An old school, a farm, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and several houses among other buildings; they all make up the historic & fascinating Yesteryear Village.
The South Florida Fair is made up of hundreds of individual events all along the approximately 135 acres that comprise the Fairgrounds. One of the most interesting events and tours is in the Yesteryear Village section that houses the people and ideas of early Florida. This is a unique experience to travel back in time and visualize bits and flashes of the rich history of cities in Palm Beach County and that of the state of Florida itself.
The South Florida Fair’s Yesteryear Village is a history park nestled within the fairgrounds, showcasing buildings and artifacts from 1895 to 1945 that come to life thanks to enthusiastic volunteers who will welcome visitors with smiles and treats. You can even sit down on an old rocker or on benches at the porches to chat with them about how life used to be like more than a 100 years ago. “Back in the Old Times” peopled lived with very few necessities and no luxuries of life. Furniture were limited to homemade beds, chests of drawers, tables, and chairs. Cooking was done in iron kettles with skillets, pots and tin pans present in all households. And this is what guests can experience, enlightened by volunteer staff dressed in voluminous skirts with long loose full-flowing garments hanging from the shoulders and jeans.
“A lot of history of the Palm Beaches, the state of Florida and other areas of the country is displayed in the Yesteryear Village at the South Florida Fair.”
Compared to today’s farming with all the modern farm machinery, the Yesteryear Village depicts the true scenario of farming in Florida more than a 100 years ago. Amusements were simple but were keenly enjoyed. All that history has been collected meticulously and preserved in several houses and cottages.
A rural church of the 19th century originally constructed in 1893 that served as a Baptist congregation until 1953 until a new church was built, was dissembled and reconstructed at the Yesteryear Village and now shows how churches used to be religious centers and also places for social gatherings.
A stop by the Riddle House will delight you with its simple architecture and wide porch. Originally said to be built by Henry Flagler, it was the home of the Superintendent of Woodland Cemetery, but most prominent as the home of the first City Manager of West Palm Beach, Karl Riddle.
Remember Palm Beach developer Paris Singer, a son of Isaac Singer, the Singer Sewing Machine magnate? If you don’t, the Sewing Circle Tourist Cabin will do. This is a cabin circa 1900’s built to accommodate the tourists and included a kitchenette and a bathroom attached in the back. In this cabin at the South Florida Fair’s Yesteryear Village guest are transported back in time through textiles and early sewing machines as displayed for travelers who used to visit Riviera Beach in the 1900’s.
Now we have sumptuous and sophisticated smartphones, thanks in part to Alexander Graham who invented the telephone, who did important works in communication for the deaf and held more than 18 patents. The Southern Bell Telephone Exhibit in the Yesteryear Villages is dedicated to the history of telephony and is a one-of-a-kind journey to learn about how telephones were used featuring a large display of different phones, old and rare in a property built around 1931; moved to the Yesteryear Village and renovated by volunteers from the Bellsouth Telephone Pioneers.
And as Florida has always drawn the attention of northern states when it is winter, on the Village’s L Street you will find a residence circa 1925 that used to be a typical house built in Florida during the first land boom. These houses were built for the working class and laborers, but many part-time residents from the north also used to live in them at the time Lake Worth’s population soared from 1920 to 1930 to over eight thousands residents.
There’s even a museum within the boundaries of the historical South Florida Fair’s Yesteryear Village: “The Bink Glisson Exhibit”. This is a replica of the Haile Plantation House in Alachua County and was constructed by Bink and Joan Glisson, housing a large variety of historical objects collected by Glisson.
Nothing more educational at the fascinating Yesteryear Village than a visit to the Loxahatchee Groves Schoolhouse built around 1935. It is a rural Florida school of two rooms and the first building to be relocated to the Village in 1990. Once you walk in, be prepared to a detailed account of how school was like from the 1936 to the 1965 in Loxahatchee.
Photo Gallery: What to expect to see at the Yesteryear Village
During your next visit to the South Florida Fair this year, take time to make a stop at the Yesteryear Village to see history itself stand in front of you. There will also be lots of other attractions – bluegrass and country music, food, games, animal watching and different shows by volunteers of the fair. It will be a valuable moment for families to walk among many historic buildings, staffed by volunteers in period costumes who will do their best to create an exciting learning experience for the visiting public.
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