The West Pasco Historical Society and Museum, New Port Richey, Florida

Updated on July 17, 2020
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

The West Pasco Historical Society and Museum is a fun and interesting place to spend an afternoon.
The West Pasco Historical Society and Museum is a fun and interesting place to spend an afternoon. | Source

Despite having made countless trips to the west coast of Florida over the last 30 years, I just recently discovered a very interesting museum located in Sims Park in the heart of New Port Richey (about 30 miles north of Clearwater). The West Pasco Historical Society was formed in 1973 and has been educating visitors ever since with a unique look back at the history of this coastal region of Florida. The museum is housed in the former Seven Springs schoolhouse, which was built in 1915.

History of the Museum

The old schoolhouse itself has a long history in Pasco County, having served as a school until 1925. The building was subsequently sold and became a private residence for many years. In 1981, the West Pasco Historical Society became interested in the property when it again was sold. After months of planning, negotiation, and a lot of hard work, the building was purchased by the Historical Society and relocated to Sims Park.

Two years of extensive renovations followed, and on January 16, 1983, the building was finally opened to the public. In 1992 a library was added, and in 2011 the interior of the museum was again remodeled. At the grand re-opening in 2011, the museum was renamed the Rao Musunuru MD Museum and Library, named after a very generous local donor.

The West Pasco Historical Society Museum & Library
The West Pasco Historical Society Museum & Library | Source

What to See in the Museum

The museum offers visitors a unique glimpse into what life was like decades ago in this part of Florida. Many of the exhibits highlight the local businesses that were at one time the mainstay of this community. The sheer number of artifacts on display from days gone by is simply amazing. They represent the type of retail establishments that fueled the local economy and provided goods, services, and entertainment to residents.

A few of the more interesting permanent displays are the Mckay Shoe Repair, the Zane Rankin Grocery Store, and the Thomas Meighan Theater. Nothing outlandish or fancy, just the kind of mom-and-pop businesses that were the heart and soul of practically every community in the early to mid-20th century.

McKay Shoe Repair Display
McKay Shoe Repair Display | Source

As you explore your way around the museum you will eventually come to the library. For the most part, the collection is of books, newspaper articles, photos, and maps of the local area used by historians for their research. There is a collection of local school yearbooks dating back to the 1940s, so if you happen to have attended school in the area you may be able to find that long lost yearbook photo.

The library also contains a small selection of novels and biographies for those looking for a little entertainment reading.

Source

Hollywood of the East

Unbeknownst to me was that this area of Florida was at one time known as the "Hollywood of the East" and the museum has an area dedicated to this. A number of celebrities visited New Port Richey and enjoyed the region’s warm winter weather and access to beautiful beaches.

Probably the area’s most famous part-time resident was country singer Johnny Cash, who visited the area often. June Carter’s parents lived in Port Richey on the Cotee River and the home was passed on to Johnny and June following their deaths. Johnny Cash enjoyed the laid-back and friendly atmosphere of the community and could often be seen fishing off of his dock or out on the gulf.

Hollywood came to New Port Richey
Hollywood came to New Port Richey | Source

With a long history of Native American life in this part of Florida, there is also a section of the museum dedicated to the Indigenous People who inhabited the area. There are artifacts on display from the Timucuan and Seminole people, and their history dates back over 1500 years. The display shown in the photo below contains a wonderful collection of arrowheads discovered in the local area.

Indian Artifacts
Indian Artifacts | Source

I think you’ll enjoy the vast collection of artifacts the museum has on display; it really opens your eyes and mind to what life was like here on Florida’s west coast and how it has progressed over the decades to where it is today. The museum is more like an antique collection, so if you enjoy antiquing you will certainly enjoy your visit.

Before leaving the museum, be sure to chat with the curator, who can share a wealth of information on the museum and the local area. There is also a small gift shop that has some very unique and unusual items made by local crafters and jewelers.

Source

Museum Visitor Information

The West Pasco Historical Society Museum and Library is located at 6431 Circle Boulevard in New Port Richey. Their phone number is 727-847-0680.

  • Hours: ​Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.*
  • Special times for school tours and other groups can be arranged.
  • Normal Entry Fee:​ $3

*Currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Membership to the Museum is available:

  • ​Individual:​ $30
  • ​Family:​ $50
  • ​Business: ​$100
  • ​Under 18: ​$5

Source

Other Things to Do in Sims Park

The museum is located in Sims Park, and there are a few other interesting things to do while you are here visiting. Just to the west of the museum is the Cote River, where there is a very scenic river walk that we have done many times. If you are interested in getting out onto the water, there is a kayak/canoe launch here, and it is common to see kayakers cruising the river. We have been out on the Cote River a couple of times, and it makes for a relaxing and scenic journey.

One of the boardwalks on Orange Lake in Sims Park
One of the boardwalks on Orange Lake in Sims Park | Source

Sims Park also contains a splash pad park for kids, a playground, picnic tables, and a concert bandshell for live entertainment. One of my favorite things about the park is the beautiful path that circles Orange Lake located directly in front of the museum. The path provides a safe and scenic route for walkers in a beautiful setting, and we have used this on numerous occasions.

Two newly constructed boardwalks extend out over the water, which is great for viewing the many local birds that frequent the lake. The green areas around the lake are often used for local art displays, and it’s just a very relaxing and peaceful area for a walk or run.

Orange Lake - The path that circles the pond is approximately 1/3 mile.
Orange Lake - The path that circles the pond is approximately 1/3 mile. | Source

I hope you enjoy your visit to the West Pasco County Historical Society Museum and learn something new about the local area. While there, be sure to take in the many outdoor activities offered in beautiful Sims Park.

A
West Pacso County Museum, New Port Richey, FL:
6431 Circle Blvd, New Port Richey, FL 34652, USA

get directions

© 2020 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you Pam. We enjoy both coasts but spend more time on the west coast as my in-laws live there. The Historical Society Museum is a wonderful place to spend a few hours and the surrounding area is a great place for a nice walk.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, Lorna. It does make for a nice day spending a few hours in the museum and then taking a nice walk along the river. Have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, Flourish. It does bring back memories of a time gone by. They have so many artifacts there, it really makes for an interesting visit. Have a great day.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      This is like a step back through time with those old Coca Cola signs and the card catalog drawers. I bet there’s so much more to discover with the Indian arrowheads. The adjoining natural area sounds especially inviting too.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      4 weeks ago

      I enjoyed this virtual tour of the museum Bill which was fascinating. It would be a lovey way to spend the day with the added bonus of a river-walk. Thank you for sharing this well structured article with wonderful photos.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Heidi. It is a nice little museum to spend a few hours visiting. And both the river-walk and the path around the lake offer a nice location for a walk before or after visiting the museum. Florida is a hotspot right now and I'm sure the museum will be closed for a while, which is a shame.

      Hoping 2021 will be the year to get back out there!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      4 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      This looks like such a cute place to spend an afternoon! Too bad it has to be closed due to the pandemic, especially with FL being a hotspot right now.

      Thanks for sharing and hope you're hanging in there! Traveling will come back for you one day.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, Linda. It’s a nice walk along the river and also around the lake. The Historical Society has done a great job with the museum. Have a great day.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I think I would enjoy visiting the museum very much. I would be sure to go along the river walk in the park as well. The park looks like a lovely place to explore.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      That’s a good question, Peggy. I didn’t think to ask but will next time we are down there. It’s a fascinating place and the park is great for walking, bird watching, etc.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for showing us this fascinating museum and the beautiful park. That photo with the stamps on the front of drawers got my attention because of collecting stamps. I wonder if the drawers had a bunch of those old stamps inside? It is lovely that places like this exist.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Pam. We have spent time on both coasts and they are both very nice although different. We visit this area often as my in-laws live there. The West Pasco Historical Society has done a magnificent job with this museum, you would enjoy it.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi John. It is a very interesting place, we enjoyed seeing how the area developed over the last century. The city of New Port Richey has done a wonderful job of developing the area around the museum and we utilize Sims Park often when we are visiting. Have a great day, John.

    • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, Bill. I'm sure this is a place you would enjoy. We also enjoy all types of museums. A great week to you also.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      The museum would be a wonderful place to visit. I like on the east coast but I know it is more beautiful on the west coast. I love historical societies, so I know I would enjoy the West Pasco County Historical Society.

      Actually, I would enjoy everything in New Port Richey.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      This looks like a very interesting museum, and the surrounds of Sims Park is a stunningly beautiful setting. Thank you for sharing, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      My kind of place. I love museums of all types. Thanks for the tour, my friend. Have a great week!

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