Do you know how many German POW camps were in Florida in 1945? Both Terry and I were surprised to find out that there were 26 prisoner of war camps in the state with 10,000 German soldiers. And how did we discover this interesting fact? By visiting the rotating exhibit at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum in Inverness on a recent chilly but sunny morning.
Terry and I were checking out a local event that turned out to be a bust. Arrrrrgggh! Since we were already out in our shiny car, we zipped over to Inverness to see what we could see and ended up at the old courthouse.
Probably everyone that’s lived on the Nature Coast for any length of time knows that in 1961 Elvis Presley filmed “Follow that Dream” in the area. There’s even a street in Inglis named after the movie and the courthouse scene was filmed at the original courthouse in Inverness.
Along with checking out the Elvis memorabilia, we visited four galleries in the courthouse. In the Gallery of Pre-History we were entertained by a talking Native American mannequin that was accompanied by a film. He was quite red–even his toenails. He admonished us for destroying his land and wiping his people out. But then ended his show on a happy note since the state is now making progress in restoration.
A second gallery gives the history of the local area from the 1800s to the present.
We found the third gallery to be the most interesting with their current rotating exhibit, Humanity Beyond the Barbed Wire: Hitler’s Soldiers in the Sunshine State which is on loan from the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg through March. Guess I never thought about where the US sent POWs. Which also made me think about the heat, humidity, bugs, and disease that they must have had to deal with in 1945. But an older gentleman that was also visiting this gallery advised me that he wished he had been in Florida during the war rather than having the Germans dropping bombs on his head every night. Good point.
The museum store is the fourth gallery and carried many books about the Nature Coast and Florida.
The courthouse was beautifully restored in 2000 and is right in the middle of downtown Inverness. Besides the courthouse, there are several restaurants and shops plus the Withlacoochee State Trail is right around the corner. If you’re in Inverness for a meeting or just for fun, stop by the The Old Courthouse Heritage Museum and check out their collections.