Author: Joseph Gentili
Highlands County commemorated its 100th anniversary on Friday, April 23rd, 2021 with a Centennial Day celebration outside the Highlands County Government Center in downtown Sebring. Nine booths were arrayed representing entities that have played a part in the County’s history, and Archbold Biological Station was honored to be included as one of the nine.
Nearly 100 residents and visitors came to see the various displays. Archbold Librarian Joseph Gentili attended the Archbold booth for the event accompanied by Facilities Coordinator Laura Mitchell. Gentili stated, “The 100th anniversary celebration was a great chance to interact with community members and other organizations. Archbold’s booth contained three large displays which provide snapshots of the Station’s organizational history. One display featured the period of 1929-1941 when the Archbold grounds were known as the Red Hill Estate, the second discussed Richard Archbold’s life in Highlands County from 1941 until his death in 1976, and the final display highlighted the Archbold Family and in particular their history of philanthropy. As a decades-long member of the Highlands County community, it is always a privilege to share our story with the public.” Community members were encouraged to learn about Archbold’s rich history through viewing the displays and asking follow-up questions.
Archbold Biological Station has been a part of the Highlands County community dating back to John and Margaret Roebling’s original purchase of 1,050 acres of land near Hicoria in 1929. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the original Roebling buildings form the heart of the Archbold Biological Station campus. The Roeblings were generous members of the community and instrumental in the founding of Highlands Hammock State Park. They also helped with the purchases of multiple fire engines for the use in towns and cities in the County during the 1930’s. Richard Archbold continued this philanthropic legacy and contributed to the history of the county in numerous ways, perhaps most importantly by helping to found the Glades Electric Cooperative in 1947 and by serving as Glades Electric Board President or Vice President until his death. A long legacy of community engagement exists at Archbold and that tradition is proudly continued today with K-12 programs, summer camps and innumerable tours, talks and visits for the public.
Gentili, who serves as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission for Highlands County, noted, “A celebration like this one is a unique opportunity to look backwards on our collective past, while planning for what we all hope will be a brighter future. Archbold has been intricately linked with Highlands County for nearly all the last 100 years and enthusiastically anticipates being part of the county’s foreseeable future. It was my privilege to participate in this event while representing Archbold.”