Sneak Peak at New Pirate Museum | Arts & Culture
Out the outside, it looks like a generic warehouse.
Inside this as-yet-undisclosed location in St. Augustine, pirate museum props are overflowing the shelves and peeking out of boxes.
Pat Croce opened a squeaky door at the warehouse and said, "This is our secret bunker." He smiled a wry smile.
"I had to rent 6,000 feet to put all this paraphernalia and items we shipped up from Key West. Where was I going to put it? The museum's not ready for it"
Shelves are lined with trunks, real and fake swords, and rusty lanterns.
An unfinished mural of a pirate ship stretches across one wall of the warehouse.
The museum's creative director creates clouds and waves with every stroke of a paint brush.
Another man cleaned a cannon on the floor.
Croce bounced around the warehouse showing off the items inside and explaining how they will be used in his museum.
He plopped himself down in an elaborately carved chair and said, "We're going to have a pirate sitting here holding a blunderbuss with all kinds of treasure and artifacts around him!"
Croce has collected pirate artifacts throughout the years. He's chosen to move his Pirate Soul museum in Key West to St. Augustine and call it St. Augustine's Pirate and Treasure Museum. It will be similar, but, as Croce said, "It will be what was in Key West... on steroids!"
There will be more interactive components for visitors as well as a new Hollywood Pirates exhibit.
With excitement in his voice, Croce said, "We'll have stuff from 'Captain Kidd,' 'The Goonies,' and 'Hook.' I got the hook from Peter Pan! Oh yeah. It's great!"
It's not all props. There will be a large assortment of authentic artifacts on display as well.
The museum will have a real pirate treasure chest with real pirate booty.
Also, Croce landed a deal with the Florida Department of State and the Historic Resources Department to display some of their items that have been under lock and key for years.
"It's things people have never seen before! They're in the vault in the state capital. I got to see them," Croce exclaims.
He said the state is excited the items will be on display for the public to see. Croce has also created bulletproof glass exhibit cases for the artifacts.
He said snagging the goods took some phone calls and knowing "the right people."
It probably also helps if you're Pat Croce. He's a well-known author, motivational speaker, and former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The museum itself sits at 12 Castillo Drive, right across the street from the fort, or Castillo de San Marcos.
The building is still under reconstruction, buzzing with crews using saws, hammers, and drills.
A faux ship is being created inside the museum along with a tavern where pirates who stormed St. Augustine will sit and chat with each other, no doubt about the fair, old city.
Just like he did inside the warehouse, Croce races around the museum site. He points out what each nook and cranny of the museum will include.
He's hired people who worked for Disney and Universal Studios to help create the museum. It's scheduled to open in November.
Croce chuckled and said it's his little bit of Disney real-estate in St. Augustine.
The yo-ho-ho history museum is taking shape.
It will be interactive, real, and full of energy... just like Croce.