The Sanford Museum opened in 1957 as The Henry Shelton Sanford Memorial Library and Museum. The building was expanded in 1974 and again in 1993. The Sanford Family Collection, including the library and papers of city founder Henry S. Sanford, was donated to the city by Sanford’s daughter Carola Sanford Dow. On display are European and American paintings, furniture, personal objects and books from 1820-1890.
The Sanford museum is located on 520 East 1st
street, in downtown Sanford Florida, next to Fort Mellon park on Sanford’s
historic waterfront. The museum is also known as a gallery and has exhibits of
local history including: city plans, railroads, riverboats, agriculture,
businesses, education, local celebrities, the fire and police department, and
the naval air station of Sanford. The sports collection highlights the
achievements of Sanford natives including sportscaster Red Barber, Baseball
stars Tim Raines and David Eckstein, professional football stars Jeff Blake and
Reggie Branch and Drew “Bundini” Brown, also known as Muhammed Ali’s corner
man. The exhibit includes Hall of Fame players who were in Sanford with the New
York Giants’ farm system in the 1950s (Sanford Florida).
Mediterranean revival building was completed in 1994. It surrounds the first
structure of the museum built in 1957. After opening in 1957, the museum
continued to expand in 1974. Established as a memorial to the city’s founder,
Henry S. Sanford, the museum today houses exhibits dealing with the history of
the city as well as the life and times of its founder. The Sanford museum in
1957, was known as the Henry Shelton Sanford Memorial Library and Museum. The
Sanford family collection including the library and papers of city founder
Henry S. Sanford, was donated to the city by Sanford’s daughter Carola Sanford
Dow. On display are European and American paintings, furniture, personal
objects, and books from 1820 – 1890 (Sanford, Florida).
Sanford museum is one of the oldest museum in Sanford. The opening ceremonies
were attended by Henry Sanford’s daughter, Carola Sanford Dow, and two of his
grandchildren, Stephen Sanford and Jane Sanford Pansa. In her will of 1901,
Gertrude Sanford expressed a desire that the City of Sanford, Florida have her
husband’s library as his memorial. Sanford’s daughter, Carola Sanford Dow
fulfilled this wish. In 1957 the Henry Shelton Sanford Memorial Library and
Museum, was built to include the decorative arts collection of General Sanford.
museum was open to let the people learn about who the founder of Sanford was.
Henry Sanford lived mainly in Connecticut. He never lived in Sanford. Sanford
was one of his investments. Sanford was the gateway to go further down south.
At first the City of Sanford was known for citrus fruits, but then that changed
due to the cold killing the citrus fruit. This led the city to become known for
something else. The City of Sanford became known for celery. The New York
Giants came to Sanford and used the city for their training camp. Jackie
Robinson was the first black baseball player in Sanford and was traveling along
with the New York Giants. The navy base was also set up in Sanford. At one
point in time Sanford was Orange County, then it later on became Seminole
County. The Sanford Museum is significant because it tells the story of the
founder of Sanford and the history of the City of Sanford. People didn’t know
who Henry S. Sanford was and how the City of Sanford was established. Florida
legislature named Sanford as the county seat, twenty- two years after Henry
Sanford’s death in 1891.
Sanford also opened the Sanford House. It had social gatherings and community
dances there with two hundred rooms available. This was the hotel Henry Sanford
built in 1875. Three presidents have stayed at the hotel – Ulysses S. Grant,
Chester A. Arthur, and Grover Cleveland. Guests would have chartered a steam
yacht for the night and the yacht would cruise along the St. Johns River.
The Sanford House which faced the lake,
provided a garden for its guests between the front porch and the lake. This
would be the gathering area for the speeches during the Fourth of July celebration
following the county’s creation a few months earlier. (Robison 48) Typical of
the resort hotels of its time, the sprawling three – story wooden structure
featured a wide, open veranda with dozens of rocking chairs. Guests played
croquet within the well – kept, fenced grounds that faced Henry S. Sanford’s
horticultural park on the lakefront. For more adventurous guests, the hotel
arranged bass fishing and hunting for turkeys, deer, quail, and alligators. (Robison