Day trip from Tampa: Chinsegut Hill historic site reopens to public

Hernando County’s Chinsegut Hill Historic Site will reopen to the public Saturday, August 1, the result of a partnership between the Tampa Bay History Center and the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners.

Guided tours of the historic house museum will be available on Saturdays and Sundays every half hour from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission for all guests is $5, and the last tour each day is at 4 p.m. The house museum will be available by appointment for group tours of 8 or more.

In January of 2020, the Tampa Bay History Center entered into a unique partnership with Hernando County to provide curatorial and interpretive services for Chinsegut Hill, one of Florida’s few remaining pre-Civil War plantation sites. 

Located on one of the highest points in the state of Florida, Chinsegut Hill has been witness to the gatherings of Florida’s early people dating back thousands of years, to pioneers settling at the time of the Second Seminole War, and to the emancipation of enslaved people following the Civil War. During the 1920s, new owners of the home hosted such luminaries as Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and others.

Over the spring and summer, History Center staff was hard at work researching the history of the site, meticulously cataloging artifacts, designing new interpretive signage for the property, and training docents and guides to offer tours of the historic house and grounds.

“Chinsegut Hill offers a varied cross-section of Florida’s history,” says C.J. Roberts, the Tampa Bay History Center’s President and CEO. “People can tour both the house museum and the grounds, and they’ll find many different stories and perspectives, from Seminole culture to Progressive Era politics, the Civil War to the Great Depression.”

A Smithsonian Affiliate and an American Alliance of Museums-accredited institution, the Tampa Bay History Center focuses on “Historic Hillsborough” County, which in the mid-19th century comprised much of the Gulf Coast, including all or part of 24 present-day counties, from near Ocala to Lake Okeechobee.

“We are excited to help tell the story of Chinsegut Hill and ensure that this important historic site is open and accessible to the people of Hernando County and all of Florida’s residents and visitors,” says Roberts.

“The Tampa Bay History Center’s ability to tell the stories of this historic and beloved Hernando County landmark is something we are most excited about,” says Hernando County Administrator Jeff Rogers. “The expertise and available resources they can provide will help propel Chinsegut Hill into a positive and healthy future.” 

Advance tickets are available for purchase online.

Note: Due to the continuing spread of COVID-19 and for the safety of the staff, volunteers, and fellow visitors, face masks will be required when touring the house museum.

For more information, visit the History Center's website or call 352-770-2188.

Manny Leto is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Tampa Bay History Center.
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