, photos and other ephemera, we find an image of Florida over the years as a rejuvenating paradise. Kilby is a graphic designer and author. His book, “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters,” was the winner of the 2013 Florida Book Award in Visual Arts.
There are also a handful of ongoing programs at the History Center.
From 10 a.m.-noon through Saturday, Aug. 16, is the Summer Family Program where activities vary each week.
On Throwback Thursdays, people can explore some of local history. People will visit the Genealogy Library, take an architectural tour of the 1908 Courthouse, explore old photographs and maps and enjoy a youth-friendly tour of Oak Hill Cemetery.
On Civil War Fridays people can delve into the daily challenges of the Civil War time period in Polk County. Write with a quill, use a compass, prepare for life as a soldier and learn what Polk County was like during the Civil War.
The Polk County History Center is at 100 E. Main St., Bartow. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 863-534-4386, or online at PolkHistoryCenter.org.