The History Museum launches a call to complete the collections and the research center

Hardman building needs insulation, drywall to control humidity and protect collections

Fearing damage from Florida’s summer temperatures and humidity, the Lake Wales History Museum is reaching out to supporters and potential donors to raise money to improve the 1916 railroad depot that houses several thousand important documents and historical artifacts in the non-profit facility. .

According to Anderson Hanna, the museum’s acting director, Seaboard Airline’s Historic Railroad Depot is “an optimal location” to house what he describes as “an unparalleled collection of Lake Wales and Polk County materials” related to the origins and to the history of the region. However, he points out that the building needs to be upgraded to “meet current and best standards for the preservation of the artifacts currently housed” in the building.

The Mimi Hardman Collections and Research Center is named after the museum’s late founder, who sought the donation of the former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot for this purpose. This distinctive historic pink building was established as a museum in the United States Bicentennial year of 1976. Other buildings that are now part of the museum complex were moved to the site, including the 1916 SAL Depot and the Crystal Lodge, which once housed the Lake Wales Woman’s. Club and the city’s first library.

Robert Connors

The fully restored 1923 railroad caboose offers a glimpse into the lifestyle and working conditions of the early railroad workers who paved the Ridge area before the development of paved roads. The restoration work was a gift from the former Lake Wales Museum Association, now Lake Wales Heritage.

The museum has benefited from other community supports, including the complete restoration of the 1923 caboose. This work was carried out by the Lake Wales Museum Association, now Lake Wales Heritage, at a material cost of over $10,000 thanks to volunteer labor.

The exterior and foundation of the Hardman Building have also undergone extensive repairs in recent years, bringing it back into service after years of slow decline. It is hoped that the latest disc will provide the necessary funds to complete the full restoration.

“We need the help of the community to make this project a reality,” Hanna said.

Donations to support the work can be mailed to the Lake Wales History Museum, 325 South Scenic Highway, Lake Wales, 33853, or online at

“Any amount will help, and we appreciate your support,” Hanna added.