Nearly 100 Years of the The Sanford Herald are now digitally available on RICHESMI™!

On August 22, 1908, the Sanford Herald published its first issue. Featuring articles about the cost of purchasing and developing farm land and details of orange culture, the first issue was named the “industrial edition” as Sanford was then known as the Gate City to Florida.

News of the past is no longer limited to newspaper print as the result of a collaborative partnership between the Museum of Seminole County History, the Sanford Museum and the UCF Department of History.

Seminole County Historical Society led the initiative by raising funds to cover the costs of digitizing original newspapers and microfilm published from 1908 to 2005. Over 300 rolls of microfilm were digitized by local business partner, EZ Photo Scan. The Sanford Historical Society, Inc., also joined the effort with fundraising, making the project a true working partnership. Together, these historical societies dedicated countless hours to review completed scans, provide quality control and assure that scans were legible. Without their tireless effort, this treasure trove of newspapers would remain physically archived without digital preservation.

Final digitized images were supplied to RICHES™ to complete optical character recognition (OCR), a technology that enables the conversion of various types of documents into editable and searchable data. The OCR process ran continuously for nearly six months. Earlier newspapers were very slow to process due to print quality, but the more recent documents are processing much faster. Issues published from 1908 to 1962 are currently available digitally. As the OCR process continues, newspapers beyond 1962 will also be available through RICHES™.

You can view the current Sanford Herald 1908-1962 collection here: https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/sanford_herald/

New Collection: Oviedo Historical Society Collection

The Oviedo Historical Society Collection encompasses historical artifacts donated for digitization at the Oviedo Historical Society’s History Harvest in the Spring semester of 2015. Items in this collection were curated by UCF graduate student Porsha Dossie and include photographs, newspaper articles, maps, and artwork. Items were donated to RICHES from the private collections of Sue Blackwood, Arthur Evans, and Dane Kolb.

The Oviedo Historical Society was organized in November 1973 by a group of citizens. The society is a 501(3) non-profit organization. Its purpose is to help preserve the community identity of Oviedo by collecting and disseminating knowledge about local history, serve as a repository for documents and artifacts relating to Oviedo history, promote the preservation and marking of historic sites and buildings in the Oviedo area and foster interest in local, state, national, and world history.

Milane Theatre Collection

The Milane Theatre was built at 203 South Magnolia Avenue, the former location of the Star Theatre, an abandoned movie house. Scroggs and Ewing, architects from Georgia, prepared the plans for the Milane. The name of the new theater was derived from the combination of the Milane Amusement Company president and vice president: Frank L. Miller and Edward F. Lane, respectively. The Milane opened in July of 1923 and seated 823 patrons.

In 1933, the Milane was sold to Frank and Stella Evans, investors from Lake Mary, Florida. The new owners renamed their business the Ritz Theater and held the property until the 1990s. However, the Ritz struggled financially in the 1960s and closed in 1978 due to failure to compete with the new multiplex theaters. The building remained vacant until 1984, when it reopened as the Showtime Cantina. The Showtime Cantina closed in 1988 and remained vacant and in decay.

In the mid-1990s, Ritz Community Theater Projects, Inc. acquired the property and began rehabilitation in 1998. On May 6, 2000, the theater reopened as the Helen Stairs Theatre in honor of the citizen who led the restoration project, Helen Stairs. The following year, the location was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008, additional renovations were completed and the theater was renamed the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in honor of the Wayne Densch Charitable Trust Fund for contributing to the renovations fund.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Sanford Riverfront Collection

The Sanford Riverfront Collection consists of images depicting the history and significance of Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River to the City of Sanford, Florida. The waterways that surround Sanford have provided transportation, commerce, defense, and leisure activities for the city’s citizens and visitors since its creation in 1877.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Ice Houses of Sanford Collection

This collection features the various ice houses and ice plants that have existed in Sanford, Florida. Ice manufacturing became a prominent industry in the United States by the beginning of the twentieth century. Most ice houses consisted of two stories with the first floor used as food storage and the second floor used to store the ice. Ice houses provided blocks of ice for home ice boxes and allowed agricultural businesses to transport their fruits and vegetables in refrigerated vehicles.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Sanford Avenue Collection

Collection of digital images, documents, and other records depicting the history of Sanford Avenue, the main street in Georgetown, an African-American community in Sanford, Florida. Series descriptions are based on special topics, the majority of which students focused their metadata entries around.

Georgetown was established by the city’s founder, Henry Shelton Sanford, in the 1870s. The neighborhood spans along Sanford Avenue, with its commercial district between First Street and Fifth Street, and its historic district between Seventh Street and Tenth Street. Though originally much smaller, Georgetown spanned to its present boundaries from East Second Street to Celery Avenue and from Sanford Avenue to Mellonville Avenue. Georgetown thrived at its height from circa 1880 to 1940, particularly in agriculture and transportation.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Seminole County Public Schools Collection

Collection of digital images, documents, and other records depicting the educational history of Seminole County, Florida. Items from this collection are donated by the Student Museum and UCF Public History Center.

The Student Museum has collaborated with the University of Central Florida and established the UCF Public History Center (PHC). All of the Student Museum’s collections are presently housed at the PHC. The goal of the PHC is to promote access to history through ground-breaking research connecting local to global, provide cutting-edge hands-on educational programs for students and visitors, and to engage the community in contributing to and learning from history.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Hotel Forrest Lake Collection

Originally named after the Sanford Mayor and president of Seminole County Bank, the Forrest Lake Hotel has also been known as the Mayfair Inn and was briefly occupied by the Sanford Naval Academy.

In 1916, construction of the building began. Local architect Elton J. Moughton designed the hotel. In 1925, Hotel Forrest Lake opened and became a popular destination for tourists visiting Sanford.

By 1929, the hotel closed after the stock market crash and the downfall of Florida’s tourism and real estate boom. William E. Kirchhoff leased the building in 1934 and the hotel reopened in 1935 with the new name Mayfair Hotel. Under Kirchhoff’s ownership, the Mayfair Hotel became known as one of the finest hotels in the South.

Kirchhoff sold the hotel in 1948 to Horace Stoneham, owner of the New York Giants. Stoneham then sold the building to the Bernard McFadden Foundation, who later sold it to the New Tribes Mission. The New Tribes Mission’s goal is to reach tribes who have no access to the Gospel through translated publications and missionary work.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Georgetown Collection

Collection of digital images, documents, and other records depicting the history of Georgetown, an African-American community in Sanford, Florida. Series descriptions are based on special topics, the majority of which students focused their metadata entries around.

Georgetown was established by the city’s founder, Henry Shelton Sanford, in the 1870s. The neighborhood spans along Sanford Avenue, with its commercial district between First Street and Fifth Street, and its historic district between Seventh Street and Tenth Street. Though originally much smaller, Georgetown spanned to its present boundaries from East Second Street to Celery Avenue and from Sanford Avenue to Mellonville Avenue. Georgetown thrived at its height from circa 1880 to 1940, particularly in agriculture and transportation.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Student Museum and UCF Public History Center Collection

The Student Museum and UCF Public History Center Collection encompasses a broad range of materials and items ranging from the late 19th Century into the present. The collection includes artifacts, photographs, documents, videocassettes, and other historical records pertaining to the history of the Sanford Grammar School, the Sanford community through the years, and the history of teaching and learning within the United States from the 19th century to the 2010s.

The Student Museum has collaborated with the University of Central Florida and established the UCF Public History Center (PHC). All of the Student Museum’s collections are presently housed at the PHC. The goal of the PHC is to promote access to history through ground-breaking research connecting local to global, provide cutting-edge hands-on educational programs for students and visitors, and to engage the community in contributing to and learning from history.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Henry L. DeForest Collection

Henry L. DeForest was born February 7, 1857 in Derby, Connecticut, and knew Henry Shelton Sanford from childhood. In 1870, DeForest came to Florida seeking better health in the warmer climate. He became Sanford’s agent and helped carry out the work of establishing Sanford, Florida. He managed the contracted workers for Sanford’s groves, especially the contracted Swedes that Sanford brought over in 1871.

By the 1880s, he had married Anna M. Sperry, also from Derby, and had become an established businessman and grove owner in Sanford. He built his general store in 1887 which was the second oldest brick building in Downtown Sanford. His general store was the building where the historic September 1887 fire stopped. DeForest built other commercial buildings in Downtown. His home, known as “The Palms,” was located at 105 Aldean Drive and still stands today. Henry L. DeForest died on December 23, 1902.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Sanford Baseball Collection

Sanford entered the world of professional baseball in 1919 with the formation of the Class D Florida State League. In its inaugural season, the Celeryfeds won the first half pennant, finishing in a tie with Orlando for the best overall record. Although the league folded in 1928, it was revived in 1936, and once again included a team from Sanford called the Lookouts, which was part of the Senators family of clubs. This struggling team finally turned around when they acquired former Major League star, Dale Alexander, as manager and first baseman in 1939. In over 80 years of Florida State League history, no team has ever matched their .737 winning percentage that season. The next season, the Sanford Seminoles emerged as the city’s baseball team.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Sanford Collection

Collection of digital images, documents, and other records depicting the history of Sanford, Florida. Series descriptions are based on special topics, the majority of which students focused their metadata entries around.

The present-day Sanford area was originally inhabited by the Mayaca/Joroco natives by the time Europeans arrived. The tribe was decimated by war and disease by 1760 and was replaced by the Seminole Indians. In 1821, the United States acquired Florida from Spain and Americans began to settled in the state.

Camp Monroe was established in the mid-1830s to defend the area against Seminoles during the Seminole Wars. In 1836, the United States Army built a road (present-day Mellonville Avenue) to a location called “Camp Monroe,” during the Second Seminole War. Following an attack on February 8, 1837, the camp was renamed “Fort Mellon,” in honor of the battle’s only American casualty, Captain Charles Mellon.

The town of Mellonville was founded nearby in 1842 by Daniel Stewart. When Florida became a state three years later, Mellonville became the county seat for Orange County, which was originally a portion of Mosquito County. Citrus was the first cash crop in the area and the first fruit packing plant was constructed in 1869.

In 1870, a lawyer from Connecticut by the name of Henry Shelton Sanford purchased 12,548 acres of open land west of Mellonville. His vision was to make this new land a major port city, both railway and by water. Sitting on Lake Monroe, and the head of the St. Johns River, the City of Sanford earned the nickname of “The Gate City of South Florida.” Sanford became not only a transportation hub, but a leading citrus industry in Florida, and eventually globally.

The Great Fire of 1887 devastated the city, which also suffered from a statewide epidemic of yellow fever the following year. The citrus industry flourished until the Great Freezes of 1894 and 1895, causing planters to begin growing celery in 1896 as an alternative. Celery replaced citrus as the city’s cash crop and Sanford was nicknamed “Celery City.” In 1913, Sanford became the county seat of Seminole County, once part of Orange County. Agriculture dominated the region until Walt Disney World opened in October of 1971, effectively shifting the Central Florida economy towards tourism and residential development.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Sanford Cigar Collection

The cigar industry was first brought to Florida by Cuban immigrants in the 1830s and became one of the nation’s most important industries in the Southeast. By the last quarter of the 19th century, with Tampa serving as the cigar manufacturing center in the state. In the late 1800s, cigar factories began to appear in various other Florida cities, such as Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Cigar manufacturing first appeared in Sanford sometime between 1909 and 1912. The Florida cigar industry came to its height in the first quarter of the 20th century, but then declined during the Great Depression and World War II, due to the accumulation of labor union conflicts over the years, the mechanization of production, and changing consumer demands. The industry was revitalized during the 1950s as production soared, despite the decline of the number of workers. Following the Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s and the U.S. embargo on Cuban products in 1962, the Florida cigar industry again declined. The Cuban embargo included tobacco, thus forcing American cigar rollers to begin using Dominican tobacco.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Naval Air Station Sanford Collection

This collection contains images of Naval Air Station (NAS) Sanford from its inception in 1942 to present day. The Naval Air Station (NAS) Sanford was commissioned on November 3, 1942, as a naval aviation training facility during World War II. The Navy continued to train pilots at NAS Sanford throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

NAS Sanford was temporarily decommissioned after World War II in 1946, and then recommissioned as the Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Sanford in 1950, due to the outbreak of the Korean War and the ongoing Cold War. Soon afterward, the station was renamed NAS Sanford and redesignated as a full naval air station. On February 6, 1959, NAS Sanford was dedicated as Ramey Field in honor of Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Ramey. In 1968, due to lack of funding caused by the Vietnam War, Congress directed the closure of NAS Sanford.

he City of Sanford assumed authority over the former NAS Sanford facility the year after it closed and renamed it the Sanford Airport, which was managed by Commander J. S. “Red” Cleveland. The airport underwent various name changes over the next several decades: Sanford Regional Airport, Central Florida Regional Airport, Orlando-Sanford Regional Airport, and its current name, Orlando-Sanford International Airport. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, several Naval buildings were demolished and new buildings were constructed.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Churches of Sanford Collection

Collection of digital images, documents, and other records depicting the religious history of Sanford, Florida. Series descriptions are based on special topics, the majority of which students focused their metadata entries around.

The present-day Sanford area was originally inhabited by the Mayaca/Joroco natives by the time Europeans arrived. The tribe was decimated by war and disease by 1760 and was replaced by the Seminole Indians. In 1821, the United States acquired Florida from Spain and Americans began to settled in the state.

Camp Monroe was established in the mid-1830s to defend the area against Seminoles during the Seminole Wars. In 1836, the United States Army built a road (present-day Mellonville Avenue) to a location called “Camp Monroe,” during the Second Seminole War. Following an attack on February 8, 1837, the camp was renamed “Fort Mellon,” in honor of the battle’s only American casualty, Captain Charles Mellon.

The town of Mellonville was founded nearby in 1842 by Daniel Stewart. When Florida became a state three years later, Mellonville became the county seat for Orange County, which was originally a portion of Mosquito County. Citrus was the first cash crop in the area and the first fruit packing plant was constructed in 1869.

In 1870, a lawyer from Connecticut by the name of Henry Shelton Sanford purchased 12,548 acres of open land west of Mellonville. His vision was to make this new land a major port city, both railway and by water. Sitting on Lake Monroe, and the head of the St. Johns River, the City of Sanford earned the nickname of “The Gate City of South Florida.” Sanford became not only a transportation hub, but a leading citrus industry in Florida, and eventually globally.

The Great Fire of 1887 devastated the city, which also suffered from a statewide epidemic of yellow fever the following year. The citrus industry flourished until the Great Freezes of 1894 and 1895, causing planters to begin growing celery in 1896 as an alternative. Celery replaced citrus as the city’s cash crop and Sanford was nicknamed “Celery City.” In 1913, Sanford became the county seat of Seminole County, once part of Orange County. Agriculture dominated the region until Walt Disney World opened in October of 1971, effectively shifting the Central Florida economy towards tourism and residential development.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

General Photographic Collection

The photographs in the General Collection range in date from the late 1870s to the early 2000s. Many of the photographs within this collection contain photographs taken in and around the Sanford community and city proper. Additional photographs from outside of Sanford, taken in DeLeon Springs and the Tallahassee Children’s Museum, as well as a postcard collection of cityscapes throughout the state, are included within this collection. Important social, political, and educational figures from Sanford’s history are also displayed. Various clubs, organizations, schools, businesses, attractions, and government entities are what comprise the Student Museum’s General Photographic Collection.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.

Marie Jones Francis Collection

Collection of digital images, documents, and other records depicting the life and work of Marie Jones Francis. Francis, the “midwife of Sanford,” lived at 621 East Sixth Street in Sanford, Florida. Francis converted the house to also serve as a maternity ward, where she delivered over 40,000 babies during her 32 year career. She became a midwife in the same vein as her mother, Carrie Jones, and together they ran the Jones-Francis Maternity Hall in Georgetown. Francis left behind a successful hotel and restaurant she owned in Sarasota in 1942 to return to Sanford and become a midwife. World War II caused a shortage in doctors and nurses, so Florida’s Children’s Bureau sent Francis to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to acquire her practical nursing license in 1945. She specialized in premature babies and returned to Sanford to aid her mother at Fernald-Laughton Memorial Hospital before they opened the ward in their home. “When her health starting failing,” she recollects in a newspaper article, “I took over.”

Francis served her community in several ways. She delivered babies for both white and black families from Seminole County, primarily patrons who either preferred natural births or could not afford deliveries at a hospital. In the 1950s, it cost $70 to stay nine days where soon-to-be mothers were taken care of, including three home-cooked meals; mothers were also taught basics in infant care. Francis was assisted by her sister, Annie Walker, who did the cooking. If a mother could not afford the costs, Francis would not turn her away. “There’s a lot of charity here but I wouldn’t feel good taking money and knowing the mother can’t eat when she leaves here,” Francis mentions in a newspaper article.

The house and ward also served as a school, where Francis taught nurses the art of midwives. Nurses would come from across the state to learn how to delivery infants naturally. A heavy burden on a single working mother, Francis had three daughters, Cassandra Francis Clayton, Daphne Francis Humphrey, and Barbara Francis Torre, Clayton and Humphrey became school teachers and Torre became a purchaser at Seminole Memorial Hospital. The “Midwife of Sanford,” Marie Francis and her family contributed to Sanford’s development and well-being for the better half of the twentieth century.

To view the collection on the interactive map, click here.