In 1973, the National Trust for Historic Preservation dedicated the month of May toward promoting historic places in communities nationwide. In Polk County, the declaration helps get the word out about the importance of preserving local history year-round.
Everyone has places that are important to them. Places that they care about. Places that matter. The Polk County History Center works with the Polk County Historical Commission, Polk’s municipalities and heritage groups to identify and promote such revered places countywide. Through these collaborations, sites across Polk have developed curated tours, hosted on-site programming and engaged with historical marker programs on national, state and local levels.
To promote local preservation at the History Center’s home in Bartow, programs include curated tours of the Old Polk County Courthouse, Bartow’s Historic Oak Hill and Evergreen & Palm Cemeteries and Main Street Bartow, nearly all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This Place Matters.
Historical marker programs are among the most popular and visible public history programs worldwide. Designed to raise public awareness among sites of great historical or cultural significance, markers are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. The National Park Service manages the National Register and the Florida Department of State manages the State Historical Marker program.
Locally, the Polk County Historical Commission manages a marker program specific to sites in Polk. Initiated in 1956, this program includes recognition for persons, events, institutions, buildings, communities and cemeteries as Polk County Heritage sites. To date, 29 markers have been placed at locations countywide – including the newest marker sponsored by the City of Bartow at Evergreen & Palm Cemeteries, Bartow’s historic Black cemeteries.
Which sites in your community are identified?
The History Center has compiled and mapped the locations of each marker and more than 100 additional sites countywide. Visit polkhistorycenter.org or scan this QR code to explore the listings within the History Center’s digital collection.
The History Center is open 9am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday at 100 E. Main St. in Bartow. Visit polkhistorycenter.org or call (863) 534-4386 for more information on exhibits and programming.