By Ken Jackson
Showing off the work created by a $500,000 state grant that included local matching funds, the Osceola County Historical Society hosted the grand opening and ribbon cutting of its new 1800s replica historic church at Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek.
The church, which can hold about 50 attendees and will be fully functional — it’s hosting its first
wedding on July 3 — joins the other eight authentically restored or replica buildings at the Babb Road park.
Mary Cooper, the Historical Society’s board treasurer and a member of its expansion committee, said the church was built as authentic as it could have been, with some nods to the present — society had to check with the Federal Aviation Authority on how high the steeple could be built, thanks to air traffic at nearby Kissimmee Gateway Airport.
“We wanted to make it as original as we could, so lots of research went into it here,” she said. “When people see it they’ll want to come back and use it, which is what we want.”
The replica church is based on St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, built in 1889 by Lt. Col. William Cadman and his congregation, which formed in 1886.
“There are churches this old in use around here, but they didn’t want to give them to us, who knew?” Cooper asked with a smirk. “Once we got the grant money, we had no idea it’d take off like it did.”
The $500,000 Cultural Facility Grant was funded through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affair, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture and the State, and helped fund the construction and furnishing of the church, and previously a train depot and schoolhouse.
“With the help of the state of Florida, the Osceola County Historical Society Board of Directors, Volunteers, and staff have worked tremendously hard over the past two years to create a historically authentic experience for our Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek Visitors Center,” Osceola County Historical Society Executive Director Donnita Dampier said. “We are extremely excited to share the newly opened 1800s Schoolhouse, Train Depot and Church replica buildings with our community visitors and residents.”
Cooper said the next bit of business would be finding the funding for the next Pioneer Village project, building a replica
The Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek also features a pavilion available for rental. Information for renting the village space for events can be found online at http://osceolahistory.org/1800s-historic-church/.