Historic buildings moving to Babb Landing
By Ken Jackson
Anyone on westbound Neptune Road or on U.S. Highway 192 from downtown Kissimmee to Old Vineland Road late Tuesday morning after rush hour, may have been caught in a different kind of traffic.
The hut from a cattle ranch ambled across town — with an entourage, of course.
A worker’s house was transported intact from its former home at Partin Ranch Tuesday and taken around downtown Kissimmee and down U.S. Highway 192.
The Osceola County Historical Society began work this week to create its new Pioneer Village interactive attraction at Shingle Creek Regional Park. A worker’s house was transported intact from its former home at Partin Ranch Tuesday and taken around downtown Kissimmee and down U.S. 192. The building will be one of the centerpieces of a new eight-building living history exhibit addition to the history experience at Babb Landing.
A barn located near the worker’s house was taken apart and will be reconstructed at the new site, in addition to a ranch house that will be moved later this month from Narcoossee to the Shingle Creek park.
Other structures will be moved from the county’s current home for Pioneer Village on Bass Road across U.S. 192 to the new location this summer, putting all of the Historical Society’s museum pieces either at the park or the Osceola County Historical Museum. The two eventually will be directly connected to the Osceola County Historical Museum by canoes on Shingle Creek or a bike/walking path along the waterway.
The Bass Road site still will be home to research and artifact storage of more than 10,000 items, and will be renovated to double its size. The screened pavilion also will remain so that residents can rent it for outdoor family gatherings.
The relocation of the Partin Ranch structures marks the first steps in the expansion of Pioneer Village, which will include the addition of eight historic structures to the interactive history experience at Babb’s Landing. Eventually the park will include a pioneer building from the 1900s as a welcome center, a train depot, school house, church, saw mill, cow camp and Seminole Indian village.
Osceola County earmarked $1.4 million of Tourist Development Tax funds in December to consolidate all the historical buildings into one interactive “history campus” to show off its heritage within hiking or biking distance from the county’s Welcome Center and History Museum, which opened in the fall of 2012.
During Tuesday’s move, Osceola County Historical Society Executive Director Donita Dampier was a member of the moving party.
“It was so cool seeing it lifted up,” she said. “We were going to do it at sunrise but we were told the traffic wouldn’t be as bad around 10 a.m. This is the first one to move, so we’re excited.”, Dampier said.
The TDT contribution from the county covers the costs to move existing buildings. Current fundraising is under pay to build all the new structures, which will cost around $750,000 to complete. The county also is seeking proposals for a company to maintain and operate a canoe rental facility on Shingle Creek.
“It is invaluable as we continue our initiative to preserve Osceola County’s rich history,” she said. “Each dollar supports our mission to educate tourists and residents and offer them an authentic experience about how our region has evolved.
“When it’s complete, people can park at the Welcome Center, then walk or ride a bike to the museum at Babb Landing, then rent a canoe on the creek,” she said. “This project offers a great opportunity to experience all that unique history.”
The expansion project is a collaborative effort of the Historical Society, Osceola County, city of Kissimmee, South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Communities Trust. More information is available at the society’s website at www.osceola