This Women’s History Month, there are a number of stops on the Florida Women’s Heritage Trail right here in Central Florida you can visit to learn more about the contributions ladies have made to history right here in the Sunshine State.
All you need is some time and a tank of gas to do it.
Florida Historical Society, Tebeau-Field Library, 435 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa, FL 32922 (321) 690-1971
In 1927, Jeanette Thurber Conner of New Smyrna Beach organized the Florida State Historical Society with Colonel John B. Stetson, Jr. It later merged with the Florida Historical Society which acquired the current building in 1997 to house its growing collection of maps and historical documents.
Washington Oaks State Gardens, 6400 North Oceanshore Boulevard, Palm Coast, FL 32137 (386) 446-6780
In 1936, Owen and Louise Young (1887-1965) purchased part of the historic Bella Vista Plantation, south of St. Augustine. It became their winter home. They created a garden which contained almost every kind of plant, shrub, tree, and flower that could be grown in the area. Following her husband’s death in 1964, Louise donated the property to the state. Their home now serves as the park’s interpretive center.
Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, 227 East Kennedy Boulevard, Eatonville, FL 32751 (407) 647-3307
For African Americans in Florida and throughout the country, Eatonville has great significance. It is the oldest surviving incorporated black municipality and possesses a rich tradi- tional culture immortalized in the works of Zora Neale Hurston (1901- 1960). The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts offers a kaleidoscope of exhibitions repre- senting the work of African diaspora artists. Each January, the nationally renowned Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities presents a vibrant street festival with vendors and performing artists, as well as a series of lectures, dramatic works, exhibitions, and poetry readings by influential AfricanAmerican scholars and cultural figures. In addition to Eatonville, Hurston also lived in Miami, Fort Pierce and St. Augustine, where she taught at Florida Normal College (now located in Miami and called Florida Memorial College).
Edyth Bush Theatre Civic Theater of Central Florida, 1001 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803 (407) 896-7365
Edyth Bush (1900-1972) and her husband, Archibald, were heirs to the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing fortune, who wintered in Winter Park. Throughout her life, Edyth was committed to the arts and to the metropolitan Orlando community. She established the Edyth Bush Foundation, an important force in the cultural growth of the area. Much of her personal philanthropy went toward assisting organizations serving crippled or handicapped children, the blind, the deaf and private higher education.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, 445 Park Avenue North, Winter Park, FL 32789 (407) 645-5311
Jeannette Genius McKean (1909- 1989), an artist, and her husband Hugh, president of Rollins College from 1951 to 1969, were committed to American art. They collected over 4,000 pieces, most notably the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany. One of many significant works in the collection. Tiffany’s 1893 Chapel for the World’s Columbian Exposition, has been reassembled and is on display at the Morse Museum.
Annie Russell Theatre, Rollins College Campus, 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789 (407) 646-2501
Annie Russell (1864-1936) was an innovative stage producer and a noted British and Canadian actress. She was the first to introduce the use of electric lighting for dramatic effect to New York Theater. When she retired in 1918, she moved to Winter Park, and in 1929 became head of the dramatic arts program at Rollins College. She enlisted the financial support of her friends to fund the construction of a theatre for the performing arts. It was built in 1932 and she supervised its operations until her death in 1936 at the age of 72.
Mount Peace Cemetery, 775 East 10th Street, St. Cloud, FL 34769 (407) 957-7257
Kaku Sudo (1861-1963) was born in Northern Japan. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1891 and to Florida in 1907. Sudo attended medical school in Cincinnati and became the first woman doctor of Japanese descent in the United States. She never married and spent most of her life in or near St. Cloud where she died at the age of 102.
Mary McLeod Bethune Home, 641 Pearl Street off Second Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32114 (386) 255-1401
The Mary McLeod Bethune (1875- 1955) Home is a National Historic Landmark. The daughter of former slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune rose to become a noted educator and advisor to presidents. She lived in this house from the 1920s until her death in 1955. The simple, two-story frame vernacular structure is now a house museum. It contains original furnishings and serves as the ar- chives for the Mary McLeod Bethune Papers.