History of Cedar Key Museum

Whitman House

Cedar Key Museum State Park is fortunate to have collections donated by a man as interesting as the treasures he coveted, St. Clair Whitman.

St. Clair Whitman moved to Cedar Key as a boy in the late 1800s and during his life was involved with two of Cedar Key's major industries, the cedar pencil mill and the fiber factory. He was well known for his extensive personal collections of seashells and Native American artifacts that he displayed to the general public and tourists in the front room of his home. Mr. Whitman and his collections were featured in National Geographic magazine in 1955.

St Clair Whitman showing his collection featured in National Geographic
National Geographic magazine feature in 1955

When Mr. Whitman died in 1959, he donated his collections to the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History with the intention that they would be displayed in a museum in Cedar Key. 

The St. Clair Whitman Museum opened its doors in 1962 and a plaque commemorating the dedication can be viewed in the museum's entrance hall in between exhibits that highlight Whitman's life.

The museum's name was later changed to the Cedar Key Museum State Park, and in 1991 his family donated Mr. Whitman’s home, which was the first museum in Cedar Key. 

The house, originally built in 1880, has been restored and is now open to the public so that they may get a glimpse of what life was like in 1920s Cedar Key.

View of the dining room of the whitman house
Heart pine floors, beadboard ceilings and original furnishings