Explore the history of St. Pete Beach at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum


ST. PETE BEACH, Florida – Unlike many parts of Tampa Bay, the St. Pete Beach area didn’t really start to explode until the 1920s.

Fun fact: St. Pete Beach was originally called Long Key.

Living in the area was difficult – storms, mosquitoes and the lack of weather conditions made it difficult.

The Gulf Beaches Historical Museum is located on St. Pete’s Beach and will take you back in time through history, including introducing you to the man who first lived here, Zephaniah Phillips.

The region’s major link with American history is actually World War II. The war brought about a major change on St. Pete’s Beach.

“During World War II, many luxury hotels in the area, including the Don Cesar, were converted into barracks for soldiers,” said Catherine Wilkins with the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum noted. “The Don then became a military hospital for veterans returning from WWII once the United States got involved. Because so many veterans came to this area to train or rehabilitate during the war, they got to see all of Florida’s natural beauty. ”

The land was also cheap.

“In the 1950s, the population of St. Pete Beach grew by 600% in just a decade. So before that there were less than 1,000 people living in St. Pete Beach, and in 1960 there were over 6,000, ”Wilkins said. .

“That’s when my family moved to St. Pete Beach, my grandparents on both sides moved here in the 1950s. Both of my grandfathers were WWII veterans and were interested in coming here after the war is over, ”Wilkins explained. “But it also really became a residential hub for the people who lived in that area, some of whom worked in Tampa and St. Pete and just wanted to get away from the beaches when they came home from work at night. But for all of our history. , tourism and fishing have been in a way the pillars of our community, both for visitors and for residents. ”

The museum also introduces you to the unique history of Pass-a-Grille.

Wilkins said: “I would say Pass-a-Grille is unique to other communities along the Gulf beaches because of its long history as it was established in 1886. We have a lot of historic architecture in this part of the community of St. Pete Beach And even as you walk through Pass-a-Grille, you feel like you are connected to history because it is so visible around you. And you can tell the structures are different from others you might encounter in seaside communities. “

The Gulf Beaches Historical Museum is open Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm Admission is free.

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Patrick F. Williams