The Story of the History Center
The Orange County Regional History Center’s story begins at the historic heart of the community and is entwined with the county’s series of courthouses – most of which occupied the spot next to the History Center that’s now Heritage Square park.
From Heritage Square, Orlando’s city limits were platted in 1857. Florida was wild frontier: Razorback hogs rubbed their backs against wooden courthouse steps. But as the city and county grew, a grand red-brick courthouse rose in 1892. In 1927, a neoclassical building – now the History Center’s home — was added and became the main courthouse.
By 1942, the community looked back and sought to remember a century of history through a pioneer-times display in the old red-brick courthouse. The popular exhibit grew, fueled by donations that became the foundation of the Historical Society of Central Florida’s present collection at the History Center.
When the red-brick courthouse was demolished in 1957, the Board of County Commissioners established a historical commission to carry on the work begun in 1942, leading eventually to the 1976 opening of Orange County Historical Museum in Orlando’s Loch Haven Park – precursor to the History Center.
Almost 20 years later, in 1995, Orange County debuted its current, high-rise courthouse, and a task force of community leaders unanimously recommended that the 1927 courthouse become a larger, regional history museum. The result – the Orange County Regional History Center – opened in September 2000 to critical acclaim and national awards.