It's an epic adventure story with pirates and romance, bootleggers and greed, visionaries and heroes. It's hard to believe that beautiful and serene Anna Maria Island could be the site of so much larger-than-life Florida history, but it's a true story, and there's a museum to prove it. In fact, the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum tells the story of Anna Maria Island in a remarkable, hands-on way that you'll never forget. Old maps, vintage photos, public records, news clippings, jewelry, clothing, and even restaurant menus from the island's earliest 20th-century settlers point to a now-lost era when life's pace was slower and unbridled optimism was king.
The Anna Maria Island Historical Society (AMIHS) was incorporated in 1991 to collect and preserve items and artifacts related to Anna Maria Island's history and to pass on this fascinating legacy. In 1992, the City of Anna Maria donated the Pine Avenue building that now houses the Museum. Volunteers staff the facility, function as docents, and help produce the annual AMIHS Heritage Day Festival.
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In 2006, the Museum also became the new home of Sarasota's Historic Belle Haven Cottage, which graced the end of the City Pier in the 1920s. For 50 years the building then sat at 109 Palmetto Avenue. It was offered to AMIHS, and after raising over $8,000 from donors and the island's 3 city governments, the cottage was moved to its current site in 2001 and painstakingly restored in 2006.
The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum is the one must-see site on Anna Maria Island. It's located at 402 Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., October through April, and Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., May to September. Admission is to the Museum is free, but the Historical Society is grateful for donations. Small children are welcome but should be supervised. The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum is completely handicapped-accessible; sorry, no pets are allowed except for service companion animals.
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