In 1976 a group of Volusia County teachers with a passion for the arts; Lura Bell, Anne Johnson, Mary McClancy, Dorothy Felton, Marion Hillabold, Shirley Keppel, Dorothy Johnson and Viola Pierson founded the Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, Inc., as a not for profit organization.
At first the property known as the Central School of Barberville (c. 1919), and was leased from the Volusia County School Board, however in 2001 the School Board bestowed ownership of the property to the Board of Directors of the Settlement.
In the early years, the Board of Directors led by Lura D. Bell, struggled to fulfill their dreams of rehabilitating the badly deteriorated school and provide enriching educational programming. Public programs began in 1982, and have steadily developed into those enjoyed by thousands today. The rapid growth of the children's education program influenced the School Board's decision to place a teacher on site to coordinate the programs with mandated curriculums meeting Sunshine State Standards. Additionally, over the years, the program has adapted to meet the growing need for FCAT-based learning benchmarks.
An important transition began to occur as growing attendance created a demand for more space. The Settlement began moving local and regional historically significant buildings onto the property, and a historical "village" setting emerged. Featured structures include:
-1982: Pierson Railroad Depot - Circa 1885
-1983: Astor Bridge Tender's House - Circa 1926
-1984: Turpentine Commissary Country Store - Circa early 1900s
-1988: Turpentine Still - Circa 1924
-1989: Pottery Shed - Circa 1920s
-1992: Lewis Log Cabin - Circa 1875
-1994: Midway United Methodist Church - Circa 1890
-1996: Huntington Post Office - Circa 1885
-1997: Quarters House - Circa 1920s
-1998: The Pastime touring boat – Circa 1910
Through the years, additional workshops were built to exhibit various historical trades and life ways of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s: Print Shop, Wheelwright Shop/Carriage House, Woodwright Shop, Blacksmith Shop, and the Timucuan-Myacca and Seminole Villages.
Here at the Barberville Pioneer Settlement a dedicated program of preserving artifacts, buildings and local history is ongoing. The Settlement has been a good steward of local and regional history for thirty-eight years. Many young adults, that now have children of their own, have fond memories of visiting the Settlement during field trips when they were in elementary school. The tradition continues today as school children from all over Florida grace our hallways and pathways almost daily.
Our annual special events are also a tradition for both locals and tourists alike. The Fall Country Jamboree was also established in 1976. This is the largest and most famous of all of our events, attracting visitors from all walks of life and all over the world. Featuring folk music, a juried arts and crafts show, corn boil, sugarcane boil, living history demonstrations and much more.
The Barberville Pioneer Settlement has been preserving the pioneer spirit for nearly forty years. Living up to the Settlement’s founders aspiration, “to encourage the common man to express and experience his artistic urges and to fulfill the needs of thousands who might not otherwise be involved in the arts, and to admire the arts of their past. The warm nature of folk artists, the friendly atmosphere of the Settlement site and staff, and the non-intimidating programs should encourage youth, the elderly, minorities and the handicapped to become involved in the Settlement's many cultural heritage activities.”