Saturday, November 15, 2014

Indian Temple Mound Museum, Fort Walton Beach

Last Saturday after we had lunch we still had time to kill before the Scott McNeil panel at Fandom. We had seen a sign for a Native American museum close by when driving to lunch...since Kristina and I were both anthropology majors in college, we knew we had to stop and see the museum.

The grounds actually include four museums, the Indian Temple Mound Museum, the 1912 Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, the 1918 Garnier Post Office Museum, and an Civil War exhibition.

We were told by a lovely woman in the museum gift shop where to go first since we had a limited amount of time at the museum. We decided to go to the schoolhouse first (the white building pictured above). The schoolhouse served the community of Camp Walton from 1912 to 1936 with grades from first to eighth. In 1927 another room was added onto the schoolhouse to teach children from ninth to twelfth grade as children could not apply for college without graduating the twelfth grade.

The schoolhouse was made from local yellow pine and other woods. It had been destroyed at one point from a hurricane and it was restored by a local group using as much of the original wood as could be found.

The exhibitions in this schoolhouse were lovely with displays of textbooks used, toys made during the time period, and photographs of several of the classes that attended the school. The entire schoolhouse was setup as if the school was still in operation with period furniture, chalk slates, etc.

Behind the schoolhouse were two smaller buildings, one housing the Garnier post office and an Civil War exhibition. The post office was setup to resemble the original post office that operated in Camp Walton from 1918 until 1956. It houses original artifacts from the post office along with others to illustrate how it would have operated.

Kristina and I both loved the text panels throughout the room. There were several with fun facts about post delivery during the time period. Did you know that Norway used cats to deliver mail at one point? Me neither.......

Beside the post office was another building housing a Civil War exhibition featuring artifacts from the area and text material on the local history of how the war affected the city of Camp Walton.

After seeing those areas, Kristina and I walked around the Indian mound and up the stairs to see the temple structure that was reconstructed by archaeologists to resemble what it might have looked like many years ago.

We went into the museum beside the temple and were quite amazed by the exhibition inside. I've seen some Native American museums that really need work, which isn't the fault of the staff per se, but due to the lack of funding and interest by the local community surrounding it. The Fort Walton museum was beautiful. The displays were informative and quite well done. Kristina and I both agreed that it was one of best Native American museums we have been to in a while.

If you are in the area and have a moment or two to spare, please stop by and see the museums. It is a great way to spend an afternoon!

Until next time ^___^

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