An original 1902 classroom – with a 45-star American flag and portrait of President Teddy Roosevelt – will be featured at a Turn of the Century Workshop hosted March 22 by the University of Central Florida at its Public History Center in Sanford.
Described by historians as the state’s oldest continuously used school building, the history center will hold a three-hour, family-oriented workshop to show what life was like in Central Florida at the turn of the 20th century, including a typical school day when report cards included “deportment,” students used slates, and there was a dunce cap in the corner.
“It was simple, but it was more stringent,” said Cynthia Tomerlin, coordinator for educational and training programs at the Public History Center. “Our children would struggle in 1902 with the way they taught then. It was a lot more disciplined, very regimented. Children stood when they spoke, and the boys and girls were separated – in class, on the playground and when eating.”
Many students walked for miles to attend classes, “but it was a privilege,” she said.
Besides the workshop’s planned classroom exercises of reviewing multiplication tables, taking a spelling test of common words of the day, and writing a letter with a turkey quill filled with freshly smashed berries as ink, there also will be other turn-of-the-century activities in the center. Participants will have the opportunity to make and taste butter; walk through the demonstration garden to find out what kinds of foods were grown by Central Florida homesteaders; and play with period toys and games – with no batteries.
The center is housed in what was Sanford’s first high school. The building became a grammar school in 1911, and in 1984 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places when it became the Seminole County Public Schools’ Student Museum, an interpretive center and hands-on teaching laboratory.
UCF leased the building from the Seminole school district two years ago at 301 W. 7th St., in the heart of Sanford’s historic district, to create the Public History Center. In addition to the original classroom, the center also has a pioneer room with a log cabin and tools; a display of household items and clothes; a Timucua room that represents a 1,200-year-old village; Georgetown and Crooms High School exhibits that feature the city’s African-American community, and other historic artifacts.
The center offers community workshops, promotes involvement in historic preservation and offers numerous programs, including serving as a destination for 4th-grade classes, which are required to study Florida history.
The cost for the workshop is $13 for adults, $7 for children, and free for children 3 and under.
Space is limited for the Turn of the Century Workshop, so participants are asked to register by March 17 by emailing Cynthia.Tomerlin@ucf.edu. For more information, call 407-936-1679.