Did you know there was a 120-room luxury hotel that once welcomed seasonal guests to the “Florence Villa?”

Located on the present site of the Spring Lake Shopping Center, the hotel’s guests were met at the Florence Villa rail station and brought by horse drawn wagons to the site. Among its features was an 18-hole golf course on the site of what is now Stately Oaks subdivision and the Spring Lake Retirement Center.

The Museum of Winter Haven History has new artifacts from the hotel and other new exhibits for fall.

Local anglers will also enjoy our special exhibit of Michael Barry’s big fish — an award-winning 10-pound, 2-ounce smallmouth bass that was caught in 1958 on Lake Buckeye.

The museum is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and offers a tour of exhibits at 10 a.m. We also offer tours for four or more participants on other days by appointment.

The museum is located at 660 Pope Avenue at Lake Howard Drive, NW. It is free and open to the public.

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Next week’s column: Historic Signs in the City

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