The Palm Harbor Historical Society incorporated on January 22, 1983, the result of decades of work and planning by many Palm Harbor residents, some who were born here along with others who embraced Palm Harbor as their own after moving here from elsewhere. These citizens had, after watching the rapid economic and social change all around them, concluded that the Palm Harbor area had a rich history that should be preserved, shared and revealed for the benefit of current and future residents and visitors. These founders of our society firmly believed in the old Platonic theory that “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you've been.”
This group of citizens began collecting everything from the past that they could lay their hands on. These items, including pictures, artifacts, furnishings, journals, records and genealogies, were stored, and sometimes displayed, at various locations in Palm Harbor as residents and businesses donated space for the collection.
In 1996, the historic Hartley House (built 1914-1919 with concrete block construction made on site) was acquired by Pinellas County and by happy agreement was given into the care of the Palm Harbor Historical Society. The house was rehabilitated and on November 7, 1998, was opened as a museum, now called the Palm Harbor Museum.
Heritage Village is our county liaison, but our Palm Harbor Historical Society is required by agreement to maintain the house and grounds. Our museum is entirely dependent upon our society membership for upkeep as we receive no funding through any governmental channels. The restored Hartley House now provides a permanent home for the collection of the Palm Harbor Museum, the ongoing result of an active effort by many caring residents of Palm Harbor.