The Anna Maria Island Museum is located in the heart of Anna Maria at 402 Pine Avenue in the Historic City Park; it was founded by and is operated by the Anna Maria Island Historical Society (1990).
The museum houses the definitive history of this beautiful island; from homesteaders to fish tales; each charming story is told here. Accompanied by over 120 years of photos and documents, as well as artifacts donated by Islanders, it is a true trip into the past told in a beautiful setting. Children enjoy the scavenger created to let them enjoy the museum through its very fun and unique artifacts and there is a prize at the end. Admission to the museum and park is free.
The museum also houses the bound volumes of the island’s first newspaper, which were saved by the co-founders Pat Copeland and Carolyne Norwood. Visitors can purchase books by Carolyne Norwood chronicling the history of the island; Early Days and Tales of Three Cities, both provide insight into the personal stories, characters and the rich history that shaped this island.
The Historical Park includes the original City Jail, built in 1920, to house the rowdies from the local roadhouse so they could “sleep it off”. There were no windows in the jail so after spending a night with the mosquitos buzzing and biting return trips were rare. A family photo in the jail is a must for island visitors.
Visitors can tour Belle Haven Cottage, which sits amid the native gardens in the park along the shore of Lake LaVista. This cottage once sat on the city pier and operated as a tourist cottage. It fell into Tampa Bay and was rescued then went on to become a family home for over 70 years. Belle Haven was rescued from demolition in 2000 by AMIHS and the City, it now provides a peek into life in the early days.
The museum offers a self-guided Historic Walking/Biking Tour brochure for the City of Anna Maria, visitors can follow the trail at their own pace and experience the architecture and history of the island’s first city.
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