ABOUT THE SEBRING HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The purpose of the Sebring Historical Society is to collect, preserve, and make accessible archival material and historical records pertaining to Sebring and Highlands County and to promote our local history through programs and presentations, exhibits, publications, and electronic media.
The history and evolution of Sebring’s pioneer families, their descendants, and their institutions makes fascinating reading.
Take for example the birth and evolution of the Heacock Insurance Group. It was founded in Sebring in 1922 by Austin Heacock, who quickly turned control of the company over to his son, Ford Heacock Sr. (pictured on the right). After a number of years, Ford Heacock Sr. passed 50 percent of the company to his son, Ford Heacock Jr., and the other 50 percent to son-in-law George Hensley.
Through the years, ownership has been passed on to other members of the family and today Ford Heacock III is the sole owner. Now he is gradually turning more and more authority over to his daughter Stacey, an executive vice president for the company, and to his brother Jason, the company’s president. Today, headquarters are in Lakeland, although the company still has a Sebring office.
Likewise, Sebring has a rich architectural history with many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, many of these buildings have been retrofitted and put to new uses. Shown here is Harder Hall, a leading resort which opened in 1927 and operated until 1982, when it was sold to investors who tried unsuccessfully to convert it to timeshares. The building was acquired in 2007 by the City and sold in 2017 to a company with plans to turn it into assisted living.
Agriculture has been the driving force of Sebring’s economy with citrus playing the most prominent role. Marvin Kahn is a local businessman who has achieved great success in this industry. Having inherited citrus groves from his father, a Jewish Lithuanian immigrant who migrated to Sebring in the 1920s, Mr. Kahn naturally gravitated to the citrus business. Besides managing thousands of groves, he runs Kahn Citrus Management, LLC, which provides grove development, caretaking, and marketing expertise to grove owners. In March 2018, he was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame (pictured right).
Collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of Sebring through documents, photos, artifacts, audio and video files, DVDs and more is what the Sebring Historical Society does. Our Archives and Historical Records Office is open six days a week for visitors who would like to browse as well as for more serious researchers who would like to investigate topics in more depth. We have notebooks on more than 100 topics, and we also have newspapers dating back to 1916.
We also have collections about individuals, like WWII pilot and hero Tommy McGuire, after whom McGuire Air Force Base is named, and about organizations like the Sebring Firemen’s Association, which was both a major social force and a political force in Sebring’s early years.
Sebring Fire Department baseball team played competitively in the 1930s Orange Belt league.
Besides visiting the Archives, you can learn about Sebring history by reading the blogs on this website, joining us on Facebook, attending our quarterly luncheon meetings where we always have speakers, coming to our in-house and community-based exhibits, and best of all, becoming a member which entitles you to receive our quarterly newsletter The Historian.
Why not visit us at the Sebring Historical Society today, so we can give you more details about what we offer you and how you can get involved.