We were very honored to sit down with Ms. Francis Oliver recently and were touched by her words about Sanford and the Goldsboro community. Her love of the city and the people shine through and were obvious as she took us on a quick tour of the The Goldsboro Welcome Center and Francis Oliver Culture Arts Exhibit and the Goldsboro Museum.

She perfectly described Sanford as a “dysfunctional family” – a family that disagrees sometimes yet loves one another unconditionally.


What do you do?
I am a retired Seminole County Teacher for ten years, I am the founder and curator of the Goldsboro Museum and Francis Oliver Culture Arts/Welcome Center. I am a member of St. Paul Mission Baptist Church and a minister at the same church.

How did you find your way to Sanford?
My mother and father brought me here at age five. My parents came from Alabama to Sanford looking for a better life than what they had in Alabama.

What were your first impressions of Sanford?
Too young to know what was going on.

What is your favorite Sanford memory?
As a child – fishing from my Dad’s boat.
As a teenager – graduating from Crooms Academy.
As an adult – opening a business in downtown 20 years ago.

Please tell us more about your work in the Goldsboro community!
I want to preserve the rich history of Goldsboro, and tell the many stories about this historical community that have not been told, and teach the children of Goldsboro their history. It’s also important to work with the homeless, the needy, and the uneducated of this community.

As Francis mentioned, she is the founder and curator of the Goldsboro Welcome Center and Francis Oliver Culture Arts Exhibit at 1216 Historic Goldsboro Blvd. Here you can learn more about Goldsboro and view art exhibits by local artists.
Open Mon – Sat, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm.
Visit the website for more information.





Francis also founded the Goldsboro Museum (located at 1211Historic Goldsboro Blvd.). She and her staff are busy preserving the important history of the Goldsboro community. So many interesting articles, artifacts, and stories are found here. Visit the Goldsboro Museum website for more information and to find out how you can arrange a visit.



What do you like best about living in Sanford?
Sanford is my family, a family with its ups and downs, and all the problems that come with a small southern town. But with my family in Sanford we can discuss our differences and still speak to each other. And just like a family, in Sanford we love each other.

What is your favorite Sanford neighborhood and why?
I have only lived in one neighborhood, so that neighborhood has to be my favorite, I am still here in Goldsboro after 67 years.

Have you ever been to Flea World?
Yes! I am not a shopper and it has been a long time since I have visited Sanford’s Flea World.

What is your favorite drink and who makes it?
My favorite drink is ice tea without sugar. Anyone can make it anywhere.

What do you wish to see in Sanford?
A convention center, a five star hotel, and Goldsboro becoming the culture arts district of Sanford.

What is your favorite Sanford event?
The 4th of July Celebration, the Martin Luther King Jr. parade and all MLK activities.

Describe a perfect weekend in Sanford.
Home with family, on the riverboat, or relaxing at the park.

What is your favorite restaurant in Sanford for lunch? Dinner?
I have only eaten at three, The Willow Tree (once), The Breezeway (once), and Shantell’s (twice). They all had good food!

What is your favorite book?
Some of my favorite books are: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dusty Tracks on a Road, and Jonah’s Gourd Vine all by Zora Neale Hurston.

Favorite movie?
Gone with the Wind


What does Sanford need?
More jobs, more class, more culture, and a better newspaper. As well as a City Commission that cares about all of Sanford.

Favorite Sanford resident – past or present?
Mrs. Lois Housholder of the Sanford Atlantic Bank. Mr. Ed Blackshare and Mrs. Thelma Franklin.

Favorite Sanford breakfast spot?

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in Sanford?
Sanford’s Fire Department running around trying to hook-up water hoses to spray a group of students trying to enter a dance at the new Civic Center in 1961.

What is Sanford’s greatest asset?
Sanford’s lakefront put some other cities to shame!

What is Sanford’s greatest “area of opportunity?”
Opening a new business.

If you were marketing Sanford, what would its tagline be?
“Vacation Everyday on Sanford’s Beautiful Shores of Lake Monroe”