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Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. Governance Information


Preserve Real Places: Tell Real Stories

Our mission is to preserve & share the heritage of Manatee County's founding period.

The Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. does this by:

  • Advocating for historic preservation and cultural tourism;
  • Preserving historic buildings and artifacts;
  • Educating the public through our programming;
  • Creating and maintaining the historical environment of the Manatee Village Historical Park; and
  • Raising community and financial support to maintain and expand these efforts.

Our History: A Unique Public-Private Partnership

In 1974, a group of women left a business meeting of their church, the Manatee United Methodist, and stood beneath the steeple of the sanctuary built in 1887. Tears welled up in their eyes as they thought about what they had just heard. The church building, along with a smaller building owned by the congregation, once Manatee County’s first courthouse, were to be torn down to make room for a new sanctuary and parking lot. That night, they vowed to do all that they could to save the two historic buildings, and the idea for the Manatee Village Historical Park was born.

The initial group, who rallied to save the two buildings, became known as the H.O.M.E. (Heritage of Manatee’s Environment) Committee. Realizing that Manatee County once had a Historical Commission, which was no longer operating, they petitioned the Board of County Commissioners to reestablish the Manatee County Historical Commission by ordinance, making the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court a perpetual member. The remaining sixteen members would be appointed by the Board of County Commission each year. They also organized the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. with its purpose to preserve Manatee County’s pioneer history for the enrichment of future generations. As both a government ordained and a non-profit organization, the Manatee County Historical Commission stood ready to take on the task of saving the 1887 Church and the 1860 Courthouse.

Both buildings were moved to the park in December of 1975. The restoration effort became part of Manatee County’s celebration of the United States bicentennial and some funding for the bicentennial effort became seed money for the establishment of the park. Most of the funding, however, came from private donors raised by Historical Commission members asking their friends, community leaders, and businesses for support. The park officially opened to the public on July 4, 1976, and over the years grew to include fourteen structures representative of pioneer life in Manatee County. The effort continues today through encouraging historical preservation as Manatee County continues to grow and develop, as well as through raising support for the maintenance of the treasured collection of buildings at Manatee Village Historical Park.

Manatee Village Historical Park also serves as headquarters for the Manatee County Historical Commission’s other educational and outreach programs. One example is the Manatee History Day, an affiliate of the National History Day competition, which at times has been the largest regional NHD competition in the nation. Other educational programs sponsored by the Historical Commission include an Annual Heritage Days Celebration in March, Old Florida Christmas, which celebrates 100 years of holiday tradition in Florida, and many talks, book signings, classes, and volunteer activities designed to educate the public about our pioneer past. At Manatee Village, staff and volunteers also conduct school tours free of charge to help enhance students’ understanding of Florida history and pioneer life.

For over thirty-five years, donations, grants, expertise and volunteers supplied by the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. and funding made available through the Clerk of Circuit Court by the Board of County Commission has allowed residents as well as visitors from around the world to experience Manatee County’s rich pioneer heritage in its various buildings and programming.

Interested in helping preserve Manatee County History? Consider serving as a member of the Manatee County Historical Commission. Download our application here.

Our meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. Meetings are typically held at noon, on the second Friday of each month, in the Wiggins Store building at Manatee Village Historical Park.

The Manatee County Historical Commission also has several standing committees, which focus on specific needs of Manatee Village Historical Park. Anyone can serve on a committee, Historical Commission membership is not required. Download our Committee Application here.

For more information about the Manatee County Historical Commission contact Phaedra Carter at or call (941) 749-7165.

Statement of Beliefs:

We believe that knowing where we come from helps us understand who we are. We are committed to:

  • Empowering our county-wide historical partners to effectively preserve the resources that keep Manatee history alive.
  • Teaching Manatee County citizens and visitors to value historic assets to help create economic opportunities and foster a sense of place.
  • Supporting a culture of creativity and excellences for our staff.
  • Serving Manatee County residents and visitors with the highest standards of professionalism, responsiveness, consistency, accountability, and ethics.
  • Promoting Manatee Village Historical Park as a premiere regional living history center.

2019 Historical Commission Members

  • John Stephens, Chairman
  • Matt Woodside, Vice Chairperson 
  • Andrea Knies, Secretary
  • Jeff Downing, Treasurer
  • G.W. "Bill" Howard
  • Lori Melton
  • Rob Moran
  • Marcia O'Brien
  • Angelina M. "Angel" Colonneso, Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller

Village Hours:

Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm
2nd & 4th Saturdays, 9:00am – 4:00pm

Closures: Mon-Wed September 16-18; Wednesday, October 9

Upcoming Saturday openings: September 14, September 28, October 12, October 26

Phone: (941) 749-7165

E-mail addresses are public records under Florida law and are not exempt from public-records requirements. If you do not want your e-mail address to be subject to being released pursuant to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact by phone at the phone numbers above, or contact us in writing, via the United States Postal Service, at this address- Manatee County Historical Commission 1404 Manatee Ave. E, Bradenton, Fl 34208.


1404 Manatee Avenue East 
(SR 64)
Bradenton, FL. 34208



Village Hours

Monday – Friday and 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month

9:00am – 4:00pm

Closed holidays and their corresponding weekends.