Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Roadside Attraction

A couple years after I got out of college I had moved back to Tallahassee, Florida and got a job that required me to travel to Pensacola, Florida about once a month. On one of those trips I stopped at the T.T. Wentworth Museum in Pensacola. At the time I didn't know there was any family connection.

I've since learned that T.T. Wentworth's grandfather was James Hamilton Wentworth who lived in Taylor County Florida and married my gg aunt Elizabeth Green in 1883.
TT Wentworth Museum in the 1970s
Theodore Thomas Wentworth Jr. was born in 1898 and died in 1989. I don't know if he was there the day I visited. He could have been since he kept shop up until he died.

Tom's father started the roadside attraction in 1907 on Santa Rosa Island but the son was the one that filled it up with things he had acquired. It was a typical Florida tourist stop.

TT Wentworth

Wentworth found many civil war artifacts and dinosaur bones in the area himself and displayed them with what the museum web page describes as a collection of "shrunken heads, moldy birthday cake, petrified cats, and Robert Wadlow's left shoe." Yes, everything a Florida tourist would want to see on a rainy day when they couldn't go to the beach.

Robert Wadlow's right shoe located at Snyder Shoes
If you haven't been there you might not know that Wadlow (1918-1940) at 8 feet 11 and a half inches was the tallest man ever recorded. So having his size 37 1/2 left shoe was a big deal. His right shoe is on display at a shoe store in  Manistee, Michigan.

Before he died Wentworth convinced the State of Florida to accept his collection upon his death and move it to the old Pensacola City Hall where they were creating a museum. Since his collection was originally the main attraction it is called The T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum.

One of his great nieces who I got to know doing family research, Karen Wentworth Penton, along with a couple of her relatives just wrote a book "T. T. Wentworth Jr. Museum 55th Anniversary."

For now you can only buy it in Pensacola but hopefully it will be available online soon.

No comments: