Sebastian Area Historical Museum
1235 Main Street
in the Sebastian City Hall Complex
Sebastian, FL 32958
The Sebastian Area Historical Museum is located in the 1927 Historic Sebastian Public School.
The new Sebastian Area Historical Museum has exhibits on the Ais Indians, Pelican Island, Clothing, Family Life, Quilts, Fishing, Agriculture, Military, Transportation, Early Shops and Trades, book shop and research facilities.
The Sebastian Area Historical Society, Inc. is dedicated to preserving the history of the Sebastian area through research and publications; to protecting historical materials, buildings and sites for the enjoyment of present and future generations; and to presenting local history to the community and visitors through a museum, educational programs and exhibits.
Membership Sebastian Area Historical Society membership dues are: Annual Individual -$15; Annual Business/Professional -$25.
The Society publishes local histories. Included are "Tales of Sebastian," $20; "More Tales of Sebastian," $20; "Even More Tales of Sebastian, $20; "A Guide to Historic Sebastian and Roseland," $4; plus postcards and notecards.
The Society's newsletter is a membership benefit. It is published quarterly.
Officers George O'Neill, President; Kathy McDonald, Vice President; Ellen Stanley, Secretary; Shirley Kilkelly, Treasurer.
2013-2014 Programs: TBA
October 16, 2013 - 7:30 p.m.
November 20, 2013 - 7:30 p.m.
January 15, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.
February 19, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.
March 19, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.
The Sebastian Area Historical Society, Inc. provides thought-provoking and educational programs at the North County Library, at 7:30 p.m., October, November, January, February and March, on the third Wednesday of the month each year.
Events are free and open to the public. Refreshments are provided.
The North Indian River County Library is located at 1001 Sebastian Blvd. (CR512) at Roseland Rd.
For additional information, call (772)581-1380 or email: SAHSI@att.net.
"EVEN MORE Tales of Sebastian" Now Available
At Historical Museum, North County Library and Sebastian Chamber of Commerce.
"It's not often a book comes along which appeals to all ages, a book that is both entertaining and educational, a book full of adventure and discovery which highlights what came before us, a book which relives history and helps us identify ourselves in the colorful history of Florida."
That's what Valerie Van Haltern, educator and Friends For Seniors coordinator, recently said about "Even More Tales of Sebastian," the new book being published in November by the Sebastian Area Historical Society.
"This book is for children, parents, grandparents, history buffs and educators. Share these revived words and experiences with everyone. Enjoy the stories full of real Florida life and adventure. Relive the days of exploration and discovery together!" she added.
Beth Mitchell, Executive Director of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, was just as enthusiastic.
"I was surprised by how up-front many of those interviewed by Phil Bova were with their comments. It takes a special skill to draw out decades-old feelings and details about growing up in Sebastian."
Another reader, Sally Maio, City Clerk of Sebastian, realized while reading the stories people told in the book how much she had been a part of what is now considered history.
"Although I didn't spend my childhood in Sebastian, I have lived here for 27 years. When I came here, you could drive down CR512 -- then it was called Fellsmere Road -- go to FoodTown and not see another car on the road."
"I went to work at City Hall in 1986 in the former old Sebastian Elementary School in the same area that now houses the Historical Society. My old office now displays Military, Farming and Fishing exhibits. So much has changed. This book brings back all those memories."
What's in "EVEN MORE TALES OF SEBASTIAN"?
The first part of the 148-page book has interviews with 25 local and former residents who went to school or worked in Sebastian, Some interviews were by later generations of pioneer families.
Minimal editing preserves the "down-to-earth" conversational appeal of the taped interviews by Sebastian Area Historical Society board member Phil Bova.
Photographs and stories told in the Society's first two books, "Tales of Sebastian" and "More Tales of Sebastian" are not repeated.
George Keyes, who selected photographs for the first two "Tales" books, was again asked to illustrate the articles, using his own and the Society's rich photographic collections. He also contributed several chapters, including one on the beginnings of the Sebastian Area Historical Society.
Doris Jorgensen served as a senior editor, wrote several chapters and also described early Historical Society programs.
Phil Bova interviewed the majority of those whose stories are told. Wilma Bertling served as Chair of the Committee, transcribed the interviews and did the computer production of the book.
Official FEC Historian Seth H. Bramson volunteered a chapter on the Fellsmere Railroad that once ran between Sebastian and Fellsmere.
Kathy McDonald, Anne D. Michael and Valerie Van Haltern were key members of the Book Committee; they were assisted by community readers and other contributors in getting the book ready for publication.
Andrea Frank at Sebastian River High School and Pamela Sommers at Sebastian Middle School submitted student art to illustrate the local interviews. John Sahlman's painting of a Cracker House, aerial views by Jerry Peterman and John Boncek, photographs by Judith Keyes Knapp, Bill Ocker and Dot Judah are other highlights of the book.
Of special interest are interviews by Phil Bova with Douglas Kroegel, Deanie and Buddy Taylor, Betty Taylor Walther, Robert Hardee Chesser and Meta Chesser Keen, all from pioneer Sebastian families.
Also, fishermen (and one woman) --- Archie Joe Warren, Jeff Green, Alfred Conniff, Carl Boberg, Tom Stewart and Pat Davis.
Other interviews are by I. J. Anderson and James Hume who were Sebastian Volunteer Firemen in the 1950s, Daisy Knowles, long-time associate of Dr. Kip Kelso, founder of Sebastian River Medical Center; and Peter D. Wimbrow, whose father, mother and sister edited the North County newspaper, "Indian River News," Wimbrow's sister, SallyDale, was also a General Development Corporation (GDC) sales representative while the Sebastian Highlands was under contruction by the Mackle Brothers.
Lee Skinner lived in the Quay Depot after it was moved to Roseland. Laurent Smith was Principal of the old Sebastian Elementary School when it closed, and Richard Thomas lived in Sebastian and was Principal at other Indian River County Schools. Connie Lawrence Willis was in the last graduating class at the old Sebastian Elementary School.
Kip Kelso, Jr. , supervises the Sebastian Cemetery where you can learn a lot about Sebastian history. Cindy Bowman saw the beginnings of the population explosion when the Sebastian Highlands development changed Sebastian forever. Airport Manager John Van Antwerp provided the impetus that successfully built the Sebastian Golf Course.
Special histories begin with the official FEC Historian Seth H. Bramson's article about the small Fellsmere-to-Sebastian, railroad, titled " A Round Trip to Fellsmere, Please," and Fellsmere Sugar Mill photos from Clarence F. Korker and Richard B. Votapka.
Others are "The Silent Movies," with four pages in color of glass slides used to advertise local businesses during intermissions at the local movie house in Sebastian, "Civil War Soldiers," and "The Early Days of the Sebastian Area Historical Society," all by Doris Jorgensen.
There is also "Indian River Chronology" and "The Historical Society's Beginnings" by George Keyes, "The Sebastian Highlands," compiled by Wilma Bertling, and "How Sebastian Got Its Name," by Daniel Clark.
Readers will find the story of "The Six Ole Grouches" and many different "Welcome to Sebastian" signs of great interest. Indexes are provided for this book and the two previous "Tales of Sebastian" books.
SPONSORS OF THE BOOK
The Sebastian River Medical Center provided the initial funds for this book, following the opening of its new Medical Wing in November, 2010. With that seed money the Society established a Book Fund to cover the printing costs. It received individual contributions that ranged from $15 to $1,000.
All proceeds from book sales benefit the Society's community programs.
Sponsors of the book are: Sebastian River Medical Center; Mrs. Don S (Alice) Vickers; Michelle Napier (Dill & Evans, Attorneys); Gabor Insurance Services, Inc.; Rene G. VanDeVoorde; Doris R. Jorgensen; Mrs. Joe Michael; Capt. Hiram's Restaurant; George B. Keyes; Sebastian River Art Club; Ruth M. Stanbridge; Alice C. Vickers; Don Wright Real Estate, L.L.C.; Squidly's Book Store; Roger Meeker; Norman I. Meyer, DDS; Karen and Bud O'Neill; Gil and Rhoda Swiger; Patricia Thompson; Ken and Diane Chapin; Laura B. Conner; Mary F. McGlaughlin; Frances Salerno; Andrea and Bernard Snarski; Dorothy and Richard O. Thomas, Jr.; G. Trefor Thomas.
Sebastian Historians Have Major 2011 Goal.
Three historians, one 96, one 89 and one a mere 81 have teamed up to start a year-long project to publish a third history of Sebastian.
If they meet their goal, "Tales of Sebastian," published in 1990, and "MORE Tales of Sebastian," published in 1992, will be joined by a third volume, "EVEN MORE Tales of Sebastian" later this year.
George Keyes has been the official photographer of the Sebastian Area Historical Society since its founding in 1985. His photographs provide the basis for the Society's rich photographic collections.
In his working years George was a professional photographer. When he moved to Sebastian in the early '80s, he began photographing old houses in the area. At the same time, a volunteer in the small Sebastian Library was interviewing long-time residents, and soon there was talk about starting a local historical society to collect and preserve these materials.
George put together a slide show for a local meeting, and asked for information about the houses from the people who attended. This was the auspicious beginning.
Those endeavors resulted in the first "Tales of Sebastian," as a fundraiser to support the group's activities and the eventual opening of a historical museum.
Doris Jorgensen, a newly-arrived resident from Connecticut, was one of those who volunteered right away to help gather stories from old-time residents, sketch historical scenes, and assemble materials for the first book. While living in New England, she collected antiques and memorabilia and frequented its many historic sites.
After the first "Tales" was published, there was sufficient new material to warrant the publication of a second book two years later. The success of the first book made a reprint necessary to satisfy he demand. Both Doris and George continued their involvement with the books, newsletters, community lectures, collection and preservation of historical artifacts, and worked to open the two Sebastian museum sites. Both continue to be Historical Society Board members.
The Society observed its 25th anniversary in 2009-10 after moving the original museum to the historic Sebastian Elementary School. A newcomer to the Board, Wilma Bertling suggested taped interviews be arranged with former students of the school which closed in 1981.
Board member Phil Bova, a former Long Is,land, NY, school teacher and mortgage banker, put in many hours interviewing dozens of former students and others. By 2010, all his interviews made possible "EVEN MORE Tales of Sebastian." Wilma volunteered to chair a book committee. She had eperience as a university editor, a graphic arts coordinator, and a museum administrator in Buffalo, NY.
A donation to partially underwrite the book project came from the Sebastian River Medical Center shortly after it opened its new medical wing in 2010. Additional funds are now being raised from community businesses, civic groups and individuals.
The new "Tales" format will match that of the first two books. In addition to the memories now on tape, it will include background on the old Sebastian Elementary Sschool, many City departments, and local commercial fishing and citrus growing.
Also, records of Confederate and Union Civil War veterans in the Ssebastian Cemetery, Quay Depot, the Indian River Lagoon, and the St. Sebastian River, silent movies in Sebastian, the Sebastian Highlands, the "Indian River News," the Fellsmere Sugar Mill, and much more.
Art students from Sebastian schools will provide drawings for some of teh stories.
Seth H. Bramson, official Florida East Coast Railway historian, has volunteered to author a section on Sebastian's two railroads. Sebastian was the junction of the FEC for the Trans Florida Central railroad to Fellsmere. Fish, fruit, tomatoes and sugar were sent to northern markets from the freight station in Sebastian.
As the project continues, additional volunteers are needed to research, edit, draw, proofread and index. To volunteer, call (772) 589-1673 or (772) 581-1380.
History of the Sebastian Area Historical Society
The Sebastian Area Historical Society was formed when a few residents wanted to save the old FEC Raiload Station from destruction in 1984. Before this could be completed part of the station was burned by vandals.
Measures were then taken to form a local historical group to protect buildings and important public and private papers and photographs. The Society received its incorporation on May 31,1985, as the Sebastian River Area Historical Society. "River" was removed in 1993 to reflect its larger community.
Many fundraisers were held. Volunteers interviewed old-timers and gathered historical materials, published two books, offered free historical lectures, and in 1998, created a museum that, unfortunately, was severely damaged by hurricanes "Frances" and "Jeanne" in 2004.
A museum opened in 2007 at 1235 Main Street, Sebastian, FL, in the newly-renovated 1927 Historic Sebastian School. It has a wide range of local history exhibits and a reference library open by appointment.
For additional information, call 772-581-1380, or write to Sebastian Area Historical Society, PO Box 781348, Sebastian, FL 32978. email@example.com