Sunken Gardens Opens New History Center

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In keeping with its historic legacy, Sunken Gardens has developed a History Center in the original 1940 entrance and gift shop, a building that until recently held the Garden’s tropical birds at night. The birds now have new nighttime accommodations, and the building has been restored with the history exhibits opening to the public on October 22, 2022.

Experience the golden years of kitschy fun, majestic tropical foliage, celebrity visits, bathing beauties, and exotic animals in this exciting new exhibit space. After three generations of Turner Family ownership and over 100 years, Sunken Gardens continues to bring smiles of amazement to all who enter one of the first and last original Florida roadside attractions.

The new History Center will showcase Sunken Gardens’ history and its important role in developing Florida’s tourism industry during the era of Old Florida roadside attractions. Never-before seen photos, documents, and footage of the Gardens during its heyday of 250,000 visitors a year will be showcased within a media wall and exhibit panels. The totality of these elements presents a uniquely Florida tale of a family’s innovation, fortitude through trying times, and Sunken Gardens as a source of community pride saved from development by St. Petersburg’s citizens, many of whom remember road-trip vacations from across the U.S. to visit Sunken Gardens as children with their families.

Choose to watch videos on myriad topics, including home movies and oral histories by Turner family members and others who played significant roles in the development and preservation of the Gardens. Kids of all ages can use the hands-on, interactive flip pieces and encounter age-appropriate content on our Kids Panels which incorporate illustrations from our children’s book, Sophie and Zack at Sunken Gardens, created and funded by the Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation.

Funds for the 1940s-era entrance restoration, historical exhibits, surrounding plaza seating and orchid arbor came from Florida’s Division of Historical Resources, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, Penny for Pinellas, and the Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation

More about current day Sunken Gardens at