The Charlotte County Historical Society has deep roots in the Charlotte County, Florida community. In 1969, over 50 years ago, the Society was started as a private nonprofit organization, called the Youth Museum of Charlotte County. Founders School Superintendent Dr. Hugh Adams, Peggy Desguin and other supporters started the museum to address the need to expand classroom history lessons for area children. The museum had several locations over the years including a vacated fire station on East Marion Avenue in Punta Gorda, where the post office now stands. In 1975 the Youth Museum moved to a former vacant county library building at the corner of West Retta Esplanade and US 41 south, an area now a part of the event center parking lot.
In 1989, the name and focus of the museum changed to reflect the growing appeal to all ages, becoming the Museum of Charlotte County. Consequently, in June 1990 the organization’s corporate name changed to Museum Society Inc. Operations were funded by private contributions along with state and local government grants for the museum’s operations.
In 2002, the Charlotte County Board of Commissioners voted to take over the museum and the Society’s focus changed to providing financial and volunteer support for the Charlotte County Historical Center. The Historical Center was shut down and the building demolished after Hurricane Charley. Unfortunately, an over two-year effort by the Society and supporters to have the county museum reestablished fell on “deaf ears”.
However, the Society is not going away and over the years it’s main fundraisers became annual events – Florida Frontier Days, the Hibiscus Festival, and the Lobster Fest. All are highly anticipated and strongly supported by the community. This has allowed the Society to continue achieving its mission to advocate and support local history through education, initiatives, and projects in Charlotte County.
Today, the Society’s vision is to foster public awareness of Charlotte County’s rich historical heritage, encourage preservation and a broader appreciation of its historical communities. In doing so, the Society is a catalyst for cooperation and communication across the county’s historical organizations.