A Place Where Plant City Residents Can Travel Back in Time

By Aldo Puccini

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center has become a place for Plant City residents to connect with their town’s past. The center, which is located in the town’s downtown area, takes pride in providing its visitors with a collection of photos that go back decades.

“They come in for all different reasons,” said Gil Gott, the center’s executive director. “Sometimes they’re just shopping around, but other times they’ll say I think I remember my mother talking about a store downtown that we used to go. What does it look like now?”

The archives and history center’s collection of photos doesn’t just focus on Plant City but also on communities within the Central West Florida region. The responsibility of preserving the community’s history and heritage may seem like a difficult task, but Gott doesn’t see it that way.

“We love the history of the community and we love the fact that people seek information,” said Gott. “This is what public history is all about.”

A trip inside the archives center is also a good reminder of the importance of the preservation of historic photographs and documents. In the digital era that the world finds itself in, it’s easy to lose sight of that.

“Too many places throw away documents and throw away photographs because they think they aren’t relevant,” said Gott.

Photographs and documents can act as pieces to a larger puzzle. What people fail to realize at times is that an old photo or document can be of importance to an event or moment in time.

As important as it is to preserve history, it is equally as important to make history accessible to people. Through its accessibility, the photo archives and history center has been able to form a deep connection with its community. Oftentimes when Gott is out in public, residents will approach him with questions.

“We find them a photo and then they get the memories,” said Gott.

As the old adage goes, a photo is worth a thousand words. If that’s the case, then the number of words that can be said about the photo archives and history center’s collection is too large to count.

“Every photo tells a story and we enjoy sharing the stories with the people,” said Gott.

The Plant City Photo Archives and History Center is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on the weekends.