The Osceola County Historical Society collects and preserves the county’s history, and provides educational, research, and recreational opportunities to foster an understanding of the area’s cultural and natural heritage for residents and visitors.
The history of the Osceola County Historical Society began when Charles and Twylah Hartley of St. Cloud and Alma Hetherington of Kissimmee chartered the organization on October 29, 1949, to properly preserve artifacts and publish articles that would ensure Osceola County’s heritage lived on for years to come.
For some 20 years beginning in the 1960s the Historical Society displayed artifacts and other historical items in a wing of the Osceola Center for the Arts building.
In 1987, Ross and Willa Lanier donated their historical family home to OCHS. The house, built in 1889, is known today as the “Lanier Cracker House.” During the same year, the Spence family heirs, Carl and Ruth Yates Spence, donated four acres of land and their family home at 750 North Bass Road in Kissimmee. The Historical Society moved the Lanier Cracker House to the property and opened the Osceola County Pioneer Enrichment Center, which helped mark the county’s 1887 centennial celebration. In 1990, the OCHS collection was moved from the Osceola Center for the Arts, to the Pioneer Enrichment Center.
In 2006, an Inter-Local Agreement between the Historical Society, Osceola County, the City of Kissimmee, the City of St. Cloud, and the Osceola County School Board provided funding to hire an executive director. The organization renamed the Pioneer Enrichment Center to the Pioneer Village.
In 2010, Osceola County approved the expansion of the Pioneer Village and Museum to the Shingle Creek Regional Park. This partnership between Osceola County and the Historical Society led to the organization’s operation of the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum, located at 4155 W. Vine Street in Kissimmee, which opened in October of 2012.
The Narcoossee Chapter of the Osceola County Historical Society was created in 2012 with the mission of restoring and refurnishing the historic Narcoossee School House in its original location at 5026 Yukon Street in Narcoossee. The Historical Society took possession of the historic schoolhouse in December 2013 and received a 99-year lease for the property from Osceola County.
In November 2014, the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek opened at 2491 Babb Road in Kissimmee. The Historical Society relocated four historical structures from the Pioneer Village at Bass Road – the Tyson House, the Lanier Cracker House, the Cadman Citrus Packing House, and the Cadman Boys’ Room. Four additional historical structures from throughout the county were added including a caretaker house and barn from Henry O. Partin’s ranch and the kitchen and main house from the Cadman’s property in Narcoossee. The county agreement for the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek included a 50-year lease for the 10 acres that comprise the Pioneer Village.
The property at Bass Road now houses a research center and the OCHS artifacts, historical documents and archives.
Today, more than 17,000 people each year learn about the county’s history by visiting Welcome Center & History Museum and Pioneer Village. Additionally, the Historical Society hosts events throughout the year, provides educational programs and field trip opportunities, and participates in community outreach events.
The Osceola County Historical Society is a 501c3 non-profit organization.