Fort Meade is the oldest city in Polk County, dating its origins to 1849 when it was established along a new military road from Tampa (Fort Brooke) to Fort Piercefollowing the Second Seminole War. The town and road were originally sited by then-lieutenant George Meade of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, whose commander named it for him. The 1880s business district was located on old Wire Street (now Broadway), which was a casualty of four devastating fires. Today, there are over 150 buildings which are designated as landmarks.[ In the 1890s the Fort Meade Street Railway operated a horse-drawn service in the town.
The earliest known burial is John I. Hooker (1821–1862) located in the town's Evergreen Cemetery. Fort Meade's Christ Church (Episcopal)located at 526 North Oak, was built in 1889. It is a frame vernacularwith Gothic Revival elements and was designed by architect J. H. Weddell. Located next to Christ Church is the famous Rev. Wm James Reid House. Located within the historic district, the house was used for the HBO motion picture The Judgement, featuring Blythe Danner, Keith Carradine and Jack Warden (1990).
Future Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was stationed at the fort in 1851.The town was burned by Union forces in 1864 and all of the original structures were destroyed, except the second fort which was dismantled in the 1890s. Fort Meade has over 300 homes on the National Register of Historic Places and a handful that date to the late 1800s. (Wikipedia)
For millennia, the Native Americans criss-crossed the peninsula migrating from coast to coast in search of food. They then rendezvoused by the Peas River (Tolopchopco "Place Where Green Peas Grow"). So as one enjoys the slow current at the Peace River Landing and strolls toward the large pavilion imagine the sounds of numberless voices and smell the aroma of pit cooked deer and let your mind travel back this land before being discovered by the Spanish. (Canter Brown, PhD)
We have two separate tour experiences to enhance your history adventure with Fort Meade.
First, visit the Museum for a personal tour of memories and artifacts collected by local folk. The Museum is truly the "Jewel of Fort Meade." Admission is free and donations are appreciated.
Secondly, take a Self-Guided Driving Tour through the city using either a printed guide, which can be obtained from the Museum or can be found on this web site drop-down menu: HISTORICAL FORT MEADE > Self-Guided Driving Tour.
Fort Meade, Florida is all about history. Settled in 1849 during the Second Seminole War, Fort Meade is named after Lt. George Meade who crossed Peace River in close proximity to the present bridge on US 98 E. However, the first moniker for the fort was Fort Clinch.
FOR EXCELLENT HISTORICAL WEB SITES TO PERUSE, CLICK UNDER HISTORICAL FORT MEADE DROP-DOWN MENU.
It is the Society's desire to display not only the belongings and memories of people who settled our community but to allow visitors to walk away with a feeling they know why we are so proud of the oldest city in Polk County.
We feel we have a treasure chest of how life in "real Florida" was. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions and share insights on some of the cherished items on display.
Downstairs, visitors are immediately greeted with the vision of oranges .. artwork and old wooden packing boxes.
Then they see memorabilia of "golden school days," on to the influence of church-going people on building Fort Meade, the support and dedication of country doctors, policemen and firemen, as well as the historic significance of Native Americans. Photos and tokens from long ago depict the impact of Fort Meade's main economic staples: Citrus, cattle, and phosphate.
Upstairs is a bevy of turn-of-the-Century lifestyle from the nursery to the kitchen to the bedroom, including a patriotic display honoring area men and women of the armed services. A memoral is located in the main entry way to Fort Meade resident James Henry Mills who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in World War II and the cross-county expressway is named in his honor.
The outside of the two-story late-1800 home shows off Museum Park: A handcrafted gazebo where entertainment is staged throughout the year; and the phosphate train dedicated to the man who headed up the train project: Bufurd Brown. The train provides meeting rooms upon request. The farm shed is dedicated to Olma Hendrick and is the location of the Society's annual BBQ during the Country Fair.
But everyone agrees the museum's wrap-around porch with its rockers and swing is the crowning touch to the structure.
Admission to the museum is free and so are the memories. Donations are always appreciated.