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

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.

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

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

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.

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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

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

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.

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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
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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

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.

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.

© 2020 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 18, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 17, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 17, 2020:

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 from USA on July 17, 2020:

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 on July 17, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 16, 2020:

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!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 16, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 16, 2020:

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.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 15, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 15, 2020:

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 Woods from Houston, Texas on July 15, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 15, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 15, 2020:

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.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 15, 2020:

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.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 15, 2020:

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.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 15, 2020:

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

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 15, 2020:

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