By Sebastian Escalante
The Seminole County Historical Commission held a meeting on Sept. 17 to discuss its plans for various landmarks and attractions within the county.
Commissioners discussed reports on the Museum of Seminole County History and the Seminole County Historical Commission. They also discussed what will happen to Balsley Manor, an 1873 mansion that can no longer be maintained by its current owners.
Bennett Lloyd is the coordinator of the Museum of Seminole County History. He said Balsley Manor is currently owned by a church in Paola, west of Sanford.
Without the funds to keep using the building, the church has requested for the Balsley Manor to be moved. It is one of the oldest residences in Seminole County and the last surviving rural agricultural mansions that once dominated the orange groves that built the wealth of Florida prior to 1894.
Lloyd also announced that attendance of the Seminole County museum has declined by 75% compared to attendance numbers from before the coronavirus pandemic. The museum had been closed for three months due to the pandemic, and it was not the only local museum affected.
Many events had to be cancelled due to safety reasons and “with them go most sources of fundraising.” Many museums are struggling financially. Other routes to acquire funds have also been cut.
There are grants that museums use for resources, but due to the non-essential status of museums, many of these grants have been allocated elsewhere, Lloyd explained.
In order to keep patrons safe, the Museum of Seminole County History has taken many measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Seminole County requires the mask mandate, rigorous cleaning procedures, enforced social distancing and stations that dispense hand sanitizer. With these proper coronavirus prevention guidelines, it should be safe to visit all of the exhibits that are currently running.
“From Humors to Healthcare: Medicine in Seminole County” is an exhibit that is running until Oct. 31. It is about how the human knowledge of healing has changed over the years and how it affected Seminole County.
When asked about his favorite exhibits, Lloyd named the Second Seminole War Room. It is about the war that brought Anglo-American settlement to Seminole County. It is currently being updated and it will contain a model of Fort Mellon, which once sat on the shores of Lake Monroe.
The Seminole County Historical Commission, headed by Don Epps, has added a new member to the Board of Directors. The new recruit is named Serena Ramos, and she is on staff at the Altamonte Springs chapel.