SEBRING HISTORICAL SOCIETY HISTORY
The Sebring Historical Society will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2018!
Downtown Sebring Morning by Linda Kegley
Initial interest in forming a historical society began in 1962 as Sebring High School graduates were reminiscing at the end of their alumni reunion. Formal organizational meetings followed. Included in the discussions were pioneers Floyd Schumacher, Ford Heacock and Allen Altvater.
By July 1967, a Board of Directors had been formed and the first officers had been elected. Ray Graddy, who later became Sebring’s Postmaster, was the first president. He, as well as other presidents who succeeded him, are shown in the photo below.
Dedicated SHS past presidents are (from l. to r.) Ray Graddy, Jack Ingle, Joanne McAfee, Spizz Pollard, and Linda Duncan in this 1977 photo.
The State of Florida issued Articles of Incorporation on August 7, 1968. In April 1969, Sebring historian Allen Altvater authored and published the first newsletter, The Bulletin. He continued as Editor and Publisher through 1986.
Early on, members recognized the need for a historical records office. In 1973, the Archives opened in three rooms in the basement of the Sebring police station and in 1976, a committee was formed to collect memorabilia and to promote the Archives. Unfortunately, there was no climate control in the building, and the basement was subject to flooding.
In 1988, SHS member Woodrow Harshman gave a gift of $85,000 to the Sebring Historical Society. The SHS worked out an arrangement with the Sebring Public Library, whereby the Library agreed to use the money to build a 1,700 square foot Archives as part of its new library addition. In 1991, the Archives was moved to the Sebring Public Library.
Quarterly luncheon meetings with speakers have been held at the Sebring Civic Center since 1991. In 1992, the name of The Bulletin newsletter was changed to The Historian.
In 2003, Director of Archives Carol Goad and volunteers began to organize many of the historical records into notebooks which were put on display in the front room. By 2015, over 100 topics had been organized and cataloged into notebooks.
Ensuing years have brought additional changes. A new Director of Archives Ingrid Utech was hired in the fall of 2016. In 2017, a new Board of Directors was elected with new ideas and new challenges. The Sebring Historical Society continues to evolve after 50 years of continuous existence. Look for us to celebrate those first 50 years with a special event later this year.
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Allen Altvater’s Legacy
No history of the Sebring Historical Society could be complete without paying tribute to the extraordinary accomplishments of Allen Altvater, Sr., the town historian and all around citizen par excellence. Mr. Altvater was involved in establishing just about every major institution in Sebring throughout his long, productive life. He also wrote and edited numerous publications which document the social, political, and economic history of Sebring. He died at the age of 96 in 1994.