Over the years Orlando has begun to evolve from being a major tourist destination, to a culturally developing city. As a third generation Orlando native, I have seen this town grow from being strictly a service based industry serving vacationers to now offering local residents a variety of entertainment and educational venues outside the realm of local theme parks. At the core of this cultural development is the ever-changing skyline and sceneryÂ of downtown Orlando. Â The new Amway Center now home to the Orlando Magic basketball teamÂ has drawn crowds of local residents since it's recent opening in October. Future plans of building a new Bob Carr Performing Arts center in the heart of downtown Orlando will continue Orlando's cultural development. While such venues continue to attract crowds and build a sense of community for Orlando citizens, other low key educational venues such as the Orange County Regional Historical Center offer a unique history of Orlando and the surrounding area. This museum isÂ ideal for both children and adults and offers a unique look into our colorful past.Â Â Be sure to check out the historical center in downtown Orlando located at 65 E. Central Blvd. just 1 block West of the downtown public library. The Historical Museum first opened in 1942 in the 1892 red brick Orange County Courthouse at the corner of Central and Magnolia, as a pioneer kitchen exhibit for the Central Florida Centennial Celebration. The popular exhibit remained open; and through public donations of historical objects, large and small, books, papers, and photographs, it grew to fill rooms in the old Courthouse.
The collections went into storage from 1957 until 1963, while the county demolished the 1892 Courthouse and built an addition to the 1927 Courthouse on the site of the old building. The museum reopened in the Courthouse Annex in 1963, under the auspices of Orange County Historical Commission, a new county department established by the County Commissioners in 1957 to ensure fiscal and legal stability. By 1970 , the county government needed the space in the annex, so the museum collection was moved again, to the second floor of the Christ Building, a few doors away on Central Boulevard.
The Orange County Historical Society, Inc., organized in 1971 to raise money for a permanent museum building, which opened in Loch Haven Park in 1976. In 2000, the Historical Museum moved again, back to where it had started at Central Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue. The vacated 1927 Courthouse was restored to become the Orange County Regional History Center, and the Orange County Historical Society became the Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc., operating the History Center in partnership with the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
The current Orange County Regional History Center showcases the vast collections of the Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc. The museum features three floors of permanent exhibitions and also presents nationally important limited-run exhibitions. In 2006, the museum was accepted as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and was accredited by the American Association of Museums, the highest honor a museum can receive.