Last updated: 11/6/2021
Lake Wales, Florida
Street Address
325 South Scenic Highway
Lake Wales, FL 33853
Mailing Address
325 South Scenic Highway
Lake Wales, FL 33853
Hours
Wednesday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Admissions
Free
Museum Type(s)
Services
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Staff
Jennifer D'hollander, Director
phone: 863-676-1759
Anderson Hanna, Curator of Collections
phone: 863-676-1759
Description

Located along the highland ridge of Lake Wales, Florida, the Lake Wales Museum is a historical museum housed in the town’s original Mediterranean-style 1928 Atlantic Coast Line Railroad station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum hosts 7,500 visitors annually. Guests may experience historical and changing exhibits, old train cars, speaker series, special tours and events. Visitors learn about the natural history of the Lake Wales Ridge beginning with Florida’s native people to the development of Lake Wales’ railroad, industry and residents of the 20th century. Guests may visit our newly restored 1926 Seaboard Air Line Railroad caboose, the 1916 Pullman passenger car and 1944 US Army locomotive engine.

Large scale community events hosted in the last 12 months include the 42nd Annual Pioneer Days, the inaugural Beers with Pioneers, The Way We Worked Smithsonian traveling exhibit, Monster’s Ball Halloween event, Pet Day at the Museum, and participated in the downtown Lake Wales events Make It Magical and the 39-Mile Yard Sale.

The museum regularly collaborates with local businesses and nonprofits. Field trips and museum outreach programs are offered for K-12th grade school groups on a regular basis, along with history bus tours, humanities speakers, history happy hours, a non-fiction book club, workshops and events for all ages. Individuals and students older than 15 years of age are welcome to participate in our volunteer program who actively work on collections, special events and visitor services.

Mission

The mission of the Lake Wales History Museum is to collect, preserve and share the heritage of Lake Wales.

History

The organization began as a project of the 1974 Lake Wales Bicentennial Commission, and the museum was established in 1976. In 1987, the Historical Lake Wales Society, non-profit organization became the governing authority of the Museum. The mission was to collect and preserve local history, and the first task was to establish a repository of collections from the community. From then, the organization evolved into a resource center for the public, formed an annual heritage festival called Pioneer Days, saved three additional historic buildings, three train cars, and continued to care for and celebrate Lake Wales history

Besieged by growing financial hardships brought on by the 2008 recession, the Historic Lake Wales Society was no longer able to sustain the museum operations, and in 2015, the museum was officially reorganized under the City of Lake Wales.

Artifact Collections

To date, 60% of the museum’s 20,000-item collection has been inventoried, and stored in a new offsite facility.

Governance

The Lake Wales History Museum is owned and operated by the City of Lake Wales.

ADA

For any persons with disabilities, we have a zero-entry ramp to the main galleries of the museum. We have designated accessible parking spaces and restrooms. Although the second level of the house is only accessible via stairs, plans are in motion to add a wheelchair lift. Staff and volunteers will do their best to accommodate any individuals with special needs or disabilities.

Wheelchair Accessible

Services

Gift Shop

Special Event Rental

Group Tours

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