White Springs, Florida: Stephen Foster Museum

Tiny animated dioramas depict scenes from his best-known songs, including "Camptown Races" and "I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair." Doo-dah!
11016 Lillian Saunders Drive, White Springs, FL
US Hwy 41 into town, then west on Lillian Saunders Drive.
8 am to sunset. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Camptown Races diorama.

Stephen Foster Museum

The spacious museum is in the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. The dioramas are the stars of the show, with the attention to detail and the moving pieces. Camptown Races is the one included.

[John Francis, 06/25/2016]
Stephen Foster Museum & Folk Culture Center State Park - Vague Recollections

There is an 850-acre state park (camping, canoeing, etc) in North Florida right on the Suwanee River called the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center and State Park - My brother, mother & I visited the Stephen Foster Museum back in the late 1960s and I remember being awe-struck by the museum's tiny animated dioramas depicting scenes from Foster's best-known songs ("Camptown Races," "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair") plus Foster's piano with mother-of-pearl keys... It appears that these are still on display!

I also remember my brother and I wandering off to explore two nearby abandoned boarded-up hotels - one was called the Magnolia, the other one was built out over the Suwanee River itself, apparently so the people who stayed there in the early 1900s could leap off the second and third floors and swim in the black "therapeutic" waters of the Suwanee (Um, no thanks!) These may have been demolished, but who knows? Time has been known to stand still in Northern Florida...

[Tara Buckley, 05/12/2002]

Most folks are surprised to learn that Foster never lived, or even visited, Florida, or the Suwanee River. He was a Yankee who wrote most of his songs while living in Pennsylvania. The museum was the idea of Josiah Lilly, a Midwestern drug company millionaire.

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September 19, 2020

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