Reader Mike Jetzer pointed me to these photos he recently found of Kennedy Space Center's visitor facility in the early days.
This photo was posted on the Facebook page of the Retro Space Images web site run by J.L. Pickering. The image is undated, but my guess is it was taken in 1965 after the Tourist Information Center opened on the west side of the Indian River. The original facility was simply a trailer; in this photo, we don't see anything behind the Redstone and the bulletin board.
This next photo comes from the Kennedy Space Center images archive. According to the page, it's dated July 22, 1966. It shows the interim Visitor Information Center, now operational, but still on the west side of the Indian River. Note the guard shack in the middle of NASA Causeway.
This final image shows the permanent Visitor Information Center, which opened in August 1967. The image is also from the KSC images archive, and is dated March 11, 1969. It provides a marvelous detailed overview of the VIC as it looked when completed.
Contrast that with this May 5, 2013 image just posted to the KSC Media Gallery:
If you read through the comments posted on TripAdvisor.com about today's KSCVC, a common complaint is that it's more expensive than what people remember from their childhood. But those were the days when the operation was partially subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Under federal law, today's KSCVC must sustain itself. The complex is much larger than it was in 1969, with many new exhibits including the upcoming Space Shuttle Atlantis which cost $100 million to build. Artifacts that were new in 1969 are almost fifty years old now; the items in the Rocket Garden were not designed to be on display out in the corrosive Florida weather for a half-century.
The VIC has come a long way since 1965. There's still room to grow.