|Table of Contents|
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A Social History of the Pinellas
Peninsula as Revealed through
the Structures at Herita e Village
James Anthony Schnur
2004 Heritage Village/The Pinellas County Historical Museum
and the Florida Humanities Council
Published by the Author
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations iv
Heritage Village Overview 1
Brief Introduction 10
Brief Introduction 31
Harris School Replica
Brief Introduction 45
Brief Introduction 58
Lowe House and Barn
Brief Introduction 70
McMullen-Coachman Log House
Brief Introduction 102
Daniel McMullen House
Brief Introduction 153
George Washington Moore House
Brief Introduction 187
Brief Introduction 207
Safety Harbor Church
Brief Introduction 229
Safford Memorial Pavilion
Brief Introduction 246
House of Seven Gables
Brief Introduction 264
Sulphur Springs Depot and Caboose
Brief Introduction 292
Union Academy School
Brief Introduction 315
Brief Introduction 338
Williams Park Bandstand Replica
Brief Introduction 360
Research and writing often occur as solitary exercises in libraries, at microfilm machines,
or on computers. However, I am indebted to many colleagues throughout Pinellas
County and the Tampa Bay region who offered their assistance and guidance during all
phases of this substantial project.
Leaders at the Florida Humanities Council, most notably Fran Cary and Susan
Lockwood, worked closely with the humanities scholars and Heritage Village project
managers throughout all phases of the grant.
The administration and professional staff at Heritage Village provided oversight,
guidance, and support. Jan Luth, Director of Heritage Village, exuded energy and
adroitly managed a project that produced an amazing amount of research. Ellen Babb,
longtime friend and Historian at Heritage Village, assisted with oral history interviews
and located an impressive number of important sources that kept me on track. Alicia
Addeo combed through volumes of meeting minutes of the Pinellas County Historical
Commission, searching for any mention of the structures at Heritage Village. Tracy
Spikes worked with me as I developed brief summaries of the structures that
transformed academic babble into public history prose.
Many volunteers assisted me with research. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to J. B.
Dobkin and Joyce Pickering, librarians and historians who gave countless hours of
assistance in uncovering archival treasures, deciphering genealogical connections, and
helping me separate fact from fantasy. Scholars of Florida History at the University of
South Florida assured that iy research addressed broader social, political, and
economic issues related to the, human geography of the Pinellas Peninsula. I appreciate
the camaraderie and support offered by Raymond O. Arsenault, Mark I. Greenberg,
and Gary R. Mormino. As a colleague in this project, Stephanie Ferrell authored
excellent narratives that outlined the architectural history and preservation concerns for
each of the buildings. Docents and volunteers who provided assistance during the
course of this project includes Susan Anemaet, Janet Brewster, Sandra Crist-Apple,
Everett Daniel, Verna Daniel,! Bob Delack, Sue Searcy Goldman, Frank T. Hurley,
Donald J. Ivey, Joe Knetsch, Randy Lightfoot, Vincent Luisi, Barbara Neville, Harriet
Protos, Sandra Rooks, Michael Sanders, and Wesley Stewart. My colleagues at the
Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, under the leadership of Kathleen Hardee Arsenault,
the library Dean, also showed support throughout the duration of this project.
I am most appreciative for the editorial guidance offered by Carolyn Schnur Hoffman,
who took a red pen to the rough drafts and made many suggestions to improve the
narrative. I give my greatest debt of gratitude to Phuongdung Hoang Ta Schnur, my
wife, for tolerating my many trips into the nineteenth-century history of Western
Hillsborough when I should have been mowing the lawn or spending time away from the
computer. Her love and patience, especially when I went straight from the library to a
Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball game, will always be appreciated.
List of Illustrations
Cover Daniel and Margaret Ann Campbell McMullen's family, taken at
the family homestead in 1894. (Courtesy of the Florida
Photographic Collection, State Archives of Florida, Image:
Page 8 Early Pinellas County leaders in front of the first Courthouse,
Cornerstone placing ceremony at Pinellas County Courthouse
Page 9 View of Spring Bayou, Tarpon Springs, looking west, from
Damage to the railroad station and packing house at
Coachman after the 1921 hurricane. This site, originally
settled by James P. McMullen in the 1840s, became part
of Solomon Smith Coachman's citrus empire during the
early twentieth century.
Page 186 McMullen family reunion, held in July 1925 at "Uncle Dan"
McMullen's Largo family estate.
Gathering of Charles B. and Hallie Ellis McMullen's family in
Page 227 Photonegative of the Belleview Biltmore, taken in the 1940s.
Workers loading grapefruit into a truck at a Largo grove, 1948.
Page 228 Grapefruit tree planted at Philippe Hammock in the mid-1800s,
one of the earliest citrus trees in the region. The photograph
is from 1948.
Fish-fry in Green Springs, now Safety Harbor, in 1909.
Page 245 Portrait of Anson Peacely Killen Safford.
Portrait of Soledad Bonillas Safford.
Page 291 Early railroad crossing in Pinellas County, circa 1925.
View of Sulphur Springs depot at its original location in
Hillsborough County, July 1972.
Page 359 Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward delivering a speech
at the Williams Park Bandstand in downtown St. Petersburg,
Seminole Bridge at Bay Pines area, destroyed after the
Heritage Village: An Introduction
Historical Overview: From a Park to a Village
The open-air Pinellas County Historical Museum at Heritage Village occupies a
twenty-one acre site in central Pinellas County. Along with the neighboring Florida
Botanical Gardens and Gulf Coast Museum of Art, this popular venue serves as an
important anchor of the Pinewood Cultural Park complex. Originally known as "Heritage
Park," this historical village opened to the public on a ten-acre tract that includes the
southern half of the present-day property, bordered by 125th Street North and
Walsingham Road. The site later expanded to its present size of twenty-one acres. Since
the mid-1970s, workers have moved or reconstructed nearly thirty historical structures
amidst the pines and palmetto scrub. Funded by the Board of County Commissioners,
Heritage Village benefits from the guidance of advisory bodies such as the Pinellas
County Historical Commission and the support of non-profit cultural organizations,
including the Pinellas County Historical Society. During the summer of 1995, officials
changed the name of "Heritage Park" to "Heritage Village" to emphasize the difference
between a traditional park with picnic benches and playgrounds and a village that
preserves important historical structures. For the sake of consistency, subsequent chapters
will refer to this location as 'Heritage Village."
The plan to develop an open-air museum took shape in the mid-1970s. The
emphasis on American history surrounding the Bicentennial celebration, threats to the
Plant-Sumner House, and the availability of the House of Seven Gables propelled many
concerned citizens, organizations, and government officials into action. The Bicentennial
Committee of the Board of County Commissioners, the Pinellas County Historical
Commission, and the Junior League of Clearwater led efforts to locate funding and
resources. The county had acquired the parcel of land from Frank and Ursula Shirvis
nearly three decades earlier, but did not have specific long-term plans for it. With
developers planning to build new structures on land then occupied by Plant-Sumner and
Seven Gables, local architect Don Williams designed a site plan for the original ten acres
of the Heritage Village site that included those two structures. In 1976, the county
allocated approximately $60,000 to construct a Florida "Cracker" dwelling that served as
the first museum building. Before Kendrick Ford even began his first day on the job as
director, plans to move Plant-Sumner and Seven Gables were "done deals." Four large
moving vans transported archival and museum collections from the basement of the
Pinellas County Courthouse in downtown Clearwater to the secure, climate-controlled
structures at Heritage Village.1
Controversy followed the creation of Heritage Village. Some donors and public
officials angrily demanded that items deposited in the courthouse archives should remain
in Clearwater-the seat of government for Pinellas County-rather than at a building
nestled in the remote palmetto scrub on a tract of unincorporated land south of Largo.
Others condemned the relocation of buildings from their original settings. Historical
preservationists usually prefer that structures remain at their original locations whenever
possible. However, the ever-changing and urbanizing landscape of the Pinellas Peninsula
threatened many older buildings as residential communities and commercial enterprises
uprooted citrus groves and obstructed coastal vistas. Public officials and concerned
citizens had to make a choice of either relocating these structures or witnessing their
demise. During its early years, one preservationist lambasted Heritage Village as
representing nothing more than a "zoo for buildings." Ford, members of the Pinellas
County Historical Commission, and other supporters also had to fight against the
common assumption that many citizens held during the early 1970s: "If it's old, tear it
down." Finally, in an area with few natives and many transplants, residents often knew
little about the history of the Pinellas Peninsula. The success of Heritage Village thus
required a strong emphasis on public education and assistance from outside
organizations, such as the Pinellas County Historical Society. This non-profit
organization, established in 1976, supports the mission of Heritage Village, aids in the
preservation of artifacts, and promotes scholarship and historical education programs and
Despite obstacles, challenges, and funding limitations, excitement prevailed as
official broke ground and dedicated the open-air museum. Don Jones, chair of the County
Clearwater Sun, 1 April 1976; Interview of Ken Ford, former director of Heritage Village, by Stephanie
Ferrell and Jim Schnur, 3 May 2003, Heritage Village, Largo.
2 St. Petersburg Times, 13 April 1980; Ken Ford Interview.
Commission, told those at the spring 1976 groundbreaking ceremony that "we are
honoring those people in the past who were good enough to work for the future." George
Gramling, chair of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, saw Heritage Village as
the crossroads for "a confederation of local historical societies, rotating exhibits, museum
outreach, and education for all and an outreach program into the schools." In June 1977,
commissioners, other county officials, and dignitaries traveled by bus from Clearwater
for the dedication ceremonies. They enjoyed box lunches provided by the Junior League
of Clearwater during the ride. This ceremony marked the formal opening of Heritage
Village as a fully-operational museum with public history programs and exhibits.3
More than a Pioneer Village
Many visitors to Heritage Village mistakenly view the museum as an assembly of
"pioneer" buildings. While certain dwellings (the McMullen-Coachman Log House,
Daniel McMullen House, Boyer Cottage, etc.) represent some of the oldest existing
structures on the Pinellas Peninsula, any characterization of their occupants as pioneers
who led simple, agrarian lives fails to provide a complete--or accurate-picture of the
social history of early settlers. For example, Joshua and Mary Boyer's cottage became an
important meeting place for Hamilton Disston and Anson Safford, notable entrepreneurs
who reshaped the Pinellas frontier and, indeed, much of peninsular Florida. Captain
James Parramore McMullen's log house served as an early hospital and provided a
resting place for those making the long overland trek to Tampa. Members of the
McMullen family did much more than farm: As a young child living with his parents in
the McMullen-Coachman log house during the 1850s, Bethel McMullen assiduously
collected and voraciously read volumes of poetry. According to family histories, Union
troops burned his small library of books during the Civil War when they visited the cabin.
Just as Bethel's photographic memory and ability to recite long passages of poetry
continued to amaze family members at gatherings in the early twentieth century, his early
years at the cabin included many hours of reading and studying, as well as the plowing of
the fields and other "pioneer" activities.
3 Clearwater Sun, 1 April 1976, 22 June 1977.
In the summer of 1914, one of the earliest "pioneers" of the Pinellas Peninsula
described changes along the frontier up to that time that illustrated the complexity of life
during the early days of settlement. Barely two years after independence from
Hillsborough County, William F. "Uncle Billy" Meares recalled events he had witnessed
since arriving in the Lowe's Landing area nearly fifty-four years earlier by dividing the
history of settlement into four distinct periods. According to "Uncle Billy," the first
period covered the earliest settlement before the mid-1870s, a time when "nothing was
obtainable except what was provided by nature on the land and in the water." Prosperous
times arrived by the 1870s as farmers enjoyed woods full of cattle and planted large
citrus groves. A brief recession followed as some settlers abandoned their land and left
the area. The final period, a time of "development and prosperity," arrived by the late
1890s and, in the opinion of Meares, would remain a permanent fixture on the landscape.
"Uncle Billy" Meares's narrative indicates that any attempt to define early settlement
patterns-and by extension the structures occupied by early settlers-in a simple
"pioneer" motif inhibits an understanding of the complex web of family, commercial, and
social interactions of early residents.4
Overview of the "Pinellas County Stories" Grant
Jan Luth, Director of Heritage Village, submitted a grant proposal to the Florida
Humanities Council in 2002. This ambitious project sought funding to research and
design narratives that explored Pinellas County's history through the structures located at
Heritage Village/The Pinellas County Historical Museum. This project served a variety of
purposes: to evaluate the present archival holdings related to the history of structures at
Heritage Village, to compile accurate information about the owners and occupants of the
buildings, and to develop scholarly resources that benefit those interested in the social
history of the Pinellas Peninsula. The Florida Humanities Council awarded a grant
entitled Pinellas County Stories Revealed through Heritage Village (Grant number 1102-
28831690) in late 2002. The timeline for the grant covered the period from February
2003 through January 2004.
4 Largo Sentinel, 9 July 1914.
Two humanities scholars participated in this project. Stephanie Ferrell, a Fellow
in the American Institute of Architects, crafted narratives describing the architectural
background, primary uses and modifications, present physical condition, and preservation
concerns for the major structures at Heritage Village. James Schnur, a librarian and
adjunct instructor of history, conducted research of primary and secondary sources
documenting the buildings, known and possible occupants, and the social history of the
region. In mid-February 2003, Ferrell and Schnur developed research outlines and
timetables that corresponded with the grant parameters. Between February and late
summer 2003, Ferrell and Schnur conducted architectural and historical research on the
buildings, their owners and occupants, associated families, and their cultural and
geographical milieu. Both scholars examined materials located in the Heritage Village
Library and Archives, conducted interviews with individuals familiar with the buildings,
and consulted other repositories for additional information. They also worked closely
with Heritage Village staff and a steering committee comprised of academicians, docents,
genealogists, public historians, and other volunteers.
The research methodology included an extensive review of primary sources,
starting with those kept at Heritage Village. A review of biographical and building files at
Heritage Village produced mixed results. Some buildings (i.e., Union Academy) and
families (such as the McMullens) included a veritable cornucopia of material, while other
structures and individuals remained shrouded in mystery. For example, the builders and
early occupants of the Greenwood House, originally located near the Clearwater
waterfront in the area of Turner Street, remain unknown. Records in the building files at
Heritage Village offer more information about the air conditioning system installed in the
Greenwood House after its arrival on site than the families who resided at the structure
between 1888 and 1982.
After evaluating materials at Heritage Village, the humanities scholars broadened
their research to cover other repositories. Indexes, including the Florida History card
catalogue at the main branch of the St. Petersburg Public Library and the Pinellas County
newspaper index compiled by the Works Progress Administration, provided citations for
notable events (dedications, obituaries, etc.) associated with some buildings and
occupants. City directories, census records, property records, newspaper clippings, and
other documents offered insight into the changes in ownership and use of many of the
structures. Even when structures had an obvious pedigree, researchers looked for
additional information to trace patterns in ownership or occupancy. For example, Joshua
and Mary Boyer moved out of the Boyer Cottage in 1898; other families lived in and took
possession of that structure in subsequent years. A thorough narrative of the Boyer
Cottage-or any of the other structures examined under this grant-required researchers
to examine land use and ownership patterns prior to the building's construction, as well
as during periods after the original occupants had moved out of the structure.
In many cases, significant gaps appeared in the historical record. To reconstruct
the social history of a family, researchers require a variety of primary sources that
describe events at home, as well as primary and secondary sources about the community
that provide a broader context. Diaries, journals, ledgers, genealogical records and
similar materials allow scholars to trace events and understand patterns that docents,
curators, and public historians craft into dialogues, displays, and presentations. A wealth
of information simplifies this task. For example, Dr. Samuel Henry Forrer, a longtime
resident of Polk County in central Florida, kept meticulous diaries about the activities of
him and his life, Louise. He not only described their visits to restaurants, but also what
they ate! Gatherings of friends, weather conditions, and detailed notes about Samuel and
Louise filled the pages of these journals.5 Lacking such thorough diaries for the buildings
at Heritage Village, researchers tried to compensate by examining extant public records,
newspaper articles, photographs, and other documents.
After completing the research phases, the humanities scholars wrote research
notes and offered public lectures about their findings. Ferrell's architectural history briefs
reside in the building files at the Heritage Village Library and Archives. These narratives
also provided invaluable assistance to Schnur as he attempted to illustrate the social
history associated with major structures at Heritage Village in the chapters that appear in
this book. Ferrell and Schnur shared their findings in programs sponsored by the Florida
Humanities Council and Heritage Village during the fall of 2003. Ferrell offered an
architectural walking tour at Heritage Village on November 9. Schnur presented three
5 The Samuel H. Forrer diaries reside in the Special Collections Department, Tampa Library, University of
lectures that traced settlement patterns reflected through these buildings from the pioneer
days of life in Western Hillsborough through the mid-twentieth century. The first lecture,
"Life on the Pinellas Frontier: Early Settlers along the Peninsula," took place on October
12. On October 20, he examined structures associated with the period "From Railroads to
Real Estate Booms." Finally, on November 17, he described how successive generations
went about "Building a Sense of Community" through the construction of social and
Format for this Publication
Subsequent chapters evaluate the social history of significant structures located or
reconstructed at Heritage Village. Each chapter contains two sections: The Brief
Introduction outlines the history of the site's use and ownership before construction,
architectural information about the building, a history of the occupants, important events
and activities that took place, and the circumstances surrounding the structure's move to
Heritage Village; the Narrative offers a short overview of the structure before describing
its significance to the history of the Pinellas Peninsula. Chapters generally follow a
chronological development of the structures and relate events at the buildings to broader
themes in Pinellas history at the time. When appropriate, narratives also mention areas
for further research, gaps in the historical record, or inconsistencies between different
Given the magnitude of this project, the author has limited the coverage of the
narrative to the major historical structures at Heritage Village. Chapters describe all of
the major buildings moved or reconstructed at Heritage Village except for the Beach
House, a former residence once located at 15356 Gulf Boulevard in Madeira Beach that
now serves as a gift shop. Space and time limitations prevented an extensive discussion
of other smaller structures at Heritage Village, such as the outhouse, smokehouse, water
tower, and windmill. Despite these limitations, the author hopes that the following
chapters provide a framework that allows present and future researchers to appreciate
how the structures located at Heritage Village reveal important information about the
history of Pinellas County.
i- i-- -:--
-~ '1 i
Early Pinellas County leaders in front of thefirst Courthouse, 1912.
(Source: Florida Photographic Collection, Reference Collection,
State Archives of Florida, Image: RC033 76)
Cornerstone placing ceremony at Pinellas County Courthouse in
(Source: Florida Photographic Collection, State Archives of Florida,
T 11,. ~r~ I'
Looking west at Spring Bayou, Tarpon Springs, near the site where
Joshua Boyer first brought his boat ashore. This image dates from
the 1890s, after the arrival of the Orange Belt Railway.
(Source: Florida Photographic Collection, Reference Collection,
State Archives of Florida, Image: RC02387)
-.. .7.J/} ja S/^/tir 4..'- if i'kj-, A /oA e,
Damage to railroad station and packing house at Coachman,
after the 1921 hurricane. James P. McMullen originally homesteaded
at this site in the 1840s. Solomon Smith Coachman purchased the
property in the early 1900s and maintained the original groves.
(Source: Florida Photographic Collection, State Archives of
Florida, Image: N031960)
Boyer Cottage: A Brief Introduction
History of Site before House was Built
> Aside from itinerant fishermen, few settlers lived in the area around Tarpon
Springs during the 1870s. The area did receive attention from planters and
farmers in more settled areas such as Brooksville, because of the excellent fishing
in the waters of the Anclote River.
SA. W. Ormond and daughter Mary traveled through Florida in 1876, and arrived
in the area of present-day Tarpon Springs.
> A year later, Joshua Boyer arrived from Key West during a trip along the Anclote
and happened upon the Ormond residence. He decided to stay in the region and
homesteaded forty acres. A native of Nassau, Boyer frequently sailed around the
Keys and along the Gulf coast of Florida. An obituary also claims that Boyer's
parents had lived in Nova Scotia at some time in the past.
> Joshua and Mary fell in love, and genealogical records indicate that they married
in April 1877 in the City of Tampa, seat of Hillsborough County.
> Many histories of the Tarpon Springs note that the city probably got its name
from Mary after she saw tarpons springing from the bayou, though some believe
that Josh Boyer, because of his experience as a fisher, gave the community its
name. Boyer himself credits Mary for naming the town in honor of "the great
numbers of tarpon fish that frequent the springs."
> Original structure (similar in appearance to its present condition) was a small
square home of approximately fourteen by fourteen (280 square) feet built near
Spring Bayou. Constructed sometime in 1878, and considered a "temporary
structure" until the Boyers could erect a more permanent dwelling.
> Representative of wood-frame Gulf Coast vernacular architecture found in similar
structures of the period along the coast from Florida to Texas. The one-room
cottage had board and batten exterior siding and a shingled, high-peaked roof.
> Subsequent additions to the structure appeared after 1906, including two side
sections and a rear section. These areas were damaged by a fire before the cottage
moved from Tarpon Springs to Heritage Village.
> Although Tarpon Springs did have an electric plant before the turn of the century,
this structure lacked electricity throughout its history in Tarpon Springs.
History of Occupants
> Joshua and Mary Boyer occupied the structure by 1878. In 1881, Hamilton
Disston purchased approximately four million acres of land in Florida for a
quarter an acre. This purchase included many valuable acres throughout present-
day Pinellas County. Part of Disston's purchase in Tarpon Springs included the
site the Boyers squatted upon; Joshua Boyer had to repurchase his land at
$1.25/acre. As the Lake Butler Villa Company developed lands in and around
Tarpon Springs, Boyer gave up control of much of his holdings in the region.
>An 1878 Sunland Tribune article about the "Anclote Region" notes that while the
area had received only occasional attention since the Civil War, "more recently it
has been settling up quite rapidly." The article touted the Anclote River area as
the best large-scale fishing area between the mouth of Tampa Bay and the Cedar
Keys area. The few families along the northern Pinellas region often engaged in
farming and/or citrus cultivation.
> In January 1883, a Sunland Tribune reporter making the long trip from Tampa to
Tarpon Springs met Boyer and had venison-"which is not an unusual dish with
them"-at the cottage before visiting the "proposed city." By that time, town
entrepreneurs had approximately 20,000 feet of lumber on hand for construction
projects, with more on the way. After clearing trees along the right-of-way, city
leaders had started to construct thirty-foot wide avenues.
> Boyer built a barn that apparently become a home and boarding house that served
as the town's first hotel. The structure was known as "Long House" and the
"Tropical," and was later held by Walter Meres of the pioneer Meres family.
Guests included A. P. K. Safford and other notable early visitors.
> Though the 1880 census notes Boyer's profession as "sailor," Boyer operated a
ferry to Cedar Keys, a regular coach to Tampa (then a two-day trip), and a livery
stable during the 1880s and 1890s.
> By 1885, Joshua's brother, mother, and two sisters came to the areas. Boyer's
nephew (son of his brother, John), D. P. Boyer, remained in Tarpon and served as
a leader in the community (city judge).
> In 1898, Joshua, Mary, and her father (A. W. Ormond) moved to Eau Gallie in
Brevard County. The 1900 census has Joshua as a fisherman and his father-in-law
as a farmer. A false legend claimed that A. W. Ormond later helped to establish
Ormond Beach. By 1910, Joshua managed a meat market and Mary ran a
boarding house in Brevard County. The Boyers occasionally visited Tarpon, and
news of their arrival often appeared in the Tarpon Springs Leader.
> During the early 1900s, elegant homes sprouted up in the area around Spring
Bayou. The simple cottage seemed out of place alongside such impressive
structures. The cottage moved to 140 Orange Avenue in 1920.
> The Protos family purchased the home and held it for many years.
Moving of the House to Heritage Village
> The building suffered from fire damage shortly before its planned move to
> Approval to move the cottage occurred at the March 1978 Historical Commission
A native of the Bahamas, Joshua C. Boyer sailed along the Anclote River to
Spring Bayou in early 1877. At that site, he met Alexander M. Ormond and his daughter,
Mary Ormond. The Ormonds, natives of North Carolina, had recently homesteaded on a
parcel near present-day Pinellas Avenue in Tarpon Springs. Joshua Boyer wed Mary
Ormond in April 1877. They built a small cottage near the intersection of Boyer Street
and Pinellas Avenue, and soon thereafter constructed stables for livestock. Many sources
credit Mary Boyer for giving Tarpon Springs its name in 1879 or 1880.
The Boyers lived in this cottage for approximately twenty-one years, from 1877
until 1898. This period roughly corresponds with the Gilded Age of American history, a
period between Reconstruction and the Progressive Era characterized by the expansion of
railroads and frenzied business speculation. The Boyers certainly witnessed a "gilded
age" of sorts along the northern Pinellas Peninsula. After Philadelphia magnate Hamilton
Disston acquired substantial tracts of land throughout Florida, he dispatched his
representatives to examine his purchases. Soon the Boyers served as hosts for Anson
Safford, a former gold miner and territorial governor of Arizona, as well as many other
agents of Disston. By the 1880s, their quiet settlement along the Bayou grew into the
largest city in Western Hillsborough County. Many meetings to cement business deals
during the early 1880s occurred either at the Boyer Cottage or a small hotel he operated.
Joshua and Mary Boyer witnessed substantial changes in Tarpon Springs during
their time at this cottage. By 1898, they moved to Eau Gallie, a small settlement along the
Indian River in Brevard County. They continued to visit family and friends in Tarpon
during the early 1900s, and their small cottage-with subsequent additions-remained on
Pinellas Avenue until about 1920. From there, the Boyer Cottage moved to Orange
Avenue, a block north of the main business district, until 1978. During this time, the
cottage became one of the few residences in the City of Tarpon Springs that lacked
electricity. In early 1979, members of the Protos family that had owned the building
decided to donate it to Heritage Village.
A Safe Place to Anchor
Although Panfilo de Narvaez had visited the Pinellas Peninsula in April 1528,
extensive settlement of this region did not occur until the late 1800s. Many of the
indigenous Native American cultures had disappeared by the early 1700s. By the mid-
1700s and early 1800s, itinerant fishers of Spanish ancestry regularly sailed along
Florida's West Coast. During these excursions, some parties anchored near the wide
mouth of the Anclote River or ventured along the river to camp in its protected harbor.
Others trolled the waters of Tampa Bay, a large body of water that often appeared on
early maps with its given Spanish name, "Bahia del Espiritu Santo" (in translation: "Bay
of the Holy Spirit").
"Anclote" derives from a Spanish word for a kedge or small anchor commonly
used by sailing vessels. Similar to Boca Ciega Bay in southern Pinellas-a twisting bay
meaning "Blind Mouth" or "Blind Pass"-Anclote seems an appropriate name given the
river's ability to hide and protect sailors who encountered rough weather or hostile
parties. Spanish and French maps of the early 1700s prominently noted the Anclote cape
and river regions. Cartographers designed many of these early maps by using the sketchy
navigational notes of Gulf Coast expeditions while working in their European studios.
Some illustrative examples follow.' A 1718 French map of Louisiana and Florida
includes a "Cap Anclote" designation for Anclote Key near a site referred to as "Tampa."
The wide mouth of the Anclote River made it appear that this inland waterway connected
with Tampa Bay, creating an image of the Pinellas peninsula as an island entirely
disconnected from peninsular Florida.2 English mapmaker Iohn (John) Senix duplicated
this 1718 map in his 1721 rendition.3 A 1720 image created by H. Moll, a geographer,
also separates much of Pinellas south of the Cape of Anclote from the rest of Florida.4 A
' Bertha E. Bloodworth and Alton C. Morris, Places in the Sun: The History and Romance ofFlorida
Place Names (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1978), 98
2 For an image of this 1718 map, Carte de la Louisiane et du course du Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi]: dressde
sur un grand nombre de mdmoires entrautres sur ceux de Mr. le Maire /par Guillaume Del'isle del
Academic R'le. des Sciences, see: http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/maps/1700/ct000666.htm.
3 For an image of Senix's map, A map of Louisiana and of the river Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi] : this map
of the Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi] is most humbly inscribed to William Law ofLanreston, esq. / by lohn
Senex, see: http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/maps/1700/ct000682.htm.
4 For an image of H. Moll's 1720 map, A new map of the north parts ofAmerica claimed by France under
ye names ofLouisiana, Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi], Canada, and New France with ye adjoining territories
of England and Spain : to Thomas Bromsall, esq., this map of Louisiana, Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi] & c.
1744 French map places "Caye d'Anclote" much further north of Tampa Bay.5 A
Spanish map of Florida and Cuba released in 1757 places an island of Anclote well
offshore and northwest of Tampa Bay.6 Mention of "Cayo del Anclote"-literally
"Anclote Key"-appears in William Roberts's 1763 Account of the First Discovery, and
Natural History of Florida. This publication, released the year Great Britain acquired the
Florida territory from the Spaniards after defeating France and Spain in the Seven Years'
(or French and Indian) War, includes maps of Florida. One plate depicts peninsular
Florida as a series of disconnected islands from south of present-day Marion County to
the mouth of the St. Johns River. Like a dish smashed into pieces, this map gave an
impression of island chains with interconnected (and unexplored) bodies of water. For
example, another map plate in this book includes an image of Bahia del Espiritu Santo
(Tampa Bay) that connects through an interior waterway (possibly the Manatee River) to
the Laguna del Espiritu Santo (possibly Lake Okeechobee) and the St. Johns River.
Roberts notes that the "very large and noble" Tampa Bay "is capable of receiving the
largest fleet that ever was collected in this part of the world, and may, in case of any
future rupture [war], be of great importance to the crown of Great Britain." He devotes
little attention to Anclote, however, briefly mentioning that the lands surrounding this
area constitute "a place but very little known." 7
Navigational maps of the Tampa Bay region improved during the late 1700s and
early 1800s. A fairly accurate 1777 map of Espiritu Santo Bay shows the Pinellas islands
from approximately Redington Beach southward, and differentiates between Espiritu
Santo (lower Tampa Bay) and Tampa Bay (now old or upper Tampa Bay). Expeditions
along the land also noted a reservoir of fresh water at the site of Mirror Lake in this
rendition.8 Maps published after Florida became a state in March 1845 generally offered
accurate illustrations of Florida's gulf coastline between Cedar Keys and Tampa Bay.
is most humbly dedicated, H. Moll, geographer / laid down according to the newest and most exact
observations by H. Moll, geographer, see: http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/maps/1700/ct000677Pan.htm.
5 For an image of this map, Carte de la Louisiane course du Mississipi [i.e. Mississippi] etpais voisins:
dedide a M. le Comte de Maurepas, ministry et secretaire d'etat commander des ordres du roy /par N.
Bellin ingenieur de la marine, 1744 ; Dheulland sculp, see:
6 See: http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/maps/1700/m054001.htm.
7 William Roberts, An Account of the First Discovery, and Natural History ofFlorida, Bicentennial
Floridiana Facsimile Series (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1976), 16-17.
8 See: http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/maps/1700/m010700.htm.
These images clearly marked the area around the mouth of the Anclote River as a notable
and prominent area, and most showed the islands, keys, and land areas along the Anclote
River with excellent detail. For example, an 1875 map clearly outlined the Anclote
River, nearby islands, Lake Butler (now Lake Tarpon) and other navigable waterways in
and around Tampa Bay.
Early arrivals to the region braved hostilities during the Civil War. By 1864,
William Lawrence Thompson and wife Julia Holland moved with family members from
Hamilton County to an area about four miles south of present-day Tarpon Springs. Some
narratives note that they became the first farmers to cultivate oranges in the northwestern
corer of the Pinellas Peninsula. Their son, William Benjamin Thompson, cleared lands
(possibly further south near Curlew) and planted citrus by the 1880s.9
The first settlers came to the Anclote region after the Civil War. Frederic and
Franklin B. Meyer left their Marion County farmsteads in 1867 and settled north of the
mouth of the Anclote River. They may have heard about the region's excellent reputation
for fishing from other farmers in west central Florida. For example, planters living in and
around Brooksville occasionally ventured to the mouth of the Anclote during the
antebellum period in search of fish. While such visits probably subsided during the Civil
War, interest in the area increased by the late 1860s and 1870s. In time, the families
huddled along this area established a small settlement near the mouth of the river known
as Anclote. R. F. Pent, a June 1878 native of the Tarpon Springs region and grandson of
B. F. Meyer, described the isolated Anclote settlement in his 1964 history of Tarpon
Springs. While local forests offered an abundance of game, other provisions required
long trips to a cabin near Clear Water Harbor, or more distant locations such as Tampa or
Cedar Keys. Daniel Brinton's 1869 guidebook to Florida described many of the "low and
marshy" rivers north of the mouth of Tampa Bay as "producing little of value except a
fine variety of cedar." At this time, most new arrivals to Tampa Town, a community of
approximately 600 residents, reached their destination by taking a one-day trip by a
steamer from Cedar Keys along the Gulf for a fare of $10. During passage between Cedar
For an image of this map, "Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1877 by Asher and
Adams...," see: http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/maps/1800c/m011403.htm; Gertrude K. Stoughton, Tarpon
Springs, Florida: The Early Years, 2d ed. (Tarpon Springs: Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society, 1992),
Keys and Tampa, travelers may have noticed the small settlement that began to take
shape at Anclote by the early 1870s; Brinton certainly learned of the spongers that had
started to harvest the reefs in the area by the late 1860s.10
Indeed, divers from Key West and other coastal outposts began to collect sponges
as the small Anclote community attracted settlers. By Pent's estimate, over ninety percent
of the spongers and sailors who visited Anclote from the Keys came from "British
extraction." Some of these men originally came to the Keys from the Bahamas or British
West Indies to perform the dangerous tasks of "wrecking" and salvaging on the many
boats damaged while journeying near the Florida reefs. In time, some Conch transplants
became spongers who harvested the Gulf waters and socialized with the local women
during their visits to Anclote. Between 1868 and the mid-1870s, Anclote attracted
sponging fleets and residents from the Keys, other areas of the American South, and
distant lands such as England. Pent's narrative describes some of these early residents,
including Captain Samuel Hope, who arrived by way of Brooksville, and Arthur Farquar,
a native of England who constructed a sawmill at the site later occupied by the former
Stauffer Chemical plant. During this period when Anclote had a grocery and post office,
Pent noted that Tarpon "remained an unsettled forest" where deer, bobcats, turkeys, and
other animals freely roamed."
A Fishy Story of How New Settlers Sprung into Action and Built a Town
Alexander W. Ormond and his daughter, Mary E. Ormond, settled in the area of
present-day Tarpon Springs in 1876. A native of North Carolina born in August 1822, he
fathered Mary with a woman originally from North Carolina who is unnamed in census
records. Mary, the only known child of A. W. Ormond, came into the world about 1853
in her parents' home state of North Carolina. While all published accounts note their
arrival in Florida by 1876, records from the 1870 federal census indicate that they may
have lived in Hillsborough County much earlier than originally thought. A man named
"A. W. Orman" and his daughter, "Mary Orman," lived at Stephen Knight's homestead
10 R. F. Pent, History of Tarpon Springs (St. Petersburg: Great Outdoors, 1964), 7; Sunland Tribune, 25
May 1878; Daniel Garrison Brinton, A Guide-Book ofFlorida and the South, Bicentennial Floridiana
Facsimile Series (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1978), 96, 106-108.
Pent, History of Tarpon Springs, 7-15; Brinton, A Guide-Book, 98-99.
in Hillsborough County. While their reported ages do not correspond exactly with other
records, both claimed to be natives of North Carolina. "Orman" worked as a farm hand.
Further research of property records may therefore place the Ormonds in Hillsborough
County-probably closer to Tampa than the upper Pinellas Peninsula-by 1870.12 By
1876, Alexander and Mary Ormond decided to move to the upper Pinellas Peninsula.
They cleared land and constructed a small cabin near the present-day intersection of
Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive and Pinellas Avenue.
A native of the Bahamas soon joined the Ormonds as a nearby neighbor. Joshua
C. Boyer, eldest child of Abraham and Hannah Campbell Boyer of Nassau, became a
proficient navigator by the mid-1870s. Born circa December 1851 in Nassau, Joshua had
one younger brother (John Grey, born September 1859), and two younger sisters
(Elizabeth, born circa 1860, and A. G. Boyer, born about 1864). Boyer's parents may
have lived in Nova Scotia before moving to the Bahamas. As a young man, Josh made a
journey similar to other early sailors who arrived along Florida's West Coast by way of
the Bahamas, including descendants of the Lowe and Meares families of Anona. Boyer
left the Bahamas, immigrated to the United States in 1869 or 1870, spent time in and
around the Florida Keys, and traveled northward along the Gulf Coast. An 1877 fishing
trip brought him to the small Anclote settlement, and he decided "by chance" to stop at
the Ormond residence near the protected waters of Spring Bayou. Within a short time, he
constructed his "permanent home" south of Boyer Street and Pinellas Avenue. He soon
erected a livery stable that later became the area's first "hotel."'3
Shortly after arriving, Joshua Boyer wed Mary Ormond and they built a small
cottage on his land. They courted for a brief period before exchanging vows in Tampa in
April 1877.14 Intended as a temporary structure, the fourteen-by-fourteen wood
12 Census records used in this research appear in files located at the Heritage Village Library and Archives,
13 Genealogical research on the Boyer and Ormond families appears in files held at the Heritage Village
Library and Archives, Largo; St. Petersburg Times, 17 May 1933; Pent, History of Tarpon Springs, 18. For
a brief autobiographical account of Boyer's life in Tarpon Springs, see the typewritten "Some Early
Reminiscences of Tarpon Springs, Florida, by J. C. Boyer, Eau Gallie, Florida." A copy of this narrative
appears in files at the Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo. The story also appeared verbatim in
an issue of the Tarpon Springs Leader. In an extract from the 1900 census, Boyer claimed he emigrated
from the Bahamas to the United States in 1869.
14 Gertrude Stoughton's history of early Tarpon Springs marks the wedding date of Joshua and Mary
Ormond Boyer as 14 April 1877. Some genealogical sources, possibly using Stoughton as a source, also
"Honeymoon cottage" built by Boyer had one room and a high-peaked roof with wooden
shingles. Similar in form to many early cottages constructed along the Gulf Coast
between eastern Texas and Florida, this compact wood-frame vernacular building
included board and batten siding with interior floors showing tongue and grove planking
and a covered front porch.15 During the early 1900s, Joshua Boyer fondly remembered
those first few years living in relative isolation near Spring Bayou:
Everything there was ours. The land and the game
and fish were as free as the air. In the words of
another, 'We were monarchs of all we surveyed.'
Our nearest neighbor was Mr. Asa Clark who lived
in the Whitcomb place a mile away. Our next
nearest neighbor was W. B. Thompson, in the
Curliru Settlement, four miles distant. There was
also the Myers (sic) family, three miles down the
Wild deer, turkey, squirrels, and other animals provided a'steady diet of meat for their
table. Josh and Mary did much of their trading at the sawmill and mercantile located at
the Seaside settlement located west of their homestead. With the nearest frontier post
office then located at Clear Water Harbor (now Clearwater), settlers retrieved mail for
neighbors whenever they traveled south for supplies.17
By the late 1870s, others had started to visit the area around Spring Bayou, an
inlet given that name because of the occasional upwelling of water through an
underground spring connected to Lake Butler (now known as Lake Tarpon). The
turbulent waters and protected enclave attracted a variety of marine life, including
schools of tarpon. The abundant fauna and fish sustained these settlers, and soon the
remote settlement attracted farmers and speculators in search of lands in the unnamed
settlement around the Bayou. A May 1878 article published in Tampa's Sunland Tribune
claimed that settlers had quickly learned of the excellent fishing along the Anclote, "the
give that date. A certified copy of the marriage license obtained from the Hillsborough County
courthouse-one that, by the way, appears in Stoughton's book-gives 24 April 1877 as the date of the
marriage license's issue, and 27 April 1877 as the actual date of the ceremony. See: Stoughton, Tarpon
Springs, 8; copy of marriage license appears in Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo.
SArchitectural research by Stephanie Ferrell appears in site files located at Heritage Village Library and
16 Joshua Boyer, "Some Early Reminiscences of Tarpon Springs."
best place for fishing on a large scale to be found anywhere on the coast between Tampa
(B)ay and Cedar Keys." Lands along the interior coast of the river provided abundant
opportunities for farmers, some of whom had already started cultivating oranges. A letter
written by an Anclote resident in the 29 June 1878 Sunland Tribune touts the area's
healthful climate, as well as its "romantic building sites, and beautiful bay views." To
those questioning the quality of the soil, this columnist celebrated the orange and lemon
groves, as well as a fertile soil along the interior that could sustain corn, cotton, and other
agricultural commodities. Praising the abundantly stocked waters as the best fishing spot
between Tampa Bay and Cedar Keys, this article argued that starvation could not occur
because of the mullet and trout frequenting the river that "would be sure to jump in his
line of vision."18
Recorded narratives generally credit Mary Ormond Boyer for giving Tarpon
Springs its name. However, the quotes and circumstances in these accounts do have slight
variations. In his 1929 history of Pinellas County, W. L. Straub claimed that Mary
exclaimed "See the tarpon spring!" while with others at an 1880 gathering along the
bayou. Thus, it is no surprise that this quote appears verbatim in Josh Boyer's 17 May
1933 obituary in Straub's St. Petersburg Times.19 Gertrude Stoughton's 1975 account
adds a sense of dramatic flair as the young mountain woman encounters the noble fish of
To the girl from the South Carolina mountains
much was new-the sea, the marshes and the moss-
draped trees-but she was particularly amazed by
the giant tarpon that swarmed in the bayou, leaping
in the sunlight and tossing off showers of spray. In
1879, she proposed a name for the tiny settlement-
George Frantzis's account conveniently places the event in 1883, noting that entrepreneur
John Cheyney and his wife stood by the Bayou and witnessed the event along with
Mary's husband, incorrectly identified as D. P. Boyer (Joshua's nephew). According to
18 Sunland Tribune, 25 May 1878, 29 June 1878.
19 St. Petersburg Times, 17 May 1933; William L. Straub, History ofPinellas County, Florida, Narrative
and Biographical (St. Augustine: The Record Company, 1929), 163.
20 Stoughton, Tarpon Springs, 7
Frantzis, Mary said, "See the Tarpon in the Springs!"21 Longtime area resident and
columnist Glen Dill, Sr., author of many "Suncoast Past" articles in north Pinellas and
Pasco County publications, embellished the tales of Frantzis and Stoughton in a
September 1977 clipping:
Anyway, one day in 1879, Mary was standing at the
Bayou, probably with Joshua and her father, and
noticed a big commotion in the water. According to
historian George Frantzis, she loudly exclaimed,
'See the tarpon in the springs!' That remark about
the great fish that used to swarm in Spring Bayou is
how the city got its name of Tarpon Springs.22
The most authoritative account on the matter appeared in an early typewritten statement
by Josh Boyer held by family members, one that later appeared in an issues of the Tarpon
Springs Leader and the archives of the Tarpon Springs Historical Society. Boyer
proclaimed: "In 1880 my wife gave the name, Tarpon Springs, to the town. This name
was selected because of the great numbers of tarpon fish that frequent the springs."23
The 1880 federal census notes four residents in the Boyer Cottage. Father-in-law
A. W. Ormond (miswritten by the census taker as "Norman") was fifty-eight years old,
without a listed occupation, and either widowed or divorced. As head of household,
twenty-seven year old Joshua worked as a sailor. His wife and Elizabeth (his twenty-two
year old sister) shared duties by "keeping house." Neighbors at the time included Captain
Hiram F. Pent, R. F. Pent's father, who regularly traveled by boat to Cedar Keys, and
members of the Gause and Youngblood families. Joshua's sister, Elizabeth, soon fell in
love with John P. Youngblood. Four days after receiving a marriage license on 22 March
1822, they exchanged vows in a ceremony in Tampa. John P. and Elizabeth Boyer
Youngblood continued to live as neighbors for the next few years.24
21 George Th. Frantzis, Strangers at Ithaca: The Story of the Spongers of Tarpon Springs, 2nd millennium
limited ed. (St. Petersburg: Fanitsa, 2001), 31.
22 Suncoast Shopper & News, 7 September 1977.
23 Joshua C. Boyer, "Some Early Reminiscences of Tarpon Springs."
24 Census information appears in files at Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo. A digitized image
of John P. and Elizabeth Youngblood's marriage license is available through the digitized Hillsborough
County Marriage License Collection, University of South Florida Libraries, Tampa. See also: Pent, History
of Tarpon Springs, 28.
A Gilded Age in a Small Gulf Shore Community
While the Boyers christened the settlement's name, events in Tallahassee and
Philadelphia soon unsettled their tranquil and remote frontier. With coffers running low,
leaders in the State of Florida negotiated a real estate transaction with Philadelphia
entrepreneur and manufacturer Hamilton Disston that allowed Disston, his brother Jacob,
and other associates to acquire four million acres of Florida lands for one million dollars.
Although authorities pledged to transfer swamp and submerged lands that required
reclamation, in reality the Disston land purchase included many handsome tracts without
flooding problems. Notable tracts covered much of present-day Pinellas County. By
early 1882, advance members of Disston's expedition had arrived at Tarpon Springs to
claim their purchase..Major Mathew Robinson Marks, a former officer in the Union army
who worked as an engineer and attorney, surprised the Boyers as he arrived with a
surveyor (Captain John B. Walton), a bookkeeper (W. N. Conley), and legal counsel
(John C. Jones). The Boyers provided shelter and hospitality to these men as they
examined the lands purchased by Disston and developed plans for establishing a city.
Before the end of the year, the Boyers also served as host to the family of Anson Peacely
Killen (A.P.K.) Safford, a Vermont native and third governor of the Arizona Territory. A
former gold miner who spent time scouring the West in search of mineral treasures,
Safford had joined into a partnership with Hamilton and Jacob Disston before arriving in
Florida. By 1883, Safford made plans to sell parcels around Tarpon Springs, while Marks
and Walton surveyed the land and designed the town. They crafted a map of the planned
community by 1884.25
Disston's purchase did spur controversy for many homesteaders. W. L. Straub's
account of the Disston land purchase enshrines this speculator in hagiographic terms.
Noting that many squatters had previously homesteaded on lands acquired by Disston,
Straub proclaimed that "in his magnamimous (sic) spirit, which characterized his actions
at all times, [Disston] allowed settlers to remain, authorizing the State to issue them
deeds, and thus the settlers came into good titles, without the necessity of paying for their
homes." Recognizing Disston's entrepreneurial spirit, Straub asserted that Disston "goes
25 Straub, History of Pinellas County, 260-261; Stoughton, Tarpon Springs, 8-10.
down in history as the pioneer who blazed the way, the Saviour of the State."26
Contradicting this effusive encomium, Boyer and others who settled in the areas around
Spring Bayou actually had to repurchase their lands from Disston's enterprise at about
$1.25 an acre. The 1884 town map of Tarpon Springs designed by John Walton shows
that Boyer had lost any claim to lands around the Bayou, including tracts then held by
Hamilton Disston, A.P.K. Safford, Major Marks, and others.27
While many accounts credit A.P.K. Safford as the "founder of Tarpon Springs,"
Joshua Boyer could rightfully claim a place as the settlement's first ambassador. Safford
and other early arrivals stayed at the town's first "hotel," a structure located near Pinellas
Avenue just south of Boyer Street that had originally served as the stable for the Boyers'
horses. Boyer had relocated the horses, renovated the building, and opened it as The
Long House. Within a short while members of the pioneer Webster, Noblit, and Meres
families arrived in Tarpon. Soon, Walter Meres took over The Long House, but Boyer
kept his horses and continued to meet with newcomers.28 An account in the 11 January
1883 Sunland Tribune-written shortly after Governor Safford's arrival-mentions a trip
to "Tarpon City" by a correspondent staying at Yellow Bluff, near present-day Palm
Harbor. Members of the entourage met Josh Boyer and Captain John B. Walton as they
approached the remote community. Boyer and Walton treated the party to a feast of "fine
venison"-a dish commonly enjoyed at Boyer's residence-before touring the "proposed
city." According to the newspaper article:
We saw improvements going up on all sides; at the
spring they have a substantial wharf, large and
strong enough for the accommodation of large
steamers to load and unload, which shows some of
Captain Walton's genius in construction. We also
notice a large warehouse, which will be used to
store the furniture now en route for the new hotel
which is to be built in the near future.29
26 Straub, History ofPinellas County, 261.
27 Stoughton, Tarpon Springs, 8-10, 12.
28 Stoughton, Tarpon Springs, 10-11; Pent, History of Tarpon Springs, 18. The reader should note that the
Meres family possesses a different ancestry than the Meares family that occupied Lowe's Landing and
Anona by the late 1850s.
29 Sunland Tribune, 11 January 1883.
By one estimate, Boyer and other developers had already secured or prepared nearly
20,000 feet of lumber board for construction projects. Local boat builders had started to
construct a "large lighter" (not the shallow steamer Mary Disston) to meet deep-water
vessels near the mouth of the Anclote River that brought furniture, provisions, and
freight. Boyer claimed that he "had to take care of all of these new-comers in [his]
residence until later in the year " when the Tropical and Tarpon Springs hotels
opened for business. Meanwhile, the article credits Major M. R. Marks of Orlando for his
work on behalf of Disston interests to clear trees and "growth of every kind" while
platting avenues thirty-feet wide.30
The Boyers joined other speculators in panning for speculative wealth during
Tarpon Spring's "gilded age." As the Disstons, Safford, and other conducted business
through the Lake Butler Villa Company, Boyer expanded his agricultural enterprises and
operated a regular mail coach across the barely improved roads between Tarpon Springs
and Tampa. Boyer hired Osmond Knowles as his driver and maintained a livery barn.
The journey between Tampa and Tarpon Springs generally took two days under favorable
weather conditions. Still a proficient sailor, Boyer maintained his sloop, the Tantalus, in
excellent condition and it remained one of the fastest boats on the coast. Boyer often
competed in races against the boats of other civic leaders, including James M. Vinson's
Vinessa. Boyer gained great notoriety as a guide who took fishing parties along the
Anclote and into the Gulf of Mexico. As his commercial activities grew, Boyer
encouraged family members to move to this frontier boomtown. By the early 1880s
(possibly 1882), Josh's brother-John Boyer-and their mother arrived from the
Bahamas and built a house close to the Boyer Cottage, near the southwestern corer of
the intersection of Pinellas Avenue and Lime Street. Other family members arrived by
30 June 1885, when the Florida state census listed many members of the Boyer family
living in close proximity. Joshua, then thirty-three years old, listed his occupation as
"speculating," while twenty-six year old John claimed to work as a "farmer." Sister A.G.
Boyer lived at John's residence, along with mother Hannah. The Youngbloods remained
nearby neighbors, though a twenty-three year old Florida native named A. J. Youngblood
lived as a "servant" with the Boyers. Two boarders who were probably Boyer's nephews,
30 Ibid.; Joshua C. Boyer, "Some Early Reminiscences of Tarpon Springs."
Frederich and Osmond Knowles, also resided with the family. The John Boyer home, a
center of much activity during the 1880s and 1890s, remained at the busy comer near the
center of Tarpon Springs for over eight decades.31
Three events in 1887 illustrated the maturation of Tarpon Springs: the city's
incorporation, the construction of the lighthouse on Anclote Key, and the arrival of the
Orange Belt Railway. Stoughton mentions a February 12 meeting at the settlement's
schoolhouse where most of the registered voters decided to incorporate Tarpon Springs as
a city. Joshua Boyer joined Anson Safford as two of the inaugural aldermen who served
with Mayor Wilber F. De Golier. While the lighthouse offered protection to boats sailing
along the Gulf shores near the Anclote River, the arrival of the Orange Belt solidified
Tarpon Springs' position as the predominant city of Western Hillsborough well into the
1890s. The locomotive had bypassed the small and declining settlement of Anclote. In
time, Anclote largely disappeared in a fashion similar to Hamilton Disston's dreams of a
megalopolis of Disston City when "General" John Constantine Williams persuaded Peter
Demens to turn the Orange Belt away from Disston's holdings in southern Pinellas and
towards the tiny settlement of Wardsville that became St. Petersburg. The arrival of the
railroad in upper Pinellas led to the demise of Tarpon's most notable steamboats. The
larger Governor Safford departed for service as a ferryboat in New York and South
Carolina before sinking in 1908; the smaller Mary Disston brought equipment to lower
Pinellas (before the completion of the Orange Belt) and later fell apart near Key West. A
fourth event in 1887 demonstrates how transportation remained dangerous in the region.
R. F. Pent recalled an incident when Mary Ormond Boyer rode on her buggy along
Pinellas Avenue. The horse, named Jim, became agitated and frightened, possibly by
Mary's umbrella. Jim took off and Mary held on for dear life as the buggy roared along
the sandy and rutted roadway. The horse did not stop until she lost her umbrella.32
31 Frantzis, Strangers at Ithaca, 37; Straub, History ofPinellas County, 163; Stoughton, Tarpon Springs,
12; Pent, History of Tarpon Springs, 18-19, 29,42. United States Archives and Records Service, Schedules
of the Florida State Census of 1885 (Washington: National Archives, 1970); Tarpon Springs Leader, 13
May 1921, 19 May 1933. According to Pent, Knowles also operated a hardware store with Horace
32 Stoughton, Tarpon Springs, 17-22; Pent, History of Tarpon Springs, 57-58. Images from the Stokes
Photographic Collection digitized by the University of South Florida Libraries capture views along the
route of the Sanford and St. Petersburg Railway during its construction. Photographs taken along the
Anclote River show a variety of boats, a growing number of boathouses along Spring Bayou, and other
scenes that capture Tarpon Springs during the mid and late 1880s.
Both Tarpon Springs and the Boyer family witnessed dramatic growth during the
1890s. Rapid development followed the arrival of the railroad. During this decade, John
K. Cheyney consolidated his business holdings in the nascent sponge-diving enterprises.
Meanwhile, Josh's brother-John G. Boyer-had a fruitful union with Annie M.
Priemen. A native of Michigan born in November 1871, Annie had parents of German
ancestry who arrived in the United States during the mid-1800s. John and Annie were
married by a Catholic priest in Tampa on 26 May 1891, the same day the court clerk
issued their marriage license. They probably went from the courthouse directly to the
church. They promptly returned to Tarpon Springs and started a family. After giving
birth to a son, Denza P. (or Dienza P., often "D.P.") Boyer in February 1893, Annie and
her husband celebrated the arrival of Marguerita (born March 1894), Ina Victoria (born
1896), Hannah (born July 1898), Raymond (born circa 1900), Elizabeth (born about
1905), and Joseph (born circa 1908-1909).33
A New Home on Florida's Opposite Coast
In 1898, as the Tampa Bay area became a focal point for the Spanish-American
War, Joshua and Mary Boyer moved from Tarpon Springs to Brevard County. They
settled in the small town of Eau Gallie, north of Melbourne and along the Indian River.
The 1900 census describes forty-eight year old Joshua as a "fisherman," and his seventy-
seven year old father-in-law, A. W. Ormond, as a "farmer." John Boyer and his family
remained in Tarpon Springs. While the older children attended school, John worked as a
sponge clipper. Although the exact reason for their departure remains unclear, Josh and
Mary Boyer and A. W. Ormond relocated to an area with a history of development that
closely resembled the early years of Tarpon Springs. In Carolynn A. Washbon's research
on the settlers of Indian River Country, she describes settlers moving to Eau Gallie in
1875, the year the Ormonds settled near present-day Tarpon. Families that homesteaded
along the Indian River, like those pioneering souls huddled along the Anclote, inhabited
an inaccessible region with few neighbors and many challenges. Similar to the upper
33 A digitized image of John G. and Annie Boyer's marriage license is available through the digitized
Hillsborough County Marriage License Collection, University of South Florida Libraries, Tampa. Census
information available in research files at Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo. An alternate
spelling of D. P. Boyer's name is "Dyenza." See: Tarpon Springs Leader, 24 January 1933.
Pinellas Peninsula, early residents of coastal Brevard could enjoy an abundance of
wildlife and seafood, but had difficulty obtaining provisions. As early families tried to
cultivate crops, they also demanded better steamer transportation in the area. While
Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway had launched its operations before the
Boyers moved to the region, the developments along the shoreline of Indian River
seemed familiar to those who witnessed similar changes along the Anclote. Meanwhile,
the new owners of the Boyer Cottage, members of the Segonias family, remembered that
the addition of two smaller rooms to the rear of the building took place sometime after
they acquired the structure in 1906.34
During the 1910s, members of the Boyer family contributed to the development
of both Florida coasts, as well as the safety of soldiers overseas. By 1910, Josh managed
a meat market in Brevard County, while his wife of thirty-two years operated a boarding
house. The census lists two boarders at their home on Highland Avenue: Joseph
Hendricks, a thirty-two year old native Floridian who painted signs, and a sixty-year old
James Gordon, a house laborer who emigrated from Scotland in 1905. At John Boyer's
home in Tarpon Springs, the seven children ranged in age from just over one year to
seventeen years old. D. P. Boyer, the eldest son, worked as a "telephone lineman," while
John continued to work in an important local industry as a "sponge packer." Research by
Glen Dill placed D. P. Boyer in the Navy by 1912; he built mines used in battles during
World War I while stationed in Norfolk and later moved to Indianapolis where he met
Gayle Stapp. He married Gayle and returned to Tarpon with her and their baby, Mary
Jane, in 1920. A 1918 city directory placed John Boyer's family at 215 West Lime,
though some of the older children had already left home. Captain John Boyer took a
number of children and church members from St. Ignatius Catholic Church to a picnic at
Pinder's Park on the Anclote River in March 1918. Among those in attendance were
Soledad Bonillas Parken (widow of Anson Safford, who had died in 1891), Anna Boyer,
Elizabeth Boyer, and young Joseph Boyer. Members of the excursion and picnic counted
at least seven alligators during their journey. Ina Victoria Boyer had moved to 1743
Boulevard Street in Jacksonville by 1918. By August of that year, she entered service as
34 See Carolynn A. Washbon's chapter in James J. Horgan and Lewis N. Wynne, Florida Decades: A
Sesquicentennial History (St. Leo, FL: St. Leo College Press, 1995), 55-67; Records of the Pinellas County
a nurse. She worked overseas during the months after the end of World War I. By June
1919, she returned to the United States and assisted physicians at Walter Reed General
Hospital until May 1920, about the time of her discharge.35
By 1919 or 1920, Joshua Boyer's cottage moved from its original site to 140 East
Orange Avenue. The rear-room additions came along with the original one-room cottage
and porch. Sanborn fire insurance maps from 1930 and 1945 indicate that the structure
sat in the middle of the property, not near the street corer like other neighboring
buildings. In fact, another building close to the street that shared the same address may
have partially obscured the right front corer of the patio. Although Tarpon Springs
possessed an electrical plant before other locations on the Pinellas Peninsula, the Boyer
Cottage remained without electrical wiring during its time at both locations.36
The Boyer family remained an important part of the growing Tarpon community
during the 1920s and 1930s. Joshua occasionally visited Pinellas County, such as when
he stayed with his brother, John, in April 1921. Captain John sailed family members
along the Anclote to the lighthouse on the Ina, a boat named after his daughter, during the
early 1920s. In March 1925, however, John Grey Boyer passed away. With his father's
burial at Cycadia Cemetery, D. P. Boyer became the leading member of the family in the
community. An alternate city judge since 1931, D. P. Boyer received an appointment to
serve as Tarpon's municipal judge in January 1933. "Dee" Boyer, as many in the
community knew him, also operated a successful Chevrolet dealership between 1923 and
1948. He served as president (1931-1932) and secretary (1929-1931, 1934-1935) of the
Tarpon Springs Rotary Club and had a reputation of never missing a meeting. As a civic
leader, D. P. Boyer also supported the Shriners. and led the Fernald-Millas Post of the
American Legion. With the support of a supervisor from the federal Reconstruction
Finance Corporation, his wife became the first social worker in the area. Unfortunately,
Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo, 21 June 1978,
35 See research files at Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo, and "Boyer, Ina Victoria," Available
from World War I Service Cards online at the Florida State Archives; Suncoast Shopper & News, 7
September 1977; (Tarpon Springs) Evening Leader, 18 March 1918.
36 Sanborn Map Company, Fire Insurance Maps: Florida (Teaneck, N.J. : Chadwyck-Healey, 1983),
February 1930 map, February 1945 map, microfilm reel 16
limited federal and state funds limited her ability to assist impoverished families in
Tarpon during her first years of service.37
Joshua Boyer made his final trip to Tarpon Springs in 1933. On May 16, at the
age of eighty-two, he passed away at his home in Eau Gallie, Brevard County. Within
two days, his body arrived for services at the Vinson Funeral Home. Rev. Louis J.
Richards of the Church of the Good Shepard led the ceremonies, which also included a
quartet that sang two hymns. City Judge D. P Boyer, B. J. Knowles, and Osmond
Knowles, all nephews of Josh Boyer, attended the funeral and oversaw the burial
alongside his brother, Captain John. Mary Ormond Boyer returned to Brevard County. At
the time of her death, she was buried in that county along with her father, A. W.
Did the Ormond Family Name Two Florida Cities?
While Mary Ormond Boyer probably gave Tarpon Springs its name, later claims
that she or father Alexander named the community of Ormond Beach seem implausible.
Josh Boyer's obituaries in the Tarpon Springs Leader and St. Petersburg Times claim that
Alexander W. Ormond established Ormond Beach after leaving Tarpon Springs. Most
accounts of the history of Ormond Beach in Volusia County consider Captain James
Ormond as the town's namesake. James Ormond came from the Bahamas to Florida
during the second Spanish period after receiving a land grant from the Spanish
government. Ormond, who apparently developed a 2,000-acre plantation in Florida, died
at the hands of a runaway slave circa 1815. Settlers to the coastline in Volusia County
had originally planned to name the settlement New Britain, after their hometown in
Connecticut. The name Ormond was chosen by April 1880, however, long before A. W.
Ormond settled in the area.39
37 Tarpon Springs Leader, 4 April 1921, 22 August 1921, 24 January 1933, 23 February 1940; Suncoast
Shopper & News, 7 September 1977. See chronology in: Rotary Club of Tarpon Springs, Florida USA:
75th Anniversary (Tarpon Springs: Rotary Club of Tarpon Springs, 2002).
38 St. Petersburg Times, 17 May 1933; Tarpon Springs Leader, 19 May 1933.
39 Tarpon Springs Leader, 19 May 1933; St. Petersburg Times, 17 May 1933; Allen Morris, Florida Place
Names (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1974), 116; Bloodworth, Places in the Sun, 55; Alfred
Jackson Hannah, A Prince in Their Midst: The Adventurous Life ofAchille Murat on the American Frontier
(Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946), 81.
A Small Cottage Not Forgotten
In the years after Boyer's death, members of his family passed away or moved to
other communities. The cottage, however, remained firmly perched in its new location
one block away from the business district. Although the small home seemed out of place
just a few steps away from Safford Avenue and the booming stores along Tarpon
Avenue, this simple cottage caught the eye of a young boy raised in a home across the
street, at 137 East Orange. Born in the Fourth of July in 1937, George D. Protos lived in
a family that treasured its Greek roots while celebrating the new opportunities offered in
America. Most sources credit the arrival of John Cocoris and his work with John
Cheyney for the transformation of the sponge-diving industry in Tarpon Springs. During
the early 1900s, Cocoris encouraged many divers to move from their ancestral islands
along the Mediterranean to harvest the treasures of the Gulf of Mexico. As a young man
with a strong interest in history, Protos needed only to look across Orange Avenue to see
a small wooden homestead that told a large story. He graduated from Tarpon Springs
High School, earned a pharmacy degree at the University of Florida, and returned to his
home across from the Boyer Cottage. By the mid-1960s, George married, started a
family, and continued to serve the community as a pharmacist, a director at St. Nicholas
Greek Orthodox Cathedral, a board president of the Sponge Exchange, and a member of
Tarpon's Old Timers Club.40
The Protos family maintained the building until 1978. By that time, George and
Anita Protos decided to donate the historic cottage to Heritage Village in Largo. They
had first checked to see if the City of Tarpon Springs had the financial resources to
preserve the structure before making their decision. Members of the Pinellas County
Historical Commission approved the plan to move the cottage at their meeting on 20
March 1978. About one month before the planned move of the Cottage, someone entered
the building and started a fire that gutted part of the interior. Although Commission
members expressed concern about the cottage's structural integrity, Park Director
Kendrick Ford reassured them that the charred inside rooms did not compromise the
building or weaken its foundation. In any case, the Boyer Cottage would have required
40 St. Petersburg Times, 25 September 2001.
demolition and rehabilitation whether or not the fire had occurred. The cost to move the
cottage remained at $2,500.41
In late April 1978, George and Anita Protos watched as the structure left the city
that sprang up around it. A future mayor of Tarpon Springs who shared her husband's
passion for their community, Anita Protos told a reporter that "the house looked like it
was crying. I'm happy, yet I'm sad." Restoration efforts focused on the original
fourteen-by-fourteen foot structure, and workers removed the subsequent additions.
George and Anita Protos took great pride as their daughter, Harriet, cut the ribbon at the
dedication of the Boyer Cottage at its new home in Heritage Village. Just as Joshua
Boyer saw the city of Tarpon spring up around his small cottage, the Protos family
witnessed how their efforts to preserve the cottage saved a large and important piece of
our county's history.42
41 Records of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo, 8
March 1978,21 June 1978; St. Petersburg Times, 30 April 1978.
42 Records of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo,
17 May 1978.
Greenwood House: A Brief Introduction
History of Site before House was Built
> Original location near Clear Water Harbor was close to early core of the small
community that evolved into present-day Clearwater.
> Built in the 1880s on Turner Street, near Clearwater's harbor.
> Originally designed as a three-room house, with bedroom and living room in the
front, and a dining room/kitchen area in the rear. Additions to the structure
(present-day kitchen, bathroom, and storage areas) appeared after the house
moved from Turner Street to 503 South Greenwood Avenue. Maps indicate that
some additions had occurred by October 1929.
History of Occupants
> Earliest recorded owners located to date: D. F. and Emma Crawford (through
February 1926). Leland and Nannie Waldrop acquired the house from the
Crawfords. Genealogical records link these families together. Other occupants
(possibly renters) before 1940 included Stephen and Carrie Griffith, Bartow and
Mattie Blanton, and William Maddox.
> Leland and Nannie Waldrop resided in the structure until 1943, when Louis and
Bernice Fulopp purchased the home.
> The Fulopp family owned the structure until sold to Rehabilitative Associates and
Clearwater Limb and Brace in 1982. Then located near a convenience store, the
property was better suited to commercial activities rather than use as a personal
residence. The new owners donated the house and moving costs so that the
Greenwood House could move to Heritage Village.
> For many years since its arrival at Heritage Village, the Greenwood House served
as the offices of the Pinellas County Historical Society. The kitchen area of the
building has served as a staging area for occasional events, such as Holiday
celebrations sponsored by the Historical Society.
Moving of the House to Heritage Village
> The building came to Heritage Village in poor condition. Walls and shared
fireplace are original. Floors and the roof required reconstruction. Vocational-
technical students did some of the work to restore the building.
> Shortly after the structure arrived in 1982, park leadership noted that the structure,
once restored, would serve as the offices for the Historical Society and also
provide small-group meeting space to take "a little pressure off the church."
The Greenwood House, a typical Gulf Coast wood frame vernacular cottage,
represents one of the earliest structures in the area of Clearwater. An unknown settler
constructed this three-room home in 1888, the year the Orange Belt Railway completed
its journey along the Pinellas Peninsula. At that time, less than twenty families lived in
the small settlement then known as "Clear Water Harbor." Originally located near the
waterfront on Turner Street, this home sat in an area close to what some may consider the
"birthplace" of Clearwater: The house occupied land near the former Fort Harrison, an
early outpost used during the Second Seminole War. Members of the pioneer Turner
family owned lands close to this house, and may have had some involvement with the
structure's early years.
Around 1910, the Greenwood House moved to 503 South Greenwood Avenue.
Now known as Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue, this north-south roadway served as a
boundary between the city and county as late as the 1940s. The first recorded owners of
the home, David Filmore and Emma Rebecca Crawford, sold the house in 1926 to
Emma's sister, Nannie, and her husband Leland G. Waldrop. The Waldrops worked
extensively on the house, adding a tin roof and additional rooms. They decided to sell the
property to Louis and Bernice Fulopp in 1943. Although residential developments had
started to encroach upon the neighborhoods surrounding the Greenwood House by that
time, the Fulopps continued to raise chickens and other animals on the property for many
In 1982, the Fulopps sold the dwelling to Rehabilitative Associates, Inc., and
Clearwater Limb and Brace. Learning of the house's history from Louis Fulopp,
company representatives approached Heritage Village with an offer to donate the house
and the cost of moving it in exchange for tax considerations. By 1982 and 1983,
vocational students restored the building while the Pinellas County Historical Society
provided the funds for materials and appliances. For nearly two decades, the Historical
Society has used the Greenwood House for its offices and as a storage area.
Pioneer Settlers in Clear Water Harbor before the Railroad Arrived
The first notable occupation of the area around downtown Clearwater occurred
during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). An outpost known as Fort Harrison sat
upon land in the present-day Harbor Oaks neighborhood. The large log cabin that served
as Fort Harrison occupied lands at the current intersection of Druid Road and Orange
Place. Used from April through October 1841, this facility also included quarters for
officers on property later owned by the Turner family, along Turner Street. An informal,
typewritten history of Clearwater by members of the city's woman's club placed the
officers' quarters on the exact site of the home once occupied by A. C. Turner. Unlike
Fort Brooke (Tampa), Fort King (Ocala), and other military stations, Fort Harrison
primarily served as a place for injured soldiers to recuperate rather than as a defensive
Settlers arrived in the Clearwater area after 1842 to take advantage of the Armed
Occupation Act. Passed by Congress near the end of the Second Seminole War, this law
encouraged citizens to move to the sparsely-populated areas of the West Coast and
central Florida. Twenty years before the well-known Homestead Act of 1862, the Armed
Occupation Act permitted settlers to claim tracts of land in areas formerly controlled by
Seminole Indians and thereby serve as a buffer between remaining bands of Indians to the
south and the growing agricultural enterprises of Middle Florida. Early residents, such as
Odet Philippe's family and the McMullens, soon shared the Pinellas Peninsula with the
Booths, Coachmans, Taylors, Turners, Whitehursts, and other pioneer families. Many
consider James Stevens "the father of Clearwater" because he submitted the first of
approximately 1,300 land claims in the area. According to the historical account
produced by the woman's club, Stevens took possession of lands west of Fort Harrison
Avenue (Alternate U.S. Highway 19) between Drew and Jeffords. Stevens soon
persuaded John S. Taylor, Sr.-a friend of his who owned property in Brooksville-to
acquire land south of Clearwater. A couple of early narratives about the Clearwater
region claim that Taylor, a slave owner at the time, made an interesting offer on some of
the land: Allegedly, one of Taylor's female slaves had attempted to harm him and his
family by poisoning their coffee. Taylor supposedly traded this woman for some of
Stevens's land. Thus, according to the typewritten narrative from the woman's club, "the
greater part of Clearwater once sold for a (N)egro woman, and a very unamiable one at
that." David B. Turner arrived in 1854, soon joined Robert J. Whitehurst in acquiring
Taylor's property, and created the area's first post office by 1859. Whitehurst operated
the post office after the end of the Civil War. By the late 1870s, the few settlers in the
area visited the Turner family's log house that served as a local mercantile store. For the
record, an examination of W. L. Straub's 1929 History ofPinellas County and the 1917
typewritten history by the Woman's Club of Clearwater proves that Straub liberally
copied from the earlier document.2
The settlement at "Clear Water Harbor"-as it was then named-remained quiet
and remote until the arrival of the Orange Belt Railway in early 1888. Provisions, mail,
and other materials generally came either from Tampa or Cedar Keys. With few primitive
roads in the region, citrus, cotton, and other agricultural products from the area traveled
by boat to Tampa, Cedar Keys, or St. Marks. The Whitehurst and Turner families grew
oranges and grapefruits. Early residents also cultivated corn and sweet potatoes.
Livestock roamed freely along the range. In addition, while the waters offered a bounty
of fish throughout the year, during mullet season "at low tide the men could walk out and
kick them ashore; the women scooped up aprons full at a time." By 15 September 1877,
the area had attracted enough settlers that the "pioneer" citizens of the time decided to
create an Immigration Committee at Clear Water Harbor "for the purpose of protecting
society in this vicinity, and to assist immigrants) of good character in making suitable
locations. The members of this committee will furnish all needful information to any
worthy applicant for same."3
The railroad brought settlers to the area in greater numbers. Early histories of the
region indicate that Clear Water Harbor had only about eighteen families when the
Orange Belt Railway first came to the area in 1888. The town incorporated in 1891, and
William L. Straub, History ofPinellas County, Florida: Narrative and Biographical (St. Augustine: The
Record Company, 1929), 91; History Committee, Woman's Club of Clearwater, A History of Clearwater,
Florida by the Woman's Club of Clearwater (Clearwater: Clearwater Evening Sun, 1917), 2.
2 Lisa Coleman, Clearwater, Images of America Series (Charleston: S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2002), 7;
William L. Straub, History ofPinellas County, 91-92; Woman's Club of Clearwater, A History of
by the mid-1890s, workers had paved parts of Cleveland Street and Fort Harrison Avenue
with shells from a nearby Indian mound. By the late 1890s, the community had grown
into a substantial settlement, with Henry Plant's nearby Belleview Biltmore attracting
seasonal visitors along the railroad line. The municipality's name evolved as more
settlers moved into the area. By 1895, Clear Water Harbor became "Clearwater Harbor,"
and the "Harbor" officially disappeared from the city's name by 1906.4
An Early Gulf Coast Cottage on the Central Pinellas Frontier
Much of the Greenwood House's early history remains shrouded in mystery. Built
as a three-room structure circa 1888, the house originally sat along present-day Turner
Street near Clear Water Harbor. The home occupied an area close to the site of the
officers' quarters of Fort Harrison, and about two blocks from the original fort. If built in
1888 as generally believed, the Greenwood House represents one of the earliest structures
in Clearwater. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the occupants of the home before it
moved to Greenwood circa 1910. One may speculate that the families living in the
building used it as their primary residence, because few wealthy seasonal visitors would
have stayed in a smaller home. The occupants may have engaged in agricultural activities
or fishing during the early years, but participated in other non-agricultural vocations as
the City of Clearwater grew around them. The shared fireplace between the bedroom and
living room indicates a more sophisticated structure than the simpler log cabins or
smaller cottages (such as the Boyer Cottage of Tarpon) often built during the late 1800s.
The Greenwood House's original proximity to the Turner property certainly
merits further investigation. Ernest Dibble's 1982 research into Pinellas County property
records failed to locate any transactions of the Greenwood House between 1912 and
1926. A cursory examination of Hillsborough County records also provided little
information, though additional cross-referencing of Turner's original land claim with
subsequent land plats granted by the 1890s may reveal new information. For example,
many of the properties along Turner Street carry the short legal description "Turner's, A.
C." first appearing in plat books circa 1892. With fewer than twenty families in the
3 Woman's Club of Clearwater, A History of Clearwater, 3-5, 26; Straub, History ofPinellas County, 92.
4 Woman's Club of Clearwater, A History of Clearwater, 6; Straub, History ofPinellas County, 93.
immediate area of Clear Water Harbor at the time of the Greenwood House's
construction, it may be possible that Turner or another pioneer family had an original
interest in the property that they maintained for many years, until circa 1910.5
While additional research may prove or disprove a direct connection between the
Turners and the Greenwood House, occupants of the structure certainly knew about the
many contributions of the Turner family. David B. and Mary Campbell Turner lived in
Madison County, Florida, during the early 1840s. While there, Mary gave birth to A. C.
(Arthur Campbell) Turner on 26 February 1844. The Turners moved to Benton County,
in the area now part of Hernando County, from 1848 until 1850. After relocating to
Tampa, the Turners settled at or near Indian Rocks Beach by December 1851. They later
relocated to the area that became Clear Water Harbor. David became the first postmaster
of a post office along the Pinellas Peninsula, at a location close to the original site of the
Greenwood House. Straub's History of Pinellas County described the circuitous route of
the weekly mail deliveries from Middle Florida. During the 1850s, the weekly parcels
first traveled to Alligator (now known as Lake City) by stagecoach, then by steamer
along the Suwannee River with a stop at Cedar Keys before arriving at Clear Water
Harbor. During the Civil War, both David and A. C. Turner joined a military company
organized by James McMullen known as the "Home Guards." After an interruption of
mail service during the Civil War, A. C. Turner followed in his father's footsteps by
serving as postmaster from 1874 until 1885. By the 1880s, he also operated a small
mercantile store for the settlers in the area. Turner printed issues of the Hillsborough
Times on a small hand press he had acquired from Edgar and Joel McMullen, and later
served as a Hillsborough County commissioner representing the central Pinellas
Peninsula during the 1887-1888 and 1907-1908 terms. Before his death, A. C. Turner had
married three times, and bore twenty children. By the early 1900s, A. C. Turner's family
became a prominent part of Clearwater's society.6
The home probably moved from Turner Street to 503 South Greenwood (now
Martin Luther King, Jr.) Avenue at a time when waterfront construction, rising property
values, and massive redevelopment of the nearby downtown may have made this simple
5 Memo from Ernest F. Dibble to Heritage Village, 6 May 1982, located in building research files,
Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo.
cottage appear out of place. Larger and more ornate homes appeared along the bluffs
during the first decade of the 1900s, such as David N. Starr's Seven Gables, a winter
home completed in 1907 that also resides at Heritage Village. Laborers probably
transported the home due east along Turner, and placed it on the second plot of land just
northeast of the intersection of Turner and Greenwood. Tragic events along Cleveland
Street during the summer of 1910 marked an important turning point in Clearwater's
young history that may have possibly played a role, though this remains speculation at
best. During the early morning hours of 24 June 1910, a fire swept across and destroyed
most of the wooden buildings along the north side of Cleveland Street in the downtown
area between Fort Harrison Avenue and Osceola Avenue. As city leaders created a
volunteer fire brigade to guard against future conflagrations, merchants and property
owners along Cleveland Street replaced their wooden tinderboxes with block and
concrete structures. Thus, one may speculate that the Greenwood House moved from
docks near Turner to the boondocks along Greenwood as the building frenzy sparked a
renaissance in downtown Clearwater.7
The Greenwood House Grows, as Families Come and Go
The Crawford family represents the earliest known residents of the Greenwood
House. David Filmore and Emma Rebecca Crawford moved to Pinellas Peninsula by the
1920 census. David, a native of Kentucky born 20 February 1866, married a woman also
from Kentucky who did not appear in census records. They became a couple by about
1890, moved to Alabama, and had three children: Edna (born circa 1891), Frank (born
circa 1893), and Hall Crawford (born circa 1895). By the late 1890s-possibly 1898-
David F. Crawford married his second wife, Edna R. Griffith, a native of Alabama. The
family apparently lived in Alabama during the first decade of the twentieth century, with
1910 census records placing David, Emma, and the three children in Bessemer City,
Alabama. At the time, forty-three year old David worked as a track supervisor for a
railroad company. By February 1920, David and Emma Crawford lived in southern
Clearwater, where he worked as a farmer in an orange grove and both of them became
6 Straub, History ofPinellas County, 481-482; Woman's Club of Clearwater, A History of Clearwater, 4.
7 Coleman, Clearwater, 31; Woman's Club of Clearwater, A History of Clearwater, 8.
active members in the local Methodist church. The Crawfords made acquaintances with
members of the McMullen family. The three children lived outside of the Greenwood
House by that time. An abundance of nearby citrus trees along the outskirts of Clearwater
provided steady employment during the fruit-harvesting season for Crawford. On 16
February 1926, the Waldrops of Alabama acquired the Greenwood House from the
Crawfords. After the Crawfords sold the Greenwood House in early 1926, they
apparently moved to a residence along Turner Street valued at about $5,000. There, at the
age of sixty-four, Crawford worked as a fruit grower on a grove. He and wife Emma also
hired a seventeen-year old Tennessee native to act as their live-in "servant," Juanita
Agee. Pallbearers at Emma's funeral in October 1943 included E. R. Turner and Dr. Byrd
McMullen. After his wife's death, David Crawford moved to Tampa and later spent the
last two years of his life at the Masonic Home in St. Petersburg. He died on 26 March
Family ties between the Crawfords and the Waldrops merit further investigation.
While available census records failed to give Emma Crawford's maiden name, her 1943
obituary mentions a brother, H. A. Griffith of Alabama, and a sister, "Mrs. L. G.
Walldrop" of Clearwater as survivors. The Crawfords had sold the Greenwood House on
16 February 1926 to Leland Gordon Waldrop and his wife, Nannie Griffith Waldrop.
Thus, a cross-reference of census records and obituaries proved that David and Emma
Crawford sold the house to Emma's sister and brother-in-law. The oldest of six children
born to Almus Baxter and Maturia Victoria Griffin Waldrop, L. G. Waldrop entered the
world on 7 November 1873 at the family homestead in Shelby County, Alabama. His
parents lived much of their lives in Jefferson County, Alabama, where his two brothers
and three sisters were born. Leland married Nannie Griffith, also a native of Alabama,
probably on 21 November 1899. Leland's career with the railroads sent him and Nannie
throughout the South. During the 1910 census-while David Crawford worked as a track
supervisor on Leland's home turf of Jefferson County, Alabama-Leland rented a home
in Sheffield, Alabama, where he served as a railway official. By 1920, Leland and Nannie
lived in Belmont Heights (Davidson County), Tennessee, and he listed his occupation as
8 Census records described in this narrative reside in building files located at Heritage Village Library and
Archives, Largo; Ernest Dibble memo. Emma R. Crawford's October 1943 obituary claimed she had lived
railroad superintendent. After purchasing the Greenwood House, L. G. and Nannie
Waldrop still spent most of their time outside of Florida. As late as 1930, they rented a
home valued at $5,950 in Nashville, where Leland continued to work as a superintendent
for a railroad company. While Emma and Nannie connect the Crawford and Waldrop
families as owners of the Greenwood House, further research of the similar paths taken
by David and Leland in the railroad industry during the early twentieth century might
also uncover heretofore unknown connections.9
The Greenwood House remained in an undeveloped area east of Clearwater until
the early 1940s. Sanborn maps from October 1929 and 1949 show the structure on the
east side of South Greenwood Avenue, between Chestnut (now Court) and Turner streets.
Less than one block away at 423 South Greenwood sat a Church of God for African-
American parishioners that changed its name to Emanuel Tabernacle by the 1940s.
Steven (or Stephen) O. Griffith-nephew of sisters Emma and Nannie-lived or oversaw
tenants at the Greenwood House in 1931 with his wife, Carrie M. At the time of David
Crawford's death, an obituary noted that David's nephew, S. O. Griffith, had moved to
St. Petersburg. Here again, further research of the Griffith family may reveal new
connections. The only "S. O. Griffith" located in St. Petersburg at the time was a Steven
Oscar Griffith, who lived with his wife "Mayme" at 1521 19t" Avenue South. As early
as 1926, this Griffith worked as a firefighter in St. Petersburg. By 1930, he became a
lieutenant and Mayme worked as a waitress at the Peoples Quick Lunch restaurant on 627
Central Avenue. During that year, they lived at 1212 Highland Street North, in St.
Petersburg. They remained at their Highland Street home in 1931-the same year a
Stephen O. and Carrie M. Griffith supposedly occupied the Greenwood House. It is
possible, though still conjecture that the Griffiths may have served as landlords for the
Greenwood House while living in St. Petersburg. The Griffiths moved from Highland
Street to Nineteenth Avenue South by 1933. Aside from a stint in the United States Coast
in Clearwater for twenty-three years. See: St. Petersburg Times, 22 October 1943, 27 March 1949.
9 Ibid. Additional information on the Waldrop family came from information located on Ancestry Plus,
http://awt.ancestry.com. Records supplied by the Waldrop family place the marriage of Leland and Nannie
Waldrop on 21 November 1889, which would have made Leland sixteen and Nannie only twelve years of
age. While "child brides" remained common in rural areas well into the late 1800s, self-reported
information from census records has Leland's age at or about twenty-six and Nannie at or about twenty-two
when they exchanged vows. Thus, they probably married on 21 November 1899, with the first reported
date representing a typographical error.
Guard during World War II, this S. O. Griffith rose from lieutenant, to assistant fire chief,
and ultimately fire chief (during the 1950s and early 1960s) of the City of St. Petersburg.
Additional genealogical research may indicate whether Stephen O. Griffith of the
Crawford/Waldrop families is the same Steven O. Griffith who led the St. Petersburg Fire
Department (also, was Carrie M. Griffith's middle name or nickname "Mayme"?).10
Although they did not live year-round in Clearwater at the time, the Waldrops
made substantial changes to the house during the 1920s and 1930s. L. G. Waldrop added
rooms to the house (the :present-day sewing room, bathroom, and kitchen areas) by
extending the roof along the back and one side. A "buggy shed" on the property had at
one time served as a garage for carts and other vehicles. This structure may have arrived
with the house circa 1910. Waldrop removed the wood shingles from the house and
shed-probably during the 1930s-when he placed metal roofs on both structures. He
used some of the wooden shingles to cover walls of the buggy shack.'"
The Waldrops rented the Greenwood House to tenants before they retired to
Clearwater in 1941. For example, Bartow Z. and Mattie M. Blanton rented the home by
1934. The Blantons had two sons, Palmer A. and Percy P., and operated Blanton's
Market at 301 South Fort Harrison. They lived in the home until at least 1937. By 1939,
William M. Maddox, a shipping clerk, moved into the Greenwood House. He may have
wanted to live in close proximity to a Charles M. Maddox, who then occupied 506 South
Greenwood. The 1941 Clearwater city directory revealed that Leland and Nannie
Waldrop had finally moved into their house by that year.12
The Fulopp Family Moves to Florida and Acquires the House
The Fulopps purchased the Greenwood House from Nannie Waldrop on 8 May
1943 and held it for the next thirty-nine years. Louis and Bernice Fulopp first settled in
'o Sanbom Map Company, Fire Insurance Maps: Florida (Teaneck, N.J.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1983), April
1904 map, microfilm reel 1; St. Petersburg Times, 27 March 1949; an examination of R.L. Polk's city
directories for Clearwater and St. Petersburg provided useful information about the occupants of this
structure and S. O. Griffith.
" "Greenwood House," undated memorandum from Rehabilitative Associates, Inc., located in building
site files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo; summary transcript of interview with Bob Fulopp,
conducted at Heritage Village, 2003, a copy of which appears in building files, Heritage Village Library
and Archives, Largo.
12 See available issues of: R.L. Polk's Clearwater (Pinellas County, Fla.) City Directory.
Pinellas County in 1940. A native of Czechoslovakia born on 20 June 1903, Louis had
also resided at the Isle of Pines, Cuba. Handy with tools, he became a molder at the
Rotary Juice Press in downtown Clearwater by 1944. Before retiring, Louis also worked
on foundries for Clearwater-based Aerosonic, Inc. He married Bernice, a native of
Pasadena, California, born on 23 July 1906. While Louis practiced Catholicism, Bernice
joined the First United Methodist Church after they settled in the city. They shared the
home with three children, Adrienne ("Dede"), Yvonne, and Robert. As a young man,
Kendrick Ford, former director of Heritage Village, knew "Dede" as a friend and
A recent interview with Robert Fulopp revealed details about the interior of the
Greenwood House. During the school year, the three children did their homework at a
table in the living room. The parents often listened to the radio in the living room; after
the family purchased a television, the children had an incentive to finish their homework
quickly so they could watch the tube. A telephone table sat in the far corer of the room,
away from the porch and doorway. Bernice, Adrienne, and Yvonne often played the
piano. As father, Louis had his own chair that "nobody would dare sit in" whenever he
was at home. Other family members shared a couch perched alongside the living room
window. Parents Louis and Bernice slept in the original bedroom. Bob remembers that
his father often kept the window open during cool winter nights to remind himself of
Czechoslovakia, forcing Bernice to cover herself with quilts to keep warm. The present
kitchen area of the Greenwood House served as the daughters' bedroom and storage area
for pantry goods, while Bob slept in the small room next to the dining area and adjacent
to the living room. The kitchen and bathroom occupied the far right corer of the
building. The family used the kerosene stove in the kitchen to cook meals and help heat
the home during cold winter evenings. Lacking a water heater, the Fulopps had to heat
kettles of water in order to take warm baths.14
Bob Fulopp also described the property and the "buggy shed." Living in a semi-
rural area, the Fulopps raised chickens in their yard. Louis purchased "a couple dozen"
chickens from a feed store located on Park Street each year. Young Bob's chores
13 Ibid.; St. Petersburg Times, 21 March 1997, 10 February 1998; interview of Ken Ford, former director
of Heritage Village, by Stephanie Ferrell and Jim Schnur, 3 May 2003, Heritage Village, Largo;
included feeding the chickens, providing them water, and collecting eggs. During his
conversation, he recalled that he often grew fond of the fowl and became sick in the
stomach when it came time to slaughter the chickens for food. One year, Louis brought
home a small chicken that had a bad leg. Robert named the bird "Benny" and kept it as a
pet. Benny followed Bob around the yard, and Bob kept her away from his father's
hatchet and the dinner table. Benny, who once laid an egg while sitting on Bob's lap, died
on a summer day when Bob began a trip to Tallahassee. Bob remembers that his mother
often made shirts for him out of chicken feed sacks. He and his friends spent many
afternoons playing in a bamboo thicket, until he encountered a rattlesnake. After that, he
remembered exercising a great deal of caution whenever a ball landed in the bamboo. For
awhile, the family owned a goat that Yvonne cared for and fed. Seven Australian pines
provided shade in front of the house along Greenwood. The property also included
hedges, two camphor trees, a persimmon tree, holly, a jacaranda, and other shrubs. The
"buggy shed" already sat on the property when the Fulopps purchased the Greenwood
House from the Waldrops. Since they had neither a buggy nor an automobile when they
moved into the house, the Fulopps originally stored their bicycles and other possessions
in this shed. When a neighboring parcel changed hands, surveyors learned that the garage
crossed over the Fulopp's property line, leading the family to demolish the buggy shed.5
A Rehabilitative Move
Louis and Bernice Fulopp decided to sell their home along South Greenwood in
1982. Then in their late seventies, they may have wanted to move to a quieter residential
setting. Since at least 1973, the property north of their home-at the southeast comer of
Greenwood and Court Street-had operated as a convenience store (most of that time as a
7-Eleven). Address directories from the early 1990s placed Louis Fulopp at 1546
Simmons Drive, in the Belleair Park Estates subdivision one block west of Lake Drive,
between Nursery and Belleair roads. Records of the Pinellas County Property Appraiser's
office available electronically indicate that their vintage 1968 home was purchased for
$60,000 in November 1981. With their son living in Georgia and daughters nearby, the
14 Summary transcript of interview with Bob Fulopp.
Fulopps decided to sell the Greenwood House in early 1982 to Rehabilitative Associates,
Inc., and Clearwater Limb and Brace. During discussions with Rehabilitative Associates,
Louis Fulopp told Dr. Donna J. Rodriguez-that company's executive director-about
the house's earlier history. Fulopp mentioned to Rodriguez that "Mrs. Hart of Hart
Cleaners" was born in the Greenwood House. As the Fulopps settled into their new home
on Simmons Drive, leadership at Rehabilitative Associates contacted Heritage Village
about the possibility of moving the structure. Meanwhile, the Fulopps enjoyed their final
years of their sixty-five year marriage at their home on Simmons Drive. Bernice passed
away on 21 March 1997, and Louis joined her in eternal rest on 7 February 1998.16
The owners of Rehabilitative Associations, Inc., and Clearwater Limb and Brace
donated the Greenwood House to Heritage Village in early 1982. These entities also paid
the moving expenses as part of a tax write-off. Due to the presence of other structures on
the western and southern boundaries of Heritage Village, movers had to bring the
Greenwood House onto the property along Walsingham Road behind the site of the
Safford Pavilion, a structure that arrived in pieces from Tarpon Springs in May 1982.
Members of the Pinellas County Historical Commission discussed possible uses for the
Greenwood House at their 19 May 1982 meeting. Director Kendrick Ford told
commissioners that plans called for the Pinellas County Historical Society (PCHS) to use
the structure for storage and office space after restoration, and that the building may also
offer a venue for smaller meetings in order to take "a little pressure off the [Safety
Harbor] church." Ford added that the Historical Society had already discussed the
possibility of refurbishing the back room as a kitchen for events at the park. By
November 1982, administrators at the Pinellas County Vocational Technical Institute
approved a plan to allow students to assist with the restoration. The Historical Society
covered the cost of materials required during this project, estimated at $7,000-8,000. This
total included funds for appliances and a central air conditioning system. While workers
replaced the tin roof with wooden shingles similar in form to the original rooftop, PCHS
leaders formed a "Greenwood House Committee" in early 1983 that selected items and
16 "Greenwood House," undated memorandum from Rehabilitative Associates, Inc., located in building
site files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo; St. Petersburg Times, 21 March 1997, 10 February
1998. For information of the Fulopp's house on Simmons Drive (Pinellas County parcel number:
23/29/15/07092/000/170), visit: http://www.pao.co.pinellas.fl.us.
furnishings for the restored structure. Park employees cut out the opening between the
dining room and the kitchen area. The walls of the original three rooms required little
work, though vocational students and other workers had to replace some of the tongue
and groove planking of the floors. Society officers established their headquarters in the
building after workers completed the rehabilitation.17
17 Records of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo, 19
May 1982, 17 November 1982, 16 February 1983, 18 May 1983; Ken Ford interview; "A Short History of
the Greenwood House," undated memorandum, located in building files at Heritage Village Library and
Harris School Replica: A Brief Introduction
History of Site before Actual Structure was Built
> Original school built in eastern Lealman community at 4600 Haines Road.
> In the early 1900s, the Lealman area had few settlers and remained decidedly
rural in character.
> Earlier schools in Lealman area (but not on the same site) included the
"Hammock" School (opened 1880), Lealman School Number One (built 1898),
and Lealman School Number Two (replaced thel898 structure in 1908).
Construction Information for Original Structure's Namesake
> Named in honor of William Beasley "Uncle Bill" Harris, who served as a school
trustee for fourteen years and as a county commissioner for fourteen years.
> Harris's maternal grandfather was Elza B. Lealman, a Georgia native and early
settler along the Pinellas peninsula who is the namesake of the unincorporated
> In November 1901, Harris married Mary Ellen "Mamie" McMullen, eldest of
John James McMullen's ten children.
> Willam and Mary Ellen (Eleanor) Harris had six children who endured long
horse-and-buggy journeys to distant schools.
> Harris cultivated citrus and helped to develop roads and internal improvements in
the Lealman area.
> Daughter Myrtle Elsie Harris later served as a teacher and principal at Lealman
Avenue Elementary during the early 1930s (a different school).
> "Uncle Bill" died on the evening of Halloween 1940. Colleagues on the county
commission promptly expressed their grief at his passing.
History of Use
> Harris recruited volunteer labor and donated land and money for the school.
> Harris School fell under Special School Tax District Seven, the Lealman district.
> Classes began at the school in 1912 and continued through 1923.
> Replica at Heritage Village resembles building as it was originally constructed.
> By late 1910s, school officials modified the structure to include indoor flush
toilets, a workroom, and a larger blackboard.
> Overcrowding of school by early 1920s (as enrollment approached forty students)
led school officials to replace this structure and construct new buildings on the
Significant Events/Activities at the Structure and in the Surrounding Community
> The Harris School served children of remote areas in eastern Lealman.
> By 1916-as a way of teaching agricultural skills to students in rural schools-
Superintendent Dixie M. Hollins launched a "Pig Club" in many schools.
Students in this club learned how to cultivate crops and raise pigs during summer
months and lulls in the citrus growing and tourist seasons. Frank Maurice Harris,
one of "Uncle Bill" Harris's sons, participated in the Pig Club.
> Enrollment at school increased as infrastructure improvements and the "good
roads movement" brought more residents into eastern Lealman.
> Construction on a replacement building occurred as the 1912 structure
experienced overcrowding. During the 1924-1925 academic year, enrollment in
the "new" Harris School soared to over 100 pupils.
Creation of the Replica at Heritage Village
> As early as May 1980, park management planned to construct or (preferably)
relocate a schoolhouse to Heritage Village.
> An examination of former school buildings in Ozona, Dunedin, and elsewhere
failed to locate an appropriate (and ready-to-move) structure. Park leaders looked
at least as far as Walton County, Florida, for a suitable structure.
> Planned as a partnership project between Heritage Village, the Board of County
Commissioners, and the Pinellas County School Board.
> Don Williams's architectural firm, students at the Vocational-Technical
Education Center, and other partners assisted with the supplies and labor for
construction of the replica.
> Constructed in 1987 to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Pinellas
County's independence and the county school system.
> Book closet in Harris School replica came from old Largo High School building,
once located on the present site of the Pinellas County Schools administrative
The Harris School replica at Heritage Village, constructed in 1987,
commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of Pinellas County's independence and the
beginnings of the Pinellas County school system. This structure also recognizes the
creative labors of William Beasley "Uncle Bill" Harris, a longtime resident of the
Pinellas peninsula who served fourteen years as a school trustee and fourteen years as a
county commissioner. Through a partnership between the school board and the Pinellas
County Board of Commissioners, county officials commissioned Williams Architects
Chartered Ltd. to draw plans to recreate the one-room schoolhouse originally located at
4600 Haines Road.
The first Harris School served the Lealman community from 1912 until 1923.
With volunteer labor and materials donated from the community, Harris oversaw
construction of this one-room boarded structure. As one of its earliest official duties, the
newly-formed Pinellas County Board of Public Instruction provided seats and desks for
the structure. By the early 1920s, enrollment rose from fifteen students to nearly forty.
During its eleven years of service, school officials also redesigned the structure with an
addition near the portico that provided indoor water flush toilets, a workroom, and more
space for a larger blackboard. A nearby windmill sat to the rear of the school building,
along the west side of Haines Road. Despite these improvements, the school's physical
plant could not accommodate the growing number of school-age children who lived in
the area as the land boom brought new settlers to Pinellas County. Classes came to an
end at the original Harris School in 1923. The following year, a new Harris School-
with space for six teachers-opened on the site.'
Pioneer Settlers and Education in the Lealman Area
The unincorporated Lealman community derives its name from Elza (Elsey)
Beazley Lealman. Natives of Georgia, Lealman and his wife, Elenor, settled in Hamilton
Pinellas County, Board of Public Instruction, The Golden Anniversary ofPinellas Schools, Celebrating 50
Years of Educational Progress: Superintendent's Semi-centennial Report, 1912-1962 (St. Petersburg:
Modern Printing & Publishing, 1962), 14, 49; Senior Voice Newspaper, January 1987. The seats and desks
in the Harris School replica are not from the original structure.
County by the late 1840s as farmers. Sarah, their daughter, was born in northern Florida
about 1849, probably on the farmstead. Records indicate that Lealman purchased land in
Florida as early as 1 April 1859, when he acquired a 40.07 acre tract from the
Newnansville land office in Alachua County. Sarah Lealman later married James W.
Harris, who was also a native of northern Florida. In 1873, James and Sarah Harris had a
son, William, while living in Suwannee County. A few years later, they moved to the
Pinellas peninsula, where they homesteaded on a parcel about 5 /2 miles north of present-
day downtown St. Petersburg. Thus, W. B. Harris-whose patronage of the Harris
School benefited early settlers in Lealman-can claim that community's namesake as his
Although parts of Haines Road pass through St. Petersburg and the boundary
between the city and unincorporated county appears transparent today, early settlers in
the Lealman area truly lived in a remote, rural setting. Before the "good roads
movement" reached the Pinellas peninsula in the late 1910s and early 1920s, many areas
of unincorporated Lealman seemed far removed from the new city of St. Petersburg. A
primitive structure known as the "Hammock" School opened in 1880 as the earliest
school building in the Lealman area. The school operated out of a house once owned by a
man named Hammock. Students sat on split-log benches added to the simple home,
where Mary Marston earned $15 per month plus boarding expenses to offer a three-
month term of classes. 3
Lealman School Number One, constructed in 1898, marked the first formal
schoolhouse in the Lealman area. J. C. Williams, a St. Petersburg entrepreneur and son of
"General" John Constantine Williams, donated an acre of land for the school site with the
stipulation that Lealman residents would receive support from Hillsborough County to
construct the one-room frame schoolhouse. Kate Blanton served as the first teacher. For
2 United States Census Office, Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States, 1850,
Florida (Washington: National Archives, 1964). Digital images from many census records are also
available through genealogical databases, such as http://www.ancestry.com. W. L. Straub, History of
Pinellas County, Florida (St. Augustine: The Record Co., 1929), 317; St. Petersburg Times, 31 October
1940; Clearwater Sun, 31 October 1940. According to obituaries appearing in the Clearwater Sun and the
St. Petersburg Times, W. B. Harris first came to the Pinellas peninsula in 1878 when five years of age.
Straub's History ofPinellas County, however, claims that Harris first arrived in 1876, when three years of
3 Golden Anniversary of Pinellas Schools, 10.
the next ten years, this small structure built near the present-day intersection of 42nd
Avenue and 46th Street North served the students of the Lealman frontier. By 1908,
community members auctioned this original structure and secured $840 from the school
district trustees for a new building. Lealman residents provided the labor, and classes
soon began at Lealman School Number Two, located on the same site as the recently sold
1898 building. This two-room building had a removable partition to separate the pupils.
Students in the front room enjoyed factory made desks and seats, while students in the
other room used the older hand-made furniture from the 1898 school. In 1917, five years
after Pinellas County's independence, authorities approved the construction of a stucco
building known as Lealman-Clearview School. After the October 1921 hurricane
destroyed the bridge to Seminole near Long Bayou, enrollment at Lealman-Clearview
grew. By 1922, the school employed Gladys Walsingham as an "assistant teacher" to
work with the new students. To accommodate continued growth in the unincorporated
area, the school board purchased a ten-acre parcel for $40,000 in December 1925 near
present-day 41st Avenue and 35h Street North that became the site of Lealman Junior
High (now Lealman Intermediate). Classes began at the junior high in September 1927.
By 1931, a newly-constructed Clearview Avenue Elementary replaced the 1917 stucco
structure as enrollment continued to increase.4
The Harris Family and the 1912 Schoolhouse
W. B. Harris married into a Pinellas pioneer family when he exchanged vows
with Mary Ellen (or Eleanor) "Mamie" McMullen on 11 November 1901 in a ceremony
held in the Largo area. Mary McMullen, born in Largo on 27 May 1881, was the eldest
of ten children born to John James McMullen (born on the McMullen homestead near
Coachman on 15 October 1853) and Joseph Drayton "Jo" Ramage McMullen (born in
Ocala on 11 November 1857). Shortly after their wedding, William and Mary Harris
established a family at their home in the Lealman area. They celebrated the arrival of six
children: Frank Maurice (the eldest, born in 1902), Edna Gertrude, Vera (Verne) Claire,
Myrtle Elsie, and twins Orville S. and William August. By the end of the first decade of
4 Ibid., 11-15, 55, 57; Patricia Perez Costrini, ed., A Tradition ofExcellence, Pinellas County Schools:
1912-1987 (Clearwater: Pinellas County School Board, 1987), 84-85.
the 1900s, either Harris or his wife had to endure the daily journey by horse and buggy to
Lealman School Number Two so that their eldest children could attend classes. With his
growing business interests in St. Petersburg, Harris soon grew tired of the trek along
unimproved roads and paths to the distant school. Hoping to see his children gain an
education closer to home, Harris took matters into his own hands, recruited volunteer
labor, and donated land and money for the construction of a one-room schoolhouse for
children who lived on the outskirts of St. Petersburg.5
Classes at Harris School began in 1912, the same year that the Pinellas peninsula
gained its independence from Hillsborough County. Fifteen pupils-including Harris's
children-attended the first term of classes taught by Rosa Kilgore. During its early
years, the school lacked indoor plumbing, water, or toilet facilities; workrooms or storage
areas; and an adequate blackboard. Indeed, the replica at Heritage Village portrays the
structure as originally constructed, without subsequent improvements. While county
coffers provided a minimum foundation for schools, local areas and municipalities
established special school tax districts as a way to supplement county expenditures. In his
January 1916 report that reviewed the first four years of the Pinellas school system,
Superintendent Dixie M. Hollins fondly described the "Will Harris" School in Special
School Tax District Seven-the Lealman district-as a modernr one-room building,
erected after a model exhibited at the St. Louis exposition." By early 1916, both Harris
School and Lealman School Number Two had enclosed fences, improved schoolyards,
and small library collections. Both operated for eight-month terms and each had
graduated students from the eighth grade during the 1914-1915 academic year.6
While Superintendent Dixie Hollins touted the progress of Pinellas schools since
independence from Hillsborough, many of the earlier educational traditions remained.
Despite the growth of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, and other
municipalities along the peninsula, the county's character remained decidedly rural and
agricultural. Educators, realizing that many citrus and tourist-related jobs disappeared
5 Genealogical information from McMullen biographical files at Heritage Village and "Ancestry World
Tree: Lineage of Allen Martin and Related Families," Ancestry Plus, http://awt.ancestry.com. See also: St.
Petersburg Times, 31 October 1940, 3 March 1964; Straub, History of Pinellas County, 317; Senior Voice
Newspaper, January 1987.
6 Golden Anniversary ofPinellas Schools, 14; Largo Sentinel, 13 January 1916.
during the summer months, sought a solution to keep boys and young men from
becoming too idle as the school year came to an end. Hollins had a solution: After
talking with several community leaders, he approached the school board with a plan to
organize a Pig Club for boys throughout the county. According to Hollins's plan,
bankers and members of the business community would advance funds to allow the
school district to buy a number of pigs and give them to boys throughout the county.7
[Each participant] will agree to repay, when he disposes of
his hog, the cost of the pig with the usual rate of interest on
the money, and will agree to raise in the aggregate one-half
acre in various crops with which to raise and fatten the pig
and to report his success at given times.8
The board strongly endorsed his plan, and in early 1916 Hollins began to develop a
system of prizes for the boys who participated. By May 1916, Hollins's "Pinellas County
Pig Club" saw fifty young men engaged in a "fever heat" competition as they selected
their hogs, planted their crops, and tended to the animals. A newspaper report claimed
that one boy traveled six miles from his home to town to retrieve his pig, which he
carried back under his arm. Another boy met Hollins at a train depot to get his pig; this
lad brought the pig home on his wheelbarrow. Children of some pioneer families-
including Stansel Taylor of Largo and Sumner Lowe of Anona-became charter
members of the Pig Club. Frank Maurice Harris, son of W. B. Harris, also joined the
inaugural class of this porcine project. Indeed, the younger Harris may have received
guidance from his father, a man who regularly traveled by horse through central Pinellas
to tend to his hog traps. Jay B. Starkey, Sr., occasionally accompanied "Uncle Bill" on
Enrollment increased in the Lealman school sub-district as infrastructure
improved and families came to the area to take advantage of the land boom. On 5
October 1915, Pinellas County commissioners approved a resolution to issue $715,000 in
bonds to construct a network of hard-surface brick roads. This plan called for substantial
7 Largo Sentinel, 13 January 1916.
9 Largo Sentinel, 13 January 1916, 25 May 1916. Jay B. Starkey, Jay Starkey's 'Things I Remember,' 1899-
1979 (Brooksville: Reprinted from Southwest Florida Water Management District, 1980), 56-57.
improvements to Haines Road and other arteries that connected the Lealman area with St.
Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Seminole, and other communities. In November 1916 rankings
of attendance and tardiness among the county's twenty-six schools for white children,
Harris ranked sixteenth in standing based upon tardiness and last based upon attendance
(with an average attendance of 83.6% of pupils, compared with Pinellas Park's top rate of
99.6%). While agricultural duties may have provided some children in the Lealman area
an excuse to play hooky, freeholders in the Lealman district knew that growth in
enrollments stretched resources at the two area schools. By the fall of 1917, thirty-one
students attended "Will Harris" schoolhouse and thirty-eight went to Lealman School
Number Two. By early 1918, members of the Lealman sub-district, including trustee W.
H. Harris, voted twelve-to-one to approve $6,500 in bonds for two projects: $2,000 to
remodel Harris School and $4,500 to replace the 1908 School Number Two with a new
structure (Lealman-Clearview School). The district then modified the original frame
building at Harris School by adding indoor plumbing and other amenities to
accommodate its growing student body. Photographs of the original Harris School
indicate the presence of an addition near the stairs and portico entryway by 1919.10
A New Building Replaces the 1912 Structure
Despite the 1918 improvements to the original Harris School, the land boom
sealed the fate of this structure. Families continued to move into new subdivisions along
St. Petersburg's border with unincorporated Lealman. While between thirty-four and
thirty-eight students crowded into this wooden structure for classes each term between
the 1919-1920 and 1922-1923 school sessions, the growing population required a larger
facility. Estelle Chapman, acting as both principal and teacher, experienced "school
overcrowding" as she tried to instruct and supervise nearly forty children in cramped
quarters. By 1923, construction began on a new Harris School. When classes moved
from the 1912 structure to the new building with three classrooms in 1924, enrollment
10 Largo Sentinel, 4 November 1915, 9 November 1916, 1 November 1917, 21 February 1918. For
photographs of the original Harris School before and after renovation, see: Golden Anniversary ofPinellas
increased to seventy-one students. By the 1924-1925 school year, enrollment again
soared to 105 pupils."
Like its 1912 predecessor, the new structure became an educational cornerstone
for the residents of eastern Lealman. In 1926, school officials constructed a cafetorium
adjacent to the right of the 1924 building as a place for lunches, assemblies, and
programs at the school. By early 1927, concerned parents had formed a Parent Teachers
Association (P.T.A.) at Harris School that raised funds to open and equip the cafeteria,
acquire a telephone for the school, purchase reference books, and establish a small
circulating collection of books for the library. For a brief period during the Depression,
authorities closed Harris School and sent children to 54th Avenue Elementary, a boom-era
school opened in January 1928 on a site acquired from the O'Berry Grove. When state
officials hoped to economize during this period by permanently closing Harris School, its
P.T.A. members mobilized and a petition drive began to not only keep the school open,
but also to add more classrooms to Harris School. Indeed, by the spring of 1933, P.T.A.
members held "penny marches" at the end of each monthly meeting and occasional
"spoon shower" pot luck gathering to raise funds and lobby for the school. In an
interesting spin on rewarding school achievement, the 1933 Easter egg hunt featured
prizes for students who found both the largest number and the least number of eggs.12
The Harris Family and the Development of Pinellas County
Members of the Harris family continued to participate in the political and
economic development of Pinellas County long after the 1924 structure replaced the
original namesake school. In earlier years, "Uncle Bill" Harris worked as a pioneer
farmer who cultivated fruit (especially oranges) and also helped to develop roads in the
Lealman region. He served as a school trustee for fourteen years and later, for fourteen
years, as District 1 Commissioner for Pinellas County. A member of the Democratic
Party, Harris built a strong following in St. Petersburg. For example, during June 1926
nominations for the County Commission, Harris defeated Ernest Davis by a margin of
Golden Anniversary ofPinellas Schools, 49; United States Works Progress Administration, Pinellas
County Newspaper Index : W.P.A. Project No. 2865, 1938-1939 (Pinellas County, Fla.: Board of County
Commissioners, 1939), vol. 4, 112.
12 Golden Anniversary ofPinellas Schools, 49, 57; St. Petersburg Times, 5 February 1927, 18 April 1933.
388 to 136 votes. During the boom era, he became a partner in the Largo real estate firm
of Harris and McMullen. He also held posts as a member of the Elks and as a director of
First Security Bank in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, after graduating from St. Petersburg
High School, daughter Myrtle Elsie Harris studied music at the Florida State College for
Women (now Florida State University) in Tallahassee. She retuned to Pinellas County as
an educator who, continuing the commitment to education in the Lealman area shown by
her father, taught and served as a principal at Lealman Avenue Elementary from 1930 to
1936. In July 1935, she married C. O. (Clowny Oswald) Lowe, the son of landowner and
banker Clowney Edgar Lowe.13
Newspapers reported the passing of "Uncle Bill" Harris on the morning of
Halloween, 1940. On the evening of 30 October, feeling in great health after a recent trip
to North Carolina, he experienced "a slight attack of indigestion." The pain intensified
and at 10:00 p.m., he dropped dead at the entrance to the bedroom after suffering a heart
attack. His death brought grief to county commissioners and many residents of Lealman
who appreciated his "quiet, soft-spoken, and publicity-shunning" demeanor. Commission
Chair W. J. Christie lamented the loss of his colleague, noting that Harris "was
conscientious and sincere in his duties There was only one Bill Harris and I don't
believe there could ever be anyone who could replace him."14
Controversy later erupted as members of the Pinellas County school board
considered closing Harris School in the early 1973. Members of the Harris family had
donated the original parcel for the 1912 school with the condition that school officials
maintain this site for educational purposes. Any other use invalidated the original deed of
gift and would allow the Harris heirs to reclaim the title. In 1931, an adjoining piece of
land became part of the Harris School campus when Albert Hoxie deeded part of his
holdings to the school system at the time of his death. Similar to Harris, Hoxie provided
his parcel with the condition that officials "maintain a building ... for school purposes."
Hoxie's deed further restricted the site for use by "white pupils only." In February 1973,
members of the Pinellas County School Board voted to close the 1924 Harris School and
13 Genealogical information the C. O. Lowe family derived from information available through Ancestry
World Tree, at http://awt.ancestry.com. Clearwater Sun, 31 October 1940; St. Petersburg Times, 31
October 1940, 8 January 2000; Tampa Morning Tribune, 10 June 1926; Straub, History of Pinellas County,
317; Costrini, Tradition ofExcellence, 133.
transport its students to either Lealman or 54th Avenue elementary schools. Louise H.
Kaleel, Hoxie's granddaughter, threatened litigation if the board followed through with
its plans to close the school. She had no interest in enforcing the Jim Crow provision of
the deed, but hoped her efforts would continue the educational legacy of the Harris
School. She could trust in the counsel of her husband, prominent St. Petersburg attorney
William C. Kaleel, Sr., to assist her in this endeavor. School administrators revisited their
decision, and Harris School remained open.15
Commemorating Harris's Legacy and Early Education in Pinellas County
The Pinellas County Historical Commission discussed plans for a one-room
schoolhouse at Heritage Village long before construction began on the Harris School
replica. Meeting minutes indicate that as early as 21 May 1980, Director Kendrick Ford
told the Historical Commission that the proposed 1980-1981 budget included funding
requests for three major improvements, including $25,000 to relocate and restore a
schoolhouse. Under new business during its 11 June 1980 meeting, the Historical
Commission listed the acquisition of a school building as the highest priority at the park,
ranking above twenty other suggestions. By February 1981, Ford had searched for a
suitable schoolhouse, but had little success. Structures in Ozona and Dunedin were "not
very satisfactory." Ford later had to drop plans for the schoolhouse due to budgetary
reductions in the 1981-1982 fiscal year. Four years would pass before funding resources
permitted the Commission to revisit this proposal.16
The Pinellas County School Board and the County Commission planned many
events to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the peninsula's sovereignty in 1987.
The school district hired Patricia Perez Costrini to oversee its commemorative efforts.
Costrini contacted Ford in 1985 to mention the district's interest in either moving an
existing school building to Heritage Village or constructing a replica. By this time, Ford
had concluded that no suitably-sized structure (such as a one-room schoolhouse) existed
14 Clearwater Sun, 31 October 1940; St. Petersburg Times, 31 October 1940.
15 Golden Anniversary ofPinellas Schools, 49. During this same meeting, members of the Pinellas County
School Board decided to close another longstanding school in southern Pinellas County, Roser Park
Elementary School. St. Petersburg Times, 6 February 1973.
16 Records of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo, 21
May 1980, 11 June 1980, 18 February 1981, 20 May 1981.
in Pinellas County and had even started to look as far away as Walton County for a
building. While members of the Historical Commission agreed to assist Ford in his
search for an appropriate, existing structure, Ford and the Commission had to work on a
tight deadline: If they failed to locate a structure by February 1986, they would have to
move forward with plans for a replica. By May 1986, Ford and Commission members
had to select a site for the structure. They considered two locations: one close to the
Safety Harbor church and the other adjacent to the Lowe Barn. After examining drainage
patterns at these sites, they selected a location north of the Lowe Barn, though they
modified their plans in September by aligning the school between the Lowe Barn and the
museum building to place it on higher-and drier-ground. The construction team
included Bob Fritz of Don Williams's architectural firm and John Buckles of the
Vocational-Technical Education Center. Roesch Housemovers, Inc., built the foundation
at no charge and Weiss Lumber Company donated some of the wood used for the replica.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Harris School replica took place on 25 October 1986,
during the Pinellas County Historical Society's annual Country Jubilee. During late 1986
and early 1987, students in the vocational program provided much of the labor to build
This wood-frame vernacular replica, opened in 1987, portrays the original Harris
School as it might have appeared during the period from 1912 to 1918. Many relics
adorn the schoolhouse, none of which are originally from the Harris School. These
include pictures of President William Howard Taft and President George Washington, an
American flag from the period, inkwell desks, movable chalkboards, slates and chalk, and
McGuffey's Eclectic Readers and spellers. Desks came from a variety of sources,
including Tom Brown (a member of the Campbell family) and an antique shop in Dillard,
Georgia. One chalkboard was purchased, the other donated. The book closet came from
the old Largo High School, now the site of the school district's administration building.8
In front of the school an old bell waits to be rung by the teacher to call pupils into the
17 Records of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo, 20
November 1985, 21 May 1986, 17 September 1986, 19 November 1986; Senior Voice Newspaper, January
The Harris School replica serves as an invaluable educational resource for the
community. Teachers who bring classes to this structure may devise their own lesson
plans or may acquire some from the Heritage Village pre-visit information packets.
Though Pinellas County no longer resembles the agrarian landscape known by "Uncle
Bill" Harris, this replica of his namesake school allows students and teachers to
experience a rugged structure similar to many found in the pine scrub of early twentieth
18 Interview of Ken Ford, former director of Heritage Village, by Stephanie Ferrell and Jim Schnur, 3 May
2003, Heritage Village, Largo.
Heritage Mercantile: A Brief Introduction
History of Site before Structure was Built
> Located along southern boundary of original (August 1888) town plat of St.
> Land once owned by "General" John Constantine Williams, Sr.
> Part of "Williams Grove" on original town plat.
> Land was subdivided and sold in parcels after Williams's death in 1892.
> Former Williams House (built in 1891) later became Manhattan Hotel, a nearby
source of customers for the business. The Williams House presently resides on the
campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
> Improvements to nearby Bayboro Harbor and Salt Creek brought more settlers, as
did the creation of Charles Roser's subdivision, Roser Park.
> Built in 1915 at the southeast corer of Sixth Avenue South and Fifth Street in St.
> One-story wood frame vernacular building.
> Two addresses associated with structure: 468 Sixth Avenue South (smaller area),
470 Sixth Avenue South (larger area).
History of Use
> Larger area was known as H.C. Smith Grocery and South Side Grocery (through
mid-1930s), Harrod's Bake Shop and Deli, Herman Boehm Grocery, Sixth
Avenue Food Shop (or Meat Market, though mid and late 1940s), and Bill's
Grocery (through 1955).
> Smaller area was a butcher store and a residence for the many proprietors of the
larger store through the mid-1950s.
> City directories indicate both areas as 'vacant' during much of the period between
1956 and the mid-1980s, with occasional mention of seasonal residents or other
uses (including an Amway Products wholesale outlet in 1974). This is misleading,
however, because the Preston family used the larger area for storage and the
smaller area as a rental space for seasonal residents during much of this time.
Significant Events/Activities at the Structure and in the Surrounding Community
> Well-positioned during early years to serve residents and tourists in the areas just
south of downtown St. Petersburg.
> Development of Fourth Street corridor (especially after opening of Gandy Bridge
and beginning of the Bee Line Ferry) placed the store in a visible, high traffic area
through the 1940s.
> Nearby competition, including an A&P store at 824 Fourth Street South, and the
emerging Webb's City shopping complex, steered traffic away from older,
smaller merchant stores by the late 1940s and early 1950s.
> Suburbanization and new transportation corridors (notably the shifting of US 19
to 34th Street in St. Petersburg) opened up new communities as residents and
visitors moved to other locations.
>By 1970s and 1980s, the neighborhoods surrounding Mound Park, Bayboro, and
Roser Park suffered loss of longtime residents and problems associated with
short-term rentals and transients.
> The University of South Florida St. Petersburg (Bayboro Campus), established in
1965 along Bayboro Harbor, expanded during early 1980s, but still needed
> By mid-1980s, city officials in St. Petersburg started to acquire parcels for the
expansion of USF St. Petersburg. The Preston family, owners of the mercantile
and adjacent properties since the 1930s, sold the store and land to the city.
Moving of the Structure to Heritage Village
> The building arrived "pretty much intact," except for the floor, in early 1988.
> Hexagonal blocks used for floor resembled those frequently found on St.
Petersburg sidewalks and in some similar buildings from the period.
> Building restored to resemble a 1920s-era grocery, garage, barber shop, and post
office through the efforts of park staff and associated groups (including Pin-Mar).
Heritage Mercantile Store
Built in 1915, the mercantile store originally faced north at the southeast corer of
Sixth Avenue South and Fifth Street in St. Petersburg. This one-story wood frame
vernacular building with a flat roof and parapet front had many proprietors and occupants
during its four decades as a grocery store between 1915 and the mid-1950s. On some
occasions, the store's smaller area served as a separate business, such as a butcher shop.
At other times, the operators of the grocery lived in the smaller space; by 1955, seasonal
residents rented this area while the larger space served as storage for the property's
owners. In an era before air-conditioned shopping centers and supermarkets, mercantile
stores provided groceries and other necessities to people in nearby neighborhoods. This
store opened for business at a time when the Bayboro district, the Mound Park
neighborhood, and nearby Roser Park enjoyed prosperity as'new areas of development.
Though commonly known as H. C. Smith's grocery during the 1910s and 1920s,
the merchants in this building operated under other names at different times. City
directories reveal that merchants also sold commodities in the building under the names
South Side Grocery, Sixth Avenue Food Shop, and Bill's Grocery. The Preston family
purchased this structure in 1935 and owned it for over fifty years. The building's use as a
grocery came to an end by the mid-1950s, possibly due to the presence of larger stores
nearby (especially Webb's City), post-war trends of suburbanization, and changes in
consumer shopping patterns as customers preferred chain supermarkets over smaller
merchants. The city's plans in the mid-1980s to acquire land for the expansion of the
nearby University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus jeopardized the building's
existence. After discussions between owner Richard Preston, city officials, and the
leadership at Heritage Village, Roesch Housemovers transported this structure to
Heritage Village in early 1988. Once renovated, the former H. C. Smith's became known
as Heritage Mercantile.
Development of the Surrounding Neighborhoods
This store once sat upon land near the southern boundary of the original town plat
of St. Petersburg. Completed in August 1888, this plat described lands approximately
from Fifth Avenue North to Seventh Avenue South, and from Beach Drive (then actually
along the bay) west towards Reservoir Lake (now Mirror Lake) and south of the Orange
Belt Railway towards Twelfth Street. Much of the section south of present-day Fourth
Avenue South to about Seventh Avenue and west of Fourth Street appeared on the first
plat as part of "Williams Grove." This land belonged to "General" John Constantine
Williams, Sr., and wife Sarah. The elder Williams, considered "the father of St.
Petersburg" by many early residents, first arrived in the area in 1875 and purchased much
of the land appearing in this original plat. In 1890-1891, Williams constructed a large
Queen Anne mansion on the northern area of his grove that, according to historian
Raymond Arsenault, "gave St. Petersburg its first touch of Victorian decadence." The
efforts of Williams and Peter Demens to bring the Orange Belt Railway to southern
Pinellas had put this small settlement of St. Petersburg on the map.1
During the city's early years, most of the development took place north and
northeast of the "Williams Grove" area. The village's population soared from 273 in
1890 to 1,575 in 1900. By 1920, as the land boom began to explode on the Pinellas
peninsula, over 14,000 residents lived in St. Petersburg. Early hotels such as the Hotel
Detroit and the Manhattan Hotel accommodated a growing number of seasonal visitors.
The three-story Manhattan Hotel, constructed in 1905, actually existed as an addition to
the original Williams House. This structure, less than two blocks from the site of the
mercantile store, provided a regular stream of customers who would have enjoyed the
convenience of visiting the nearby market after it opened in 1915. The land later
occupied by Heritage Mercantile appeared in the Hillsborough County plat books by 30
June 1905. Records denote the site as block seven, north 1000 feet of Lot Nine,
SRaymond O. Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950 (Norfolk, Va.: Donning,
1988), 59-60, 70. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg received a special category historic
preservation grant that allowed that institution to move the John C. Williams House from the 400 block of
5th Avenue South to its present location along Second Street South in March 1995. Later additions to the
structure, including the wooden, three-story Manhattan Hotel room buildings attached to the Williams
House in 1905, could not be saved and were demolished in the spring of 1995.
Benjamin's Fourth Addition to Mound Park Addition. An indenture filed on 29 January
1913 by E. Frazier and Kate M. Frazier covers this mercantile site.2
Soon after the Manhattan Hotel opened, developers started to envision
subdivisions at nearby Bayboro Harbor and Salt Creek. The War Department had given
permission to dredge a channel at St. Petersburg by April 1906, though federal
engineering officials rejected subsequent plans for a commercial harbor in 1907. Upset
by this decision, city leaders lobbied for a deepwater port and Governor Napoleon
Bonaparte Broward supported their efforts by May 1908. Some dredge-and-fill
operations around the harbor began by 1910, the same year the Bayboro Investment
Company regularly advertised lots for sale in the St. Petersburg Times. Predicting a busy
tourist season in late 1910, the Trolley Company even secured a lease with the Bayboro
Investment Company in October 1910 to erect "several scores of tents, at once, to care
for the overflow from the hotels and boardinghouses." With a large dining room planned
at the site, this tent city would also include "a complete sewerage system, water, and
lights." Emphasizing its cleanliness, Trolley officials noted that "no persons having any
kind of disease will be permitted to secure homes there." Officials thus considered the
Bayboro tent city a better alternative than turning away the overflow of seasonal visitors.
By 1913, extensive dredging and channeling of Bayboro Harbor and Salt Creek occurred.
This flurry of commercial and tourist activity certainly would benefit nearby businesses,
such as the mercantile store.3
A Grocery and Mercantile Store on a Busy Corner
The store presently known as Heritage Mercantile opened for business at an
opportune time. Sitting on the southeast corer of Sixth Avenue South and Fifth Street,
this 1915 structure served the new and booming subdivisions in the area. Charles M.
Roser had launched Roser Park in the summer of 1913, with its brick streets and "every
other city convenience" just south of the city limits along Booker Creek. Within a few
2 Research by Ernie Dibble, located in the Heritage Village Library and Archives, includes ownership
history of the parcel once occupied by Heritage Mercantile.
3 St. Petersburg Times, 27 September 1910, 7 October 1910; For more information about early activities at
Bayboro Harbor, please consult: Pinellas County Newspaper Index: WPA Project. (Clearwater: Pinellas
County Board of Public Commissioners, 1939).
years, Roser Park-later incorporated into the city-had nearly sixty new and fancy
homes located just a short stroll away from the grocery store. The opening of Mound
Park Hospital in the early 1920s and the continued construction of homes and small
businesses in the Bayboro area encouraged commercial activities in the district. The 1923
Sanborn fire insurance map reveals many residential dwellings in close proximity to the
store. Improvements to the regional transportation infrastructure certainly helped
business. Traffic started to use the Gandy Bridge and its associated causeways that
connected St. Petersburg to Tampa in November 1924. In addition, the Bee Line Ferry's
regularly scheduled service beginning in February 1926 offered motorists a quicker route
between the southern tip of the Pinellas peninsula and Manatee County for the next
twenty-eight years until replaced by the first Sunshine Skyway bridge in 1954. Thus, by
the mid-1920s, the Fourth Street corridor became an important north-south artery through
the Sunshine City. With its location one block west of Fourth Street, this store probably
received more than its fair share of business.4
The mercantile store actually had two mailing addresses, and at times different
proprietors used the separate parts of the store. The smaller room recreated as a barber
shop, post office, and telephone exchange carried the address of 468 Sixth Avenue South.
The grocery and garage area appeared in city directories as 470 Sixth Avenue South.
During the mid-1920s and early 1930s, Edward Fisher operated a butcher shop and meat
market out of the smaller store. Directories from the time refer to the occupant as
"Edward Fisher, Meats." By 1931, Edward and his wife, Maude Fisher, lived at 1304
Fourth Avenue North in St. Petersburg. By 1918, Henry C. Smith established a grocery
store in the larger portion of the building. In 1926, a grocer named Jos. Q. Watson and
wife, Emma L., took control of the grocery; they may have lived in the store for awhile.
By the end of the decade, the Watsons changed the name of the store to South Side
Grocery and lived in a separate dwelling. By 1929, Henry C. Smith reacquired his
interest in the property and changed the store's name back to H. C. Smith's. While
operating the store, Henry and Bertha Smith lived at 1904 Seminole Boulevard South, in
4 Rick Baker, Mangroves to Major League: A Timeline ofSt. Petersburg, Florida (Prehistory to 2000
A.D.) (St. Petersburg: Southern Heritage Press, 2000), 103-104, 140, 152; Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the
Florida Dream, 196-197, 199; Sanborn Map Company, Fire Insurance Maps: Florida (Teaneck, N.J.:
Chadwyck-Healey, 1983), 1923 map, microfilm reel 13.
St. Petersburg. By 1934-1935, Alma Harrod established Harrod's Bake Shop and Deli in
the larger portion of the building.5
Charles E. Preston purchased the building in 1935 for $3,000, a substantial price
at the height of the Great Depression. He delivered a $1,000 down payment to State
Adjustment Company of St. Petersburg on January 26 and closed on the property by
February 5. Shortly after Preston acquired the property, the larger store became a
delicatessen known as the Sixth Avenue Food Shop (or Herman F. Boehm, Grocer) and
the smaller room served as an apartment for the store and delicatessen manager. During
some of this time, Charles Preston used the rear area of the building as storage for his
nearby rental properties; he often kept his 1931 Ford automobile in the area presently
used as a garage.6
A market operated out of this building through the mid-1950s. Herman F. and
Elizabeth M. Boehm lived in the smaller area of the building from at least 1936 through
1946, while they ran the Sixth Avenue Food Shop, also known as the Sixth Avenue Meat
Market. This name remained associated with the grocery store through the 1948 edition
of the R.L. Polk city directory, though different proprietors did live in the smaller area.
In 1946-1947, Herman and Elizabeth Boehm turned over the operation of the Sixth
Avenue Food Shop to Gus and Mary Kostis. The Kostis family lived in the store during
1947, but sometime in 1948 they moved into a trailer near their new store, Aloha Grocery
Gardens, a market once located at 2200 Tyrone Boulevard. In 1948 John and S. Addele
MacDonald lived in the smaller room while the Sixth Avenue Food Shop operated in the
larger area. By 1949, William and Catherine A. Williams occupied the structure. They
lived in the smaller area while the market remained open in the other part of the building.
This store, Bill's Grocery, operated until the mid-1950s, with an entry last appearing in
the 1954 city directory. As a child growing up in the Roser Park neighborhood, former-
park director Kendrick Ford regularly visited this store while delivering copies of the St.
Petersburg Evening Independent on his newspaper route.7
5 An examination of R.L. Polk's St. Petersburg (Pinellas County, Fla.) City Directory provided useful
information about the occupants of this structure.
Competition, Suburbanization, and an Empty Storefront
City directories between 1955 and 1971 generally refer to both portions of the
building as "vacant." While the building's owners did use the structure for storage or as a
dwelling for occasional tenants during this period, post-war changes in the region's
demographic and commercial landscapes-as well as ever-changing consumer
expectations-rendered the building inadequate as a grocery store. In the mid-1920s,
James Earl "Doc" Webb had opened a small apothecary that soon mushroomed into
Webb's City, the "World's Most Unusual Drugstore." By the end of the Second World
War, Webb's City occupied numerous structures and many city blocks. With a hub
located at Ninth (Dr. Martin Luther King) Street and First Avenue South, this nearby
business and its retail grocery operations certainly harmed smaller markets in the vicinity.
Jim Rosati's suburban Tyrone Gardens shopping center (Tyrone Boulevard at Ninth
Avenue North), the substantial Central Plaza shopping center (34h Street at U.S.
Highway 19), and other venues that began to appear in the mid-1950s served the needs of
a growing number of suburban residents. The presence of these shopping centers also
enticed other residential developers to craft new communities, such as Meadowlawn,
Harshaw Lake, Maximow Moorings, and Lakewood, to name a few. As people flocked to
new suburbs and their air-conditioned commercial outlets, fewer customers visited
smaller stores in downtown St. Petersburg or the Bayboro district.8
New transportation routes affected traditional traffic patterns throughout Pinellas
County by the early 1950s. The realignment of U.S. Highway 19 to 34th Street in St.
Petersburg and the opening of Central Plaza and the Sunshine Skyway enticed many
residents and tourists to look at property in southern and western St. Petersburg, Gulfport,
Kenneth City, Pinellas Park, and other areas of lower Pinellas. While St. Petersburg's
main north-south traffic artery moved west from Fourth Street to U.S. 19, in north county
communities like Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, and Clearwater, the newly
opened segments of U.S. 19 redirected traffic flow eastward away from the centers of
those cities. Just as the construction of Interstate highways doomed many mom-and-pop
businesses and roadside attractions as motorists selected the expressway rather than the
7 Ibid.; Interview of Ken Ford, former director of Heritage Village, by Stephanie Ferrell and Jim Schnur, 3
May 2003, Heritage Village, Largo.
back roads, small stores like the former H. C. Smith's seemed too small and off-the-
beaten path to match the competitors in suburban communities or along recently
improved roads. The presence of other nearby markets, such as the well-stocked A&P
grocery store at 824 Fourth Street South, also discouraged the continued existence of a
market in this building.
The Preston family held title to the property until the late 1980s. Charles Preston
rented the apartment to seasonal visitors and generally used the larger area for storage.
Winter resident Clara A. MacKenzie leased the small apartment area in 1972 and N. P.
Alcala stayed there in 1981. For many years during the 1970s and 1980s, however, the
city directory lists 468 Sixth Street South as "vacant." This may have occurred because
agents for R. L. Polk visited or contacted the location at a time between renters, or after
the snowbirds had returned home. After the death of Charles Preston, his son Richard
took control of the building. The estate of Charles Preston granted Richard I. Preston
control of the building by 30 April 1973. Richard rented tle larger space to an Amway
distributor during 1974 and also a non-denominational church. In 1974, Ronald Preston
occupied the smaller area of the building. During this period, the Prestons held other
nearby real estate properties, including the Preston Apartments that once sat next to the
grocery with a mailing address of 460 Sixth Avenue South.9
An Expanding Campus and a Market on the Move
As Bill's Grocery closed its doors in the mid-1950s, educators and lawmakers
debated the future of higher education in Florida. Decisions by legislators in Tallahassee
and city officials in St. Petersburg between 1956 and the early 1980s brought new
opportunities to the Bayboro district and-for a time-cast an uncertain shadow over the
future of the grocery building. Enrollment increases at Florida's other public universities
encouraged lawmakers to approve the creation of a new public institution of higher
learning in 1956. With plans to locate the campus in west central Florida, a political
dogfight ensued between Pinellas and Hillsborough County political leaders, as well as
other officials, as all parties searched for a suitable location. After much deliberation, the
8 Baker, Mangroves to Major League, 149, 206-207; Arsenault, 309.
state secured a large site that had once served as part of a former army air field along
Fowler Avenue, north of Tampa. Construction and planning immediately began on this
site, often referred to as Temple Terrace University (among other names). As buildings
appeared among the sandspurs and anthills, the state officially christened this institution
the University of South Florida (USF).
While USF began offering classes in the Temple Terrace area by 1960, students
also enrolled in a new college with facilities temporarily located in the Bayboro Harbor
district. Florida Presbyterian College, a private liberal arts institution later named Eckerd
College, scheduled its earliest classes in the former barracks and offices of the United
States Maritime Service (USMS). As war clouds loomed on the horizon in the late 1930s,
the government had constructed a USMS Training Station along the bayside rim of
Bayboro Harbor. Decommissioned in the mid-1950s, the station later became the site of
classes offered by Florida Presbyterian (Eckerd) College and-by the summer of 1965-
the University of South Florida. USF St. Petersburg, fondly known by many as the
"Bayboro Campus," expanded by the late 1970s and early 1980s as community leaders
(including longtime St. Petersburg Times publisher Nelson Poynter), lawmakers, and
local officials secured parcels adjacent to the original site on the Bayboro peninsula.10
Plans for a new round of campus expansions threatened the future of the Heritage
Mercantile structure. During the early 1980s, USF St. Petersburg hoped to acquire
additional land for classroom space, other structures, and parking facilities. Federal
Aviation Authority regulations limited the vertical growth of campus structures because
of airplane flying patterns used at the adjacent Albert Whitted Airport. When city
officials decided against closing or modifying Albert Whitted in July 1984, they offered
to pledge their financial support to acquire nearby properties so the campus could grow.
Using approximately $9.8 million in utility bonds, council members voted to budget
nearly $12 million to acquire land for the university's growth. City officials also agreed
to pay property owners up to fifteen percent above the appraised value of their properties
as a way of encouraging them to sell the land. Between 1983 and September 1986 the
9 Information obtained from various annual issues of R.L. Polk's St. Petersburg (Pinellas County, Fla.)
city had purchased ninety-nine parcels. Officials quickly worked with landowners and
their representatives to acquire the remaining forty-three lots in this tract, including the
site of Preston's mercantile garage."
Meetings between Richard Preston, park staff, and members of the Pinellas
County Historical Commission spared the mercantile store from the wrecking ball. Ken
Ford and members of the commission had envisioned the addition of a country store as
part of the open-air museum as early as March 1980. The acquisition of an old store
ranked second highest on an 11 June 1980 list of priorities for future park structures. In
early 1981, Ford reported that he had examined the 1915 store as a possible candidate for
relocation; though the owners had not yet agreed to the move, they did tell Ford that they
had no immediate plans for the structure. Predicting a tight budget in the forthcoming
fiscal year, Ford considered the mercantile store as an exhibit space that "could produce
revenue for the Park and the County." As the city began to purchase parcels for the
expansion of USF St. Petersburg, Ford and Preston continued their discussions about the
store. Preston sold the property to the city in 1988, and Ford immediately contacted
Roesch Housemovers, Inc.12
The City of St. Petersburg donated the building to Heritage Village in early 1988.
According to Ford, the building arrived "pretty much intact," though without its original
floors. Through the cooperative efforts of the Pinellas Model A Restorers (Pin-Mar)
Antique Auto Club and some creative work by park staff, this structure was fashioned to
resemble a 1920s local grocery, with garage, service station, barbershop, telephone
exchange and post office. Pin-Mar pledged to donate an old gas pump and to develop
displays in the garage area of the structure. Meanwhile, Ford acquired the hexagonal
blocks used on the floor from a representative of Terra Excavating in St. Pete Beach.
Ford considered the hexagonal blocks an appropriate choice for the floor at the building's
10 Clippings and other archival materials related to the history of the United States Maritime Service
Training Station at Bayboro Harbor and the USF St. Petersburg campus may be consulted at Special
Collections and Archives, Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, USF St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg Times, 19 November 1985, 23 May 1986; St. Petersburg Evening Independent, 5
12 Records of the Pinellas County Historical Commission, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo,
19 March 1980, 11 June 1980, 18 February 1981, 19 November 1986, 17 February 1988. Park leadership
set aside $25,000 for the possible relocation of a mercantile store to Heritage Village during the early
new location given the history of using similar blocks on sidewalks and within certain
structures in St. Petersburg. When the store building arrived on site, Ford also contacted
the Navy Seabees for their assistance in renovating the structure. During the 1988
Country Jubilee, the open space of the larger room provided an excellent venue for the
flea market. Park staff constructed the counters and shelves. Labels copied from Kovels'
catalogues and similar sources provided a cost-effective way to recreate period pieces for
The mercantile store contains a variety of artifacts dating from the early 1900s, as
well as many replicas of period pieces. Although the exhibits and artifacts do not
correspond with the exact layout of the store as it existed, they do portray historical
elements commonly found in such structures at the time of the store's heyday. The 1925
Model T Ford truck in the rear garage, household appliances, canned goods, old
catalogues, and cold soft drinks for sale make the Heritage Mercantile store a popular
place to visit.
One Final, and Ironic, Note
Heritage Village obtained the mercantile store because the City of St. Petersburg
sought land for the expansion of the USF campus along Bayboro Harbor. While
negotiations saved this building from possible demolition, most structures on other
parcels obtained during this phase of expansion faced the wrecking ball. Many small
cottages and a few larger homes, all within walking distance of the former H. C. Smith's
grocery, disappeared from the landscape as the university expanded its boundaries during
the late 1980s and early 1990s. Two notable structures-the Potter and Black houses-
sat along the western side of Second Street South between Fifth and Sixth avenues. By
the time the city had obtained these properties-sites of historic significance-the homes
had deteriorated beyond repair. For a few years after the demolition of the Potter and
Black houses, these parcels became a parking lot for the Campus Activities Center at
USF St. Petersburg. In an ironic turn of events, the land once occupied by these signature
homes of the Bayboro district later served as the site of the Florida Center for Teachers
building and headquarters of the Florida Humanities Council.
13 Ibid., 17 February 1988, 18 May 1988, 17 November 1988; Ken Ford Interview.
Lowe House and Barn: A Brief Introduction
> The home, a board and batten structure, largely the work of Wesley Lowe,
contained pine and cypress. The two-story building certainly stood out along "The
Narrows" and in the Anona area after its construction in 1888.
> The barn, constructed in 1912, replaced a smaller barn that once sat on the Lowe
property. Some of the wood may have come from an earlier structure.
History of Occupants
> The Lowe family, led by Captain John T. Lowe, came to the area by the late
1850s. A native of the Bahamas born in 1830, John Lowe's ancestors had
previously lived in the Carolinas and other British colonies. As Loyalists during
the American Revolution, some probably fled to East Florida, then to the
Bahamas. John Lowe came with family members to Key West as a child in 1840.
He married Laura Meares, a native of Nassau. Members of the Lowe and Meares
families helped to establish the Anona settlement and lived in the Seminole/Largo
area near "The Narrows" of Boca Ciega Bay. The families came to the area from
Key West. Captain John Lowe had made frequent trips along Florida's west coast
between Key West and Cedar Keys.
> During the Civil War, some members of the Lowe family fought in distant battles
for the Confederacy, while those who remained on the homestead suffered the
effects of the Union blockade (the "Anaconda" Strategy).
> Lowe and his children (especially Jefferson T. Lowe and Wesley Lowe) played an
important role in the development of the Anona settlement. Younger son Asa M.
Lowe would later become a business leader in the Tarpon Springs community.
> Wesley Lowe and family lived in the structure until the 1930s.
> By late 1940s, Paul Randolph and Hugh Ford acquired the property. Shortly after
this transaction, with Randolph planning to demolish or remove the structure,
Maurice and Corinna Lowe Condrick acquired the house. Corinna was a
granddaughter of Capt. John T. Lowe and daughter of Wesley. As a young
woman, Corinna taught in Tarpon Springs schools and spent a lot of time with her
uncle, Asa M. Lowe. She married Maurice Condrick and moved to southern St.
> The Condricks had the Wesley Lowe House dismantled (numbering each piece).
and reconstructed on a tract of land at 800-37th Street North in St. Petersburg (a
block south of the St. Petersburg Public Library's main branch).
> After the Condricks died, the structure was given to the St. Petersburg Historical
Society. The Society, with limited funds and a tight deadline, was able to have
the structure moved (in one piece) to the Haas Museum complex near Central
Plaza in 1970. The house remained at that site until moved to Heritage Village.
Moving of the Barn and House to Heritage Village
> The Lowe Barn came directly to Heritage Village (not through St. Petersburg, like
the Lowe House) in late 1976. Work on the Lowe Barn's restoration was nearly
finished by the fall of 1977. One of the earlier structures brought to Heritage
Village (along with Seven Gables and Plant-Sumner), the barn arrived as park
officials planned to move the McMullen-Coachman log cabin.
>The barn remained on the Randolph site for over twenty years after the Condricks
had moved the Lowe House to St. Petersburg. By the early 1970s, plans were
made to develop the remaining portion of the original Lowe homestead as part of
a condominium complex located at Randolph Farms. The barn was donated to the
Largo Historical Society in 1976, and reconstructed at Heritage Village in January
1977 of the following year.
> When the St. Petersburg Historical Society planned to close the Haas Museum
complex, that organization offered the Lowe House to the County Historical
Commission and Heritage Village. There was some concern that the house might
be destroyed if the society did not find a new and secure home. At the time, the
park administration had started to pursue the Daniel McMullen house and worried
that moving the Lowe House to Heritage Village would take away necessary
space. Members of the St. Petersburg Historical Society worked closely with
Heritage Village, since members considered that to be the best and most logical
place for the structure to move. The County covered the moving costs of the
Lowe House from the Haas Museum to Heritage Village.
Lowe House and Barn
Members of the Lowe family first settled on the central Pinellas Peninsula by the
late 1850s. Many branches of the family lived in the Bahamas during the 1700s and early
1800s. Some moved to the upper and lower keys, including Key West, by the mid-1830s.
Similar to Joshua Boyer, the Lowes looked to the sea for economic opportunities during
the mid-nineteenth century. Led by Captain John Thomas Lowe, a small group arrived at
"Lowe's Landing," a site along the intracoastal waterway between Indian Rocks Beach
and Anona. Family members fought in the Civil War, established citrus groves and
farmsteads, and joined other early settlers in developing the west central Pinellas
Peninsula. By the time the Orange Belt Railway reached the new settlement of St.
Petersburg in 1888, Lowes and affiliated families lived, throughout the Tampa Bay
region. Captain J. T. Lowe partitioned his original land claim, providing tracts for his
children: Jefferson Theodore, Wesley Brownell, Mary Ellen, and Asa Milton Lowe.
The Lowe House, built largely through the efforts of Wesley Lowe, became an
important meeting place for many pioneer families of Anona. Friends and relatives,
including members of the Meares, Wilcox, Walsingham, Whitehurst, McMullen, Bayly,
and Logan families, to name a few, gathered at the Lowe homestead during the formative
years of Pinellas County's history. Young Wesley Lowe went to Key West in the mid-
1880s. While there, he met and married Mary Pinder. They returned to Anona circa 1888
to farm on his family's land. During this period, Wesley and his father built the Lowe
A board and batten structure built in the late 1880s, the Lowe House contains
vertically placed boards with narrow strips of lumber atop each seam. Cypress wood was
used for its original (and replacement) shingles and the foundation, while pine provided
the primary building material for the rest of the house. The parlor, dining area, and
kitchen occupied the lower floor, while stairs led to three bedrooms and an open hall
area. Windows that expose nearly the full length of upper floor rooms provided excellent
cross ventilation for hot days. In the early 1900s, Wesley Lowe built an additional room
for his aging father, Captain J. T. Lowe. Later restoration efforts removed this room,
along with other modem amenities such as indoor plumbing and electrical wiring.
Wesley lived on this property until the 1930s. By 1912, he constructed a larger
barn to replace an earlier and smaller one that had existed since the late 1800s.
Meanwhile, other members of the family became commercial and civic leaders in Tarpon
Springs, St. Petersburg, and Fogartyville (near present-day Bradenton); other branches of
the family remained in Key West and other Monroe County settlements. Wesley's
daughter, Corinna Lowe, moved to Tarpon Springs and became a fifth-grade teacher for a
few years. She often spent her free time with Wesley's brother (and her uncle), Asa M.
Lowe. While in Tarpon, she fell in love with Maurice P. Condrick, a native of
Pennsylvania. They married and settled in St. Petersburg. As Wesley grew older, he sold
the Lowe House and barn to the Merritt family in the mid-1930s. By the late 1940s,
owners of the land had created a ranch on part of the property and decided to demolish
the house. Learning of these plans, Maurice Condrick purchased his wife's childhood
home, had it disassembled and the pieces numbered, and moved it to the 800 block of
37th Street North in St. Petersburg. The Condricks lived in the house by the early 1950s,
and continued to reside there until their deaths. In October 1970, the St. Petersburg
Historical Society acquired the property and had it moved to the Haas Museum complex.
That organization received a grant in 1988 to refurbish the building and research its
history. Meanwhile, the Largo Historical Society received the Lowe's barn as a donation
by 1976 and worked with leadership of the newly-established museum at Heritage
Village to bring that structure to its new home in early 1977.
The Lowe House rejoined its former neighbor, the barn, in May 1991. By late
1990, the St. Petersburg Historical Society had decided to consolidate its operations and
close the buildings at the Haas Museum. After a period of uncertainly, county funds
allowed for the firm of Roesch Housemovers to bring the Lowe House to Heritage
The Lowe Family History and Early Years of Settlement
Although members of Captain John T Lowe's family first settled along the
Pinellas Peninsula in the 1850s, family tradition notes that some of Lowe's ancestors had
visited Florida nearly seven decades earlier, under difficult circumstances. As Loyalists
during the American Revolution, Lowe's progenitors fled the Carolinas for safe haven in
other British colonies. Family histories claim that some relatives traveled to East Florida
and stayed in St. Augustine before resettling in the Bahamas. A few members of the
family arrived in the Bahamas as early as the 1720s, though the exact year that Lowes
first ventured to these Caribbean islands remains unclear. Genealogical research at
Heritage Village has traced this pioneer family's lives and activities to the early 1700s.
According to family records, Gideon Lowe and his brother wrecked their ship along the
island of Bermuda. A mariner by trade, Gideon later settled on Harbour Island in the
Bahamas and exchanged vows with Nancy Saunders. Their union produced at least six
children, the eldest of which was Matthew, born in 1775. In April 1783, Captain Gideon
battled against the Spaniards who attempted to capture the Bahamas during the closing
days of the American Revolution. Gideon received a land grant for his services from the
crown, and by 1807 he occupied 240 acres on Green Turtle Cay in the Abaco Islands.
Matthew and some his brothers followed in their father's footsteps by becoming sailors at
a young age and assisting their father in the profitable-if dangerous-salvage operations
of sunken vessels known as "wrecking." Matthew married a woman named Sarah and
they couple raised seven children. The oldest child, William, entered the world on 6 April
In time, young William Lowe became a sea captain that sailed along the waters of
the Caribbean and lower Gulf of Mexico. In her extensive research of the Lowe family,
historian Joyce Pickering notes that William-Gideon's grandson-became the
progenitor of most of the Lowes residing on the Pinellas Peninsula. William wed Mary
Anne Russell, daughter of Joseph and Sarah Russell, an 1806 native of the Bahamas, in
1828. William and Mary Anne Lowe had seven children, six natives of Green Turtle Cay
' Joyce Pickering, "The Lowe Family," undated manuscript, located in Heritage Village Library and
Archives, Largo; "Wesley Lowe House: Cypress Board & Battan Home ... Endearing and Enduring,"
pamphlet created by St. Petersburg Museum of History, 1988, located in building files, Heritage Village
Library and Archives, Largo; "Soldier's Pension Claim: J.T. Lowe," Florida Confederate Pension
Application Files, Record Group 137, Series 587, State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee [Available
electronically at: http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A05782/005.pdf]. In its obituary of J. T. Lowe, the Tarpon
Springs Leader claimed his year of birth was 1827, not 1830. This date conflicts with pension records
submitted for his services in the Confederacy during the Civil War and other documentary sources. Tarpon
Springs Leader, 5 August 1921; Genealogical research on Lowe family appears in building files, Heritage
Village Library and Archives, Largo.
in the Bahamas, and the youngest a native of Key West, Florida: William C., John
Thomas, Amos, Lorenza, Mary Elizabeth, Robert, and Sarah Jane. The second of seven
children born to William and Mary Anne Russell Lowe, John entered the world on 15
February 1830 at Green Turtle Cay. He spent much of his childhood in and around
Nassau and the islands, though events within the British Empire soon brought members
of his family to the Florida Keys.2
Some residents of the Bahamas left the islands after the United Kingdom
Emancipation Act took effect in 1834. In August 1833, Parliament had passed this act,
one that required either outright manumission or apprenticeship for the former slaves by
the summer of 1834. With slavery coming to an end in their homeland, some Bahamian
"Conchs" decided to relocate to the Florida Keys to take advantage of new economic
opportunities, including "wrecking." At the age of ten, John T. Lowe joined his family
as they left Nassau for Key West in late 1840. Lowe, his parents, and siblings became
citizens of the United States in 1845, the year that Florida entered the Union as the
twenty-seventh state. During this period, William began running a schooner between Key
West and Cedar Keys that carried mail, lumber, and other provisions. As he grew older,
John often accompanied his father on these journeys.3
As a young man, John T. Lowe honed his navigational skills and became a sea
captain. His travels along the sea would take him to distant locations, such as New
Orleans and Honduras. Soon he joined his father, William, in operating schooners along
the west coast of Florida, generally between Key West and Cedar Keys. Due to the lack
of trails and primitive roads in southwest Florida south of Tampa Bay, their travels
served as an important link that connected Key West with the rest of Florida. David Levy
SFor a discussion of the development of Key West during the mid-nineteenth century, see: Maureen Ogle,
Key West:. History of an Island of Dreams (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003); see also:
"Application for Pension: Alfred Lowe," Florida Confederate Pension Application Files, Record Group
137, Series 587, State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee [Available electronically at:
http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A02364/012.pdf]. John T. Lowe may have lived outside of Florida for a
period in the mid-1840s, after his parents were naturalized. According to papers he filed for a pension in
1909, Capt. Lowe claimed he had resided in Florida continuously since 15 January 1847, not the early
1840s. See: "Soldier's Pension Claim: J.T. Lowe," Florida Confederate Pension Application Files, Record
Group 137, Series 587, State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee [Available electronically at:
http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A05782/005.pdf]; Pickering, "The Lowe Family."
Yulee's selection of the Cedar Keys region as the southern terminus of his cross-state
railroad to Femandina by the late 1850s solidified the importance of this water route by
the beginning of the Civil War. Family members also became experts at fishing. Captain
J. T. Lowe married the former Laura D. Meares, a Nassau native and daughter of William
and Miriam Roberts Meares, in a Key West ceremony on 28 December 1853. During
their trips, the Lowes occasionally stopped along the bluffs south of Clearwater Harbor in
search of fresh water and a safe place to anchor. In 1858, John T. Lowe transported
government surveyors to the region and learned that officials had never completed formal
surveys of many areas in southern Florida, including the Pinellas Peninsula. After the
surveyors had finished their work, Lowe secured a homestead along the sparsely settled
Lowe arrived at a site south of Clearwater harbor, known as "The Narrows," in
June 1859. He had homesteaded approximately eighty acres along the intracoastal
waterway at a place later known at "Lowe's Landing" for $1.25 an acre. Lowe and his
wife, who was pregnant (with son Wesley B. Lowe) at the time, traveled to this remote
location on their schooner Seadrift with their three year-old son Jefferson and Captain J.
T.'s parents (William and Mary Anne Russell Lowe). An August 1996 St. Petersburg
Times article on the early history of Anona mentioned that the young family brought all
of its belongings on this journey. Also making the voyage were Laura's mother (Miriam
Roberts Meares), her two brothers (William and Richard Turtle Horn Meares), other
members of the Meares family, and Captain August Archer.5
Lowe's remote homestead offered the settlers protection and an abundant supply
of food. According to a story passed along by J.T. Lowe's grandchildren, family
members saw a mother bear and two cubs near a large oak tree along the shoreline shortly
after they arrived. One of the cubs became the first meal for the settlers, who believed
that the old, majestic tree must have served as a landmark for the Indians that had once
lived in the region. The Lowes and Meares families cleared some of the coastal
hammock, cultivated vegetables and citrus, raised livestock, and enjoyed a bounty of fish
4 "Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; Michael Gannon, ed. The New History of Florida (Gainesville:
University Press of Florida, 1995), 223, 225-226; St. Petersburg Times, 22 August 1996; Tarpon Springs
Leader, 5 August 1921.
5 Ibid.; St. Petersburg Times, 9 April 1996, 22 August 1996.
and shellfish in nearby waters. They constructed simple log cabins and a log church.
They started a cemetery next to the church after the death of William Lowe on 9
November 1859. Shortly after William's death, the Lowes celebrated the birth of Wesley
Brownell Lowe on December 6. Captain Lowe may have been the first settler to construct
a frame house along the Pinellas peninsula. Some of the Meares clan settled lands about
two miles below the Lowe homestead, in present-day Oakhurst.6
Members of the Lowe family participated in the Civil War. On 10 January 1861,
the state's General Assembly voted in favor of secession from the Union. Within a
month, delegates from Florida traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, to formalize the
Confederate government. While the remote settlement at Lowe's Landing seemed distant
from Fort Sumter and other battlefields, the Union's "Anaconda" strategy to blockade
Florida's coastline threatened to halt schooner trips by the Lowe family. Although no
evidence indicates that the Lowes possessed slaves in 1861, one may also speculate that
they may have sympathized with the Confederacy as a response to the emancipation
order of 1834 that prompted many Bahamians to leave the islands. Indeed, the presence
of Union troops and military facilities at Key West may have encouraged them to depart.
Before they entered service with the Confederacy, J. T. Lowe and relatives Alfred (born
20 July 1840 in the Bahamas) and William E. (born 1833 in Bahamas) served as
members of the state coastal forces who worked as blockade runners. Alfred and William
E. Lowe, descendants of Gideon Lowe's third child, John Lowe, probably settled in
Manatee County with their parents William A. and Caroline A. Saunders Lowe. A family
history notes that in 1862 J. T. Lowe's three year-old son Wesley, while hiding in nearby
mangroves, saw Union forces board and commandeer his father's sloop, the Cayto. He
allegedly ran to his mother and said, "Cayto gone!" 7
6 Ibid. The article in the 22 August 1996 St. Petersburg Times notes that Capt. August Archer homesteaded
near the Anona Heights area and that one of his descendants later married a member of Richard Meares's
7 "Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; Proof of enlistment, Adjutant General's Office, War Department,
Florida Confederate Pension Application Files, Record Group 137, Series 587, State Archives, Tallahassee.
[Available electronically at: http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A05782/018.pdf and
http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A02364/020.pdf]. Nota bene: On J. T. Lowe's original application for pension,
he claimed that he had enlisted by July 1861. See: http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A05782/011.pdf. Also,
Alfred Lowe claimed he had originally entered service by 13 December 1861, as a member of the state
coast guard, assigned to the Tampa region. See: http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A02364/011.pdf; Pickering,
During the war, members of the Lowe and Meares families fought in distant
battles. On 25 April 1862, John Thomas and Alfred arrived in Tampa to enlist in
Company K, 7th Florida Infantry, of the Confederate States Army. They served under
Colonel Madison Starke Perry, leader of the 7th Infantry and former governor of Florida
(1857-1861). William E. Lowe enlisted as a private on 1 May 1862 and also served in
Company K. John Thomas, Alfred, and William E. Lowe later transferred to service in
the Confederate Navy (J. T. joined in Savannah in 1863). Alfred witnessed the capture
and occupation of Savannah by Union troops; fought at Fort Fisher in Wilmington, North
Carolina, before it fell to Union forces; and went to Richmond, Virginia, where he served
in the rear guard as Confederate forces retreated. He claimed that he was with General
Robert E. Lee's army at the surrender at Appomattox. According to one source, J. T.
Lowe fought in General Braxton Bragg's forces in Tennessee. Richard Turtle Horn
Meares served with Confederate forces, while William Brownell Meares fought in a
Florida regiment until suffering wounds and losing an eye in battle.
Family members struggled during the war years. The blockade limited their
ability to acquire provisions, such as flour. With John away from the home for more than
three years, his wife and children spent a lot of time hunting, fishing, growing sugar cane,
and harvesting salt from the nearby waters. John and Alfred returned to Lowe's Landing
after the war. Though neither suffered wartime wounds, the walk from Virginia to their
homestead must have exhausted both of them. According to one family account, when
Wesley saw a man with a long beard and ax approach his home, the young child fearfully
hid and his mother fainted. That bearded "stranger" was none other than Captain J. T.
Lowe returning to his homestead.9
During the mid 1860s and 1870s, the Lowes resumed their maritime travels along
the west coast of Florida. W. A. "Uncle Billy" O'Quinn, whose family arrived from
Taylor County in 1868, recalled seeing his relatives ship their farm products from Lowe's
8 Ibid., St. Petersburg Times, 22 August 1996; "Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; Genealogical research
appears in building files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo.
9 St. Petersburg Times, 22 August 1996; "Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; Largo, Florida, Then Til...
(Largo: Largo Bicentennial Committee, 1979), 8.
Landing on one of Captain J. T. Lowe's schooners. The O'Quinns provided a
genealogical link between the McMullen and Walsingham families. Alfred Lowe
exchanged vows with Mary J. Whitehurst, a member of a pioneer family in western
Hillsborough County, on 10 October 1867. They soon settled in Key West. Alfred and
Mary Lowe lived together until his death on 1 December 1921. Mary filed for a widow's
pension claim shortly thereafter, and maintained her residence at 1404 White Street in
Key West. Alfred's father, William A. Lowe, settled near Clear Water Harbor by about
1865. Alonzo Lowe, William's son and Alfred's younger brother, later acquired land
along present-day Indian Rocks Road north of J. T. Lowe's property and married Julia
Whitehust. Meanwhile, Captain J. T. Lowe traveled between Lowe's Landing and Key
West for Laura's health and so the children could attend schools in Monroe County. On
10 March 1867, J. T. and Laura Lowe welcomed a daughter, Mary Ellen, and on 30
November 1872, Laura gave birth to their youngest child, Asa Milton Lowe. During this
period, the Captain' constructed and ran schooners-including one known as the Sea
Drift-for mail and freight service between Cedar Keys and Key West.10
The Development of the Anona Community
The settlements around Lowe's Landing expanded in the years following the Civil
War. The Captain constructed a clapboard house and a small general store along the
Narrows by the 1870s. According to Milton Logan, one of the Captain's grandsons, the
Captain's board and batten home had a shingle roof and cypress stumps as piers for its
foundation. Expanded over time to accommodate his children and their families, the
home had a living room, dining area, kitchen, parlor and bedroom on the first floor, with
two upstairs bedrooms. As the community around the Lowe property grew, it needed a
name. Either J. T. Lowe and Captain Hamlin-one-time postmaster at Cedar Key who
also trolled the waters between Key West and Florida's big bend-named the place
"Anona" for the sweet apples brought to the settlement from Key West. Ironically,
10 Ibid.; Affidavit of marriage, Florida Confederate Pension Application Files, Record Group 137, Series
587, State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee [Available electronically at:
http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A02364/021.pdf]; "Widow's Pension Claim: Alfred Lowe," Florida
Confederate Pension Application Files, Record Group 137, Series 587, State Archives of Florida,
Tallahassee [Available electronically at: http://fmp.dlis.state.fl.us/fpr/A05782/002.pdf and 003.pdf]; Largo
Sentinel, 3 January 1946.
many-if not all-of these apples disappeared from the region after the rough freezes of
the early 1890s. Jefferson, John's oldest son, distributed mail and operated the store for
the nascent community by 1883. Jefferson served as the only postmaster at Anona, a mail
point that operated between November 1883 and February 1922. By the late 1800s,
Jefferson also built a two-story residence.
J. T. Lowe also donated approximately two acres of land to serve as the site of
the Anona Methodist Church and cemetery. Services began in 1872 as members
organized a community church serving all Christian faiths. Earliest services probably
took place in private homes. Captain Lowe, Jefferson, and Wesley joined members of the
Meares and Kilgore families and George Hammock in erecting a "rough board house"
that served as Anona's church until 1882 and as the area's schoolhouse from at least 1874
until 1890. At this time, the Methodist circuit riders who offered services at Anona also
led congregations at Clear Water Harbor, Sylvan Abbey, Indian Pass, Bay View, and
other locations on the peninsula. Since this early structure lacked heating, parishioners
and schoolchildren often met near a large bonfire during winter cold spells. Miriam
Meares Wilcox described dramatic plays on the building's porch, when curtains covered
the porch as a stage, and kerosene lamps and torches provided light. People traveled from
at least as far as Dunedin to watch these performances. In 1882, settlers built a permanent
church made by cypress and other trees felled in the area, sent on J. T. Lowe's schooner
to Cedar Keys for sawing into boards, and brought back to the site. They also moved the
remains of those interred at the original cemetery to a new location. A new school opened
in 1890 on property provided by Richard A. Meares. In an article appearing in the St.
Petersburg Times, Miriam Cornelia Meares described candy pulling (boiling molasses
or sugar cane, stretching it, and cutting it into hard candies), horseback rides, and
numerous swimming parties along the Gulf of Mexico during this period. Milton Logan
claimed that Monday and Tuesday were days to wash and iron clothes, while soup
became a common meal in many homes."
"Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; St.. Petersburg Times, 22 August 1996; "Anona: Ghost Town"
[http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/fl/anona.html] (3 June 2003); Genealogical research located in building
files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo; Largo, Then Til, 82, 104-106. The present Anona
Elementary School opened by 1916, four years after the creation of Pinellas County. By November 1951,
members of the Anona United Methodist Church moved into their new sanctuary, and the 1882 structure
became a Sunday school annex. Many reverends who served at the Safety Harbor Methodist Church, also
Florida's 1885 state census indicates the growth in the Anona community. Living
with J. T. (age: 54) and Laura (age: 50) were children Wesley (age: 26), Mary Ellen (age:
18), Asa M. (age: 12), and the Captain's eighty year-old mother, Mary Anne Russell.
Other family members, including Jefferson T. Lowe, lived nearby. Jefferson, like Alfred
and Alonzo Lowe, married a member of the Whitehurst family when he and Josephine
Catherine Whitehurst exchanged vows in Hillsborough County on 1 June 1881. A
correspondent for the Sunland Tribune claimed that the "matrimonial fever [was] getting
up a boom in the Clear Water section" after Rev. C. S. Reynolds married Whitehrust and
Lowe at Indian Pass. A sailor by profession, Wesley Lowe returned to Key West for
about three years, where he worked as a cigar maker and operated a boat line. He married
Mary Louise Pinder, daughter of Jabez and Drucilla Pinder, in Key West by January
1889. The Pinder house still stood on Southard Street in Key West as late as the 1970s.
Mary Pinder and a woman named Elizabeth Lowe apparently moved from Key West to
the Upper Keys at some point before 1885 to work as schoolteachers at one of the small
schools along the islands. Wesley probably made many trips by boat between Key West
and Anona during this period, as he oversaw construction of the family's new house.12
Wesley B. Lowe built a new, two-story home on his family's land in Anona in the
mid-1880s. A version of the "Homestead House" popular in the late nineteenth century,
this two-story structure had board and batten siding and porches on both ends of its ell-
shape frame. The balloon-frame construction with vertical posts that reached from the
base to the attic provided a strong foundation to protect the structure from high winds.
Large windows provided excellent cross-ventilation. The home had unvarnished floors of
located at Heritage Village, led sermons at the Anona church. Rev. O. C. Howell organized the first bible
school in 1934; Robert L. Sumner, one-time owner of the Plant-Sumner House at Heritage Village, also
conducted services here between 1934 and 1936. See also: Indian Rocks Area Historical Society, Indian
Rocks: A Pictorial History (Indian Rocks: Indian Rocks Area Historical Society, 1980), 64-65, 108-109;
Transcript of interview with Milton Logan, 17 September 1987, located at Heritage Village Library and
Archives, Largo. Milton Logan claimed that he dismantled Captain Lowe's residence in the 1930s, and
used some of the wood for a home he built along Indian Rocks Road.
12 United States Archives and Records Service, Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885:
Hillsborough County (Washington: National Archives/General Services Administration, 1970); Marriage
license of Jefferson T. Lowe and Josephine C. Whitehurst, Clerk of the Court, Hillsborough County,
Florida. Available at: [http://www.lib.usf.edu/ldsu/digitalcollections/H19/images/1881/00122.jpg];
"Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; St.Petersburg Times, 4 July 1988; Sunland Tribune, 25 June 1881;
Largo, Then Til, 9; Jerry Wilkinson, "Upper Keys Schools," located at
http://www.keyshistory.org/schoolspagel.html. Nota bene: some family records spell the surname
"Pindar" rather than "Pinder."
"scrubbed raw wood.""13 By the time the newlyweds settled in their new home at Anona,
their neighbors had started to witness dramatic changes to the area around Lowe's
Landing. The construction of the Orange Belt Railway along the Pinellas Peninsula, and
through nearby Largo, brought much activity to the region around The Narrows. Over
the next few years, the iron horse replaced the boat as the primary means of travel for
many settlers. Just as the arrival of the Orange Belt led to the growth of Tarpon Springs at
the expense of the smaller settlement at Anclote, the path of the rails through present-day
Largo led to wide-scale development to the east and northeast of Anona. In time,
railroads replaced shipping as the preferred form of transport, and many farmers along
the central Pinellas Peninsula decided to send perishables by rail. Indeed, by the early
1890s, Captain J. T. Lowe retired and decided to sell his schooners-the Emma and Asa
M.-to spongers in Tarpon Springs. Many families lived near Lowe's Landing and
Anona, including the Lowes, McMullens, Hammocks, Meares, Walsinghams, Logans,
Oliffs, Hamlins, Baylys, and Wilcoxs. Despite this influx of families, the settlement at
Largo soon eclipsed Anona. By the early 1900s, Largo took on the moniker "Citrus City"
as nearby farms and groves continued to expand.14
Jefferson and Josephine Lowe celebrated the arrival of seven children between
1883 and 1895. While keeping shop and serving as Anona's only postmaster, Jefferson
Lowe found time to spend with twins Laura and Eugene (born 9 April 1883), and their
five siblings: Newton Phillips (born 25 May 1885), Emma Henrietta (born March 1887),
Ernest Elwood (born 13 July 1889), Paul Rutledge (born 17 October 1892), and Victor
Emory (born 21 March 1895). Josephine passed away on 3 June 1896 at Anona, leaving
Jefferson to raise the seven children. On a subdivision of his father's land, Jefferson
cultivated citrus and other crops. Jefferson's store also served as a local packing house.
In October 1908, he married his second wife, Barbara Ellen "Nellie" Hammock
McMullen, daughter of Thomas and Christiana McCall Hammock. Nellie had previously
13 Architectural research files created by Stephanie Ferrell reside in the Heritage Village Library and
Archives, Largo; "The Lowe House Architecture and Restoration," undated manuscript, probably written
by Howard Hansen, located in building files at Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo; Milton
14 "Wesley Lowe House" pamphlet; Largo, Then Til, 32.
been married to John Thomas McMullen, and had at least two children from that earlier
union: Angus and Bolivar McMullen.15
Captain's Lowe's other children also married and took possession of some of the
family farmstead. In June 1896, Mary Ellen Lowe tied the knot with Murdo Logan, a
native of Scotland born on 10 February 1867. Exactly one month older than Mary Ellen,
Murdo had arrived in the United States in 1888. Murdo assisted Captain John and other
Lowe family members on the farmstead's growing citrus acreage. Murdo and Mary Ellen
Logan raised five children: Janet (born 1898), Guy Southwell (born 10 August 1902),
Jessie Shirley (born 1906), John Milton (born 17 May 1909), and Maurice Fraser (born
25 December 1915). After the death of Mary Ellen on 29 September 1916, Wesley and
Mary Pinder Lowe brought the infant Maurice to the Lowe House and helped to raise
him. Born prematurely, young Maurice required special care. During a cool winter,
Wesley and Mary kept the child by their wooden stove. Meanwhile, Asa Milton Lowe
celebrated his 1 January 1896 nuptials with Mary Emily Stowell, a resident of
Brookfield, Massachusetts, born in May 1875. Asa and Mary had two children: Earl
Stowall (born 15 October 1901) and Marion Jennie (born in Tarpon Springs after 1900).
Though Asa received a portion of the original lands claimed by his father in the late
1850s, he soon moved away from the homestead to work as a grocery clerk while living
in St. Petersburg during the spring of 1900. Asa later moved to Tarpon Springs and
Tampa as he pursued other business opportunities.16
Wesley Brownell and Mary Pinder Lowe started a family in their new home.
Mary gave birth to Corinna Lois Lowe, their oldest child, on 28 April 1894 at the Lowe
House. Sumner Russell Lowe entered the world on 14 April 1902. Three years later, in
1905, the parents celebrated the arrival of Laura Miriam Lowe. Early that year, on 21
February 1905, Wesley mourned the loss of his mother, Laura Dorothy Meares Lowe.
They may have named their infant daughter in her honor. Young Laura often slept on a
brass bed with her cousin, Maurice, in the Lowe House. After the elder Laura's death,
Wesley built an addition to the Lowe House for his father, Captain J. T. Lowe, who had
15 Ibid.; Genealogical research appears in building files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo
switched from working as a mariner to growing fruit-especially citrus--on about
seventy acres of his land.17
The family constructed a small barn to hold supplies for its growing agricultural
operations. The exact date of this original structure remains unknown, though Wesley
may have built the barn shortly after the completing the Lowe House in the late 1880s.
This original barn sat close to the Lowe House. By 1911, the family decided to replace
the small barn with a larger structure, the barn presently located at Heritage Village.
Sumner Lowe, then a small child, recalled that the building of the new barn coincided
with the uproar throughout the Pinellas Peninsula as residents "declared their
independence" from Hillsborough. He remembered helping his father, Wesley, by
"handing wood up from the little barn" as the family used some of the best lumber from
the dismantled smaller barn for the present bar. Wesley procured additional lumber
from Hussey's sawmill in Largo, a business that operated near the Atlantic Coast Line
(former Orange Belt Railway) tracks and provided lumber for many early structures
during the 1910s. The family used part of the barn to store hay and kept horses and cows
in stalls on the other side of the structure. Sumner recalled that his father kept a horse-
drawn buggy and wagon in the barn before the family purchased an automobile. He later
parked his Model T Ford, a gift from his mother, in the barn near the cows and horses.18
By the time Pinellas received its independence from Hillsborough, members of
the extended Lowe family had established firm roots in Monroe, Pinellas, Hillsborough,
and Manatee counties. Many branches of the family continued to live in Key West, the
seat of Monroe County. Those who lived along the Pinellas Peninsula frequently visited
the Keys. For example, Corinna Lowe traveled to Key West in December 1913 with
plans "to spend several months" visiting family. Others came from the Keys to the
Tampa Bay region: Charles Lowe's wife spent time with kith and kin in Tampa. She also
enjoyed a visit with Robert McMullen's family in St. Petersburg in February 1916. V. S.
Lowe, Monroe County's superintendent of public instruction, paid a visit during the
spring of 1917 on his way back from a meeting in Lake City. He had previously visited
17 Genealogical research appears in building files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo; "The
Lowe House Architecture and Restoration" manuscript.
18 Sadie Johnson and Ken Ford, "Lowe Barn," undated manuscript, located in Heritage Village Library and
Archives, Largo; Largo, Then Til, 9. St. Petersburg Times, undated clipping (circa February 1977).
the central Pinellas about 1903, and mentioned the "many improvements" to the area that
he witnessed. After his stay, he traveled to Port Tampa to catch a P & O steamer to Key
West. Connections between the Lowe family and pioneer families of Manatee County
deserve further exploration. For example, John and Mary Elizabeth Lowe of Key West
had seven documented children, including a son named Stephen Francis Lowe. Born on
19 August 1872, Stephen spent two years in Brooklyn before moving to Fogartyville, a
small settlement along the Manatee River that took shape long before the incorporation of
Bradenton. Many members of the Fogarty family also had strong ties to Key West. On 26
April 1904, Stephen married Grace Fogarty. By 1908, Stephen and Grace moved to
Elizabeth Street in Key West to oversee the family's commercial interests.19
Meanwhile, Jefferson Theodore Lowe and many of his children lived along the
Pinellas Peninsula for most of their adult lives. In 1911, after the legislature approved the
separation of Pinellas County effective the following year, Governor Albert Gilchrist
appointed "Uncle Jeff" Lowe as one of five original members of the Pinellas County
Commission. Two years after his initial appointment, voters elected Jefferson to a second
term that ended in 1915. Jefferson maintained a busy schedule, balancing his duties on
the family land and at the post office with his countywide responsibilities. He frequently
visited with local civic groups and met with constituents. For example, he attended a
spring 1914 meeting of the Largo Board of Trade to describe plans for an improved road
between St. Petersburg and Largo. The editor of the Largo Sentinel visited "Uncle Jeff"
and his second wife, the former Barbara Ellen Hammock McMullen, in February 1915, at
the invitation of Angus McMullen, one of Barbara's children from her earlier marriage to
John Thomas McMullen. Angus chauffeured the editor and his family, while the Lowes
provided an "excellent and bountiful dinner" at noon. After their meal, the editor and
family members enjoyed a "delightful drive" from Anona to Indian Rocks along Lowe's
"excellent road." Victor Lowe, one of Uncle Jeff's sons, worked in a limestone quarry in
the area that provided rocks for the paving of Indian Rocks Road by the 1920s.
Meanwhile, Eugene M. Lowe worked as a locomotive engineer. In his later years, he
retired to 11534 Lowe Road in Anona, his home at the time of his death on 8 January
19 Largo Sentinel, 1 January 1914, 17 February 1916, 3 May 1917; Ollie Z. Fogarty, They CalledIt
Fogartyville: A Story of the Fogartys and Fogartyville (Brooklyn: Theo. Gaus' Sons, Inc., 1972), 214, 243;
1966. He passed away during a stay at Morton Plant Hospital. Newton P. Lowe left
Anona during some of his adult years to work as a marine engineer for P & O Steamship
Company out of Key West. Newton's wife, Madeline, became involved with the Anona
Methodist Woman's Society for Christian Service. She also served refreshments at group
gatherings. Emma participated in an early sewing circle for ladies by 1914. After a spur
of the Tampa and Gulf Coast ("Tug and Grunt") Railroad arrived at the present-day site
of Kolb Park in Indian Rocks Beach by the mid-1910s, Ernest Lowe operated a gasoline-
powered "dinky." Before her death in October 1939, Nellie became an active advocate
for the Anona Methodist church and community organizations. Jefferson remained active
well into his eighties and nineties: He rode his tricycle around Anona by the 1940s, lived
a moderate life, ate many vegetables, and abstained from alcohol. He only smoked on one
occasion; he lit a cigar while trying to rob a beehive of honey. After becoming ill from
the smoke, he never touched tobacco again. Jefferson passed away on 2 December 1952
at the age of ninety-six.20
While Jefferson remained in Anona, his brother Asa M. Lowe became an
important civic leader and public servant in Tarpon Springs. As a young man, A. M.
Lowe worked as a clerk in a St. Petersburg general store operated by John Constantine
"Tine" Williams, Jr., son of "General" John C. Williams. He later served as a cashier in
the Central National Bank and as an educator, and soon became president of Tarpon's
Sponge Exchange Bank. In this capacity, he worked closely with the Noblits, Vinsons,
Gauses, and other leading families of the community. He joined L. D. Vinson, Granville
E. Noblit, S. S. Coachman, John K. Cheyney and numerous other county leaders in
coordinating a daylong "Pinellas Patriotic Pageant" on 22 February 1918 with
appearances by Governor Sidney J. Catts and his wife at a number of events in Tarpon..
Between 1916 and 1920, A. M. Lowe represented the Tarpon Springs and north Pinellas
district of the county school board. In October 1919, he earned a seat on the Tarpon
Springs city commission, joining fellow members J. W. Alderman, W. E. Little, Willis
Clearwater News, 15 January 1914.
20 Sue Searcy Goldman, A History of the Board of County Commissioners of Pinellas County (Clearwater:
Pinellas County Government, 1996), 15; Largo Sentinel, 22 January 1914, 19 March 1914, 10 May 1951,
26 September 1957, 13 January 1966; St. Petersburg Times, 29 October 1939, 30 October 1939, 22
September 1957, 9 January 1966; Clearwater Sun, 29 October 1939, 22 September 1957; Indian Rocks
Area Historical Society, Indian Rocks, 42; Largo, Then Til, 8; Milton Logan interview.
Castaing, and Harry Shaw. The Tarpon Springs Leader often noted his frequent business
trips to Clearwater, Tampa, and other cities in the paper's "Local and Personal" column.
On occasion, his business commitments required journeys to distant venues. For example,
Asa and his wife drove to Miami in April 1921-long before the "good roads movement"
or the Tamiami Trail simplified the journey-to attend a meeting of the Florida Banker's
Association. No stranger to automobile travel in the days before highways or uniform
traffic laws, Asa took his wife and two children on a weeklong motor tour of cities along
Florida's east coast, traveling through Orlando, Sanford, New Smyrna, St. Augustine, and
Jacksonville. His meetings with other community leaders often combined business and
recreation. For example, Asa M. Lowe and Granville E. Noblit enjoyed a shark fishing
trip in 1921. After a long day, they rowed back to the dock at Dunedin and placed their
boat on a trailer. During the drive back to Tarpon, they experienced two flat tires; the
men did not get back to their homes until well after midnight. Unfazed by this
experience, they took a boat into the Gulf of Mexico for a tarpon fishing trip just a few
weeks later. While they enjoyed their time on the water, they remarked that "the
mosquitoes and sand-flies came near putting them out of business the first night."21
The family came together at Anona to mourn the passing of Captain John Thomas
Lowe in August 1921. Captain Lowe, who lived with Wesley at the Lowe House during
this time, became ill in July 1921. Asa M. Lowe drove his family from their home in
Tarpon to visit the family patriarch in mid-July. Though healthy and robust in his late
eighties, newspapers reported that he had recently suffered great pain after one of his
lower limbs erupted and he picked up an infection. On August 4, Captain Lowe "was up.
and about the place." At 7:30 the following morning, he passed away at the Lowe
House. The Captain's death on August 5 shook members of the family. "Uncle Jeff," the
Captain's son who sometimes appeared in early newspapers as "J. T. Lowe, Jr.," became
patriarch of the Anona branch of the family. By August 19, A. M. Lowe resigned his seat
on the Tarpon city commission, citing "conflicting business interests," though his father's
death may have played a role. To add insult to injury, shortly before vacating this office,
21 Pinellas County, Board of Public Instruction, The Golden Anniversary ofPinellas Schools, Celebrating
50 Years of Educational Progress; Superintendent's Semi-centennial Report, 1912-1962 (St. Petersburg:
Modem Printing & Publishing, 1962), 6; Tarpon Springs Leader, 11 February 1921, 20 April 1921, 22 June
robbers entered Asa's Tarpon Springs home and stole $80. Although Asa kept a gun in
the bedroom for protection, the stealth bandits came into the house and left without
Corinna Lowe Moves to Tarpon, Teaches Classes, and Falls in Love
Corinna Lowe, Wesley's daughter, decided to enter the teaching profession during
the mid-1910s. Kith and kin around Anona assembled at the home of Emma Lowe on 28
April 1914 to throw a surprise twentieth birthday party for Corinna. A few weeks later,
Corinna traveled with her father to Sutherland, now Palm Harbor, to attend
commencement ceremonies at Sutherland College. By the fall of 1915, she joined her
mother as a member of the Anona school's parent-teachers' association (PTA). Corinna
volunteered as secretary of the Anona PTA, while mother Mary Louise served as the
organization's vice president. She spent four months in St. Petersburg during the spring
of 1916 attending a training institute for teachers. She enjoyed a weeklong visit to Bert
McMullen's family in Bay View that summer while preparing for her next round of tests.
Corinna spent much of the first week of September 1916 taking teacher certification
examinations in Clearwater. After passing the tests, she received an appointment to teach
the fifth grade class at Tarpon Springs Elementary School. She continued to teach fifth
grade during the 1917-1918 school year, and probably continued to work at the school
through the 1921 school year; in May 1921, she took her fifth grade class to a Saturday
picnic at Wall Springs. Her younger sister, Laura Miriam Lowe, came to Tarpon by late
May and attended the elementary school's commencement exercises. The Tarpon Springs
Leader mentioned many visits by Laura to her older sister's Tarpon residence during the
early 1920s. By early June, after the end of the school year, Corinna returned to Anona
with her cousin, Marion Lowe, for an extended stay at the Lowe House.23
Corinna apparently spent much of her free time in Tarpon with her uncle, Asa M.
Lowe, and his family. She often accompanied them on automobile trips throughout
1921, 22 July 1921, 19 August 1921; Tarpon Springs Evening Leader, 8 July 1918, Largo Sentinel, 7
February 1918, 6 April 1950.
22 Tarpon Springs Leader, 15 July 1921, 5 August 1921, 17 August 1921, 19 August 1921.
23 Largo Sentinel, 21 May 1914, 21 October 1915, 18 May 1916, 13 July 1916, 14 September 1916;
Tarpon Springs Progressive, 16 September 1917; Tarpon Springs Leader, 7 February 1921, 9 May 1921,
23 May 1921, 3 June 1921; Tarpon Springs Evening Leader, 14 May 1918.
Florida. For example, Corinna joined A. M. Lowe's family and other in-laws for a
March 1918 trip to Tampa. They made the journey in part to witness an exceptionally
large fish that attracted much curiosity. Before its final disposition, the fish also went on
exhibition in St. Petersburg a few days later, where interested parties could witness the
specimen after paying an admission charge of fifty cents, a hefty sum at that time.
Corinna also assisted with social activities at the A. M. Lowe house. In May 1918, she
became the hostess for a gathering of Epworth League members for the local church held
at A. M. Lowe's home. These events increased the young woman's visibility in Tarpon;
soon she met a newcomer to the community and fell in love.24
Corinna Lowe caught the eye of Maurice P. Condrick, a Pennsylvania native and
recent transplant to the city. Born in the Bryn Mawr-Haverford area just west of
Philadelphia, Maurice entered the world on 11 February 1890. As a young man, he joined
the United States Navy and rose to the rank of lieutenant during World War I. He moved
to Ocala after the war ended and engaged in commerce. He arrived in Tarpon by the
spring of 1922. Although documents examined do not indicate where he met Corinna, he
may have had his first encounter with her at the local post office. By early 1922, Corinna
had left the classroom to accept a job at the Tarpon post office. By early January 1923,
Wesley and Mary announced the engagement of Corinna to Maurice Condick. Within a
month, Corinna and Maurice-partners who had "a wide acquaintanceship among the
younger set" of Tarpon residents-tied the knot in a noontime ceremony in Tampa.
Before returning to their home on Levis Street, they took a honeymoon trip that covered
the circuit of local relatives: They ventured to Anona, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, and
Sarasota. The Condricks raised two sons. Corinna gave birth to their eldest son, John
Wesley, on 2 June 1924. On 19 October 1926, Maurice and Corinna celebrated the arrival
of Frances Joseph. By this time, the Condricks had moved from Tarpon Springs to a St.
Petersburg residence located at 974 Fourth Street South, near Bayboro Harbor.25
At about this time, Sumner Lowe made a long-distance and short-term journey.
By the time he reached his early twenties, Sumner had seldom traveled even as far as
24 Tarpon Springs Evening Leader, 18 March 1918.
25 St. Petersburg Times, 28 May 1970; Tarpon Springs Leader, 9 January 1923, 2 February 1923.
Genealogical research appears in building files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo. Residence
Tampa. When a young doctor and his wife asked Sumner if he could drive them to
California in the early 1920s, he felt the wanderlust and received Wesley's permission.
The trip in a Model T Ford took three weeks as they followed the southern route through
the American Southwest, driving through Tucson and Phoenix before arriving in Los
Angeles. While traveling through Texas, Sumner frequently had to open and close cattle
gates along the roadway and open range of Texas. During his eighteen months in
California, Lowe seldom saw the waterfront and frequently kept two fulltime jobs. Tired
of his Western adventure, Sumner returned to Pinellas County, joined the Masonic Lodge
in June 1926, became an early member of the Clearwater Lions Club at their
organizational meeting in August 1931 at Seven Gables, operated a restaurant on North
Garden Avenue in Clearwater, served as a Clearwater city commissioner from 1941
though 1945, and sold Buicks for over thirty years at local dealerships.26
Wesley Lowe suffered the loss of two close family members in 1925. His wife,
Mary Louise Pinder Lowe, died on February 15. His youngest child, Laura Miriam Lowe,
also died in 1925. Wesley probably became the sole occupant of the once-crowded Lowe
House by this time. After these deaths, Sumner returned to the family homestead in
Anona. He may have lived there until his wedding to Joanna Brandon on 14 September
1929. After their marriage, Sumner and Joanna moved to a house on Drew Street in
Clearwater. At some point after Mary's death, Wesley decided to marry her sister, the
former Anne Pinder Martin-Vegue, who came to the area from Miami. She remained
Wesley's companion until he passed away in January 1942.27
A Family with Connections throughout the Region
Although many of the pioneer settlers had passed away by the 1920s, ties
remained strong among the original families of the Anona area. In the mid-1920s,
members of early families-most notably the McMullens and the Meares clans-began
to hold reunions that attracted hundred of members. Beginning on Thanksgiving Day,
1927, over 125 members of the Meares family assembled for their first annual reunion.
information for the Condricks appeared in annual issues of R. L. Polk's St. Petersburg (Pinellas County,
Fla.) City Directory.
26 St. Petersburg Times, 14 August 1982.
Four generations of descendants of Richard and William Meares, and Laura Meares
Lowe, congregated at Indian Rocks Beach. William "Uncle Billy" Meares, patriarch of
this family, considered the gathering an excellent way of "bringing the members together
and celebrating in a fitting manner" their contributions to the Pinellas Peninsula. People
came from throughout Florida for this reunion: about forty relatives traveled from St.
Petersburg, forty from the Seminole-Largo area, and the rest from other Pinellas
settlements, Hillsborough County, Jacksonville, and even Key West. Wesley and
Jefferson Lowe enjoyed the assembly, one that featured "an old fashioned picnic" with
plenty of roast duck and turkey. During the second reunion on Thanksgiving Day, 1928,
old-timers mentioned that the Meares "boys" had helped collect some of the shells and
Indian relics gathered in the region by the Smithsonian Institution. Seventy members
attended the third gathering, held at the county fair grounds in Largo. They enjoyed
duck, crab meat, and other homemade delicacies. Jefferson Lowe hosted a Thanksgiving
reunion in 1933 with a noontime meal and music provided by members of John
McMullen's Clearwater family. At these reunions, older members passed along their
family history to the younger generation. For example, at the seventh gathering in 1934,
"Uncle Billy" Meares described how he left Anona for Tampa during the Civil War to
avoid capture by Union soldiers, while Richard "Uncle Dickie" Meares mentioned that
Union sailors had forced him to launch the family sloop Osceola that the family had
hidden along Indian Rocks. During this reunion, Maurice Condrick-related to he clan by
his marriage to Corinna Lowe-read about other incidents during the Civil War from a
family diary. By the fifth generation, members of the Meares family had married many
other pioneer families. In addition to the close connections with the Lowes, they had tied
the knot with the Campbells, S. D.(Samuel Davis) Harris's sister, McMullens,
Walsinghams, Belchers, Booths, Hammocks, and Wilcoxs, to name a few. A genealogy
of the Meares family provides a web that connected many families of the Pinellas
27 Genealogical research appears in building files, Heritage Village Library and Archives, Largo; "Wesley
Lowe House" pamphlet; St. Petersburg Times, 14 April 1982; Milton Logan interview.
28 St. Petersburg Times, 25 November 1927, 30 November 1928,2 January 1930, 3 December 1933, 2
January 1934; Largo Sentinel, 4 January 1934.
The Condricks of St. Petersburg, and Changes in Anona
Maurice P. and Corinna Lowe Condrick raised their children in St. Petersburg as
other family members entered new phases of their lives. By 1929, the Condrick family
had moved from the Bayboro area home to a residence at 767-15th Avenue South. They
following year and for most of the next two decades, the Condricks lived at 1120-15th
Avenue South. During this period, Maurice worked as a plumber. He often made it a
tradition on Memorial Day to place flags on the gravesites of Civil War veterans at
cemeteries in southern St. Petersburg. As young John and Francis Condrick started
primary school, Asa M. Lowe retired as president of a Tarpon Springs bank in 1929 and
moved to a home at 1818 Watrous Avenue in the Hyde Park area of Tampa by the early
1930s. Asa's daughter, Marion Jennie Lowe, married Melster Byrd McMullen, son of Dr.
Byrd McMullen of Clearwater, in an April 1932 ceremony in Tampa. Marion, a native of
Tarpon Springs, had moved to Tampa several years earlier, probably after completing her
studies at the Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee and Florida Southern
College in Lakeland. Melster, a native of Clearwater, attended Emory University. By
1933, Asa and Mary Lowe, and their son Earl, moved to a home on 1309 South Rome
Avenue, just three blocks away from Mary's unmarried sisters, Katherine and Faith
Stowell. Although retired from the bank in Tarpon Springs, by 1933 Asa worked as the
treasurer for the National Thrift Organization of Florida, located at 309 Franklin Street in
downtown Tampa. Before his death in April 1950, Asa moved in with Melster and
Marion Lowe McMullen at their Lakeland home. Meanwhile, by the fall of 1933, Milton
Logan became the tender of the old Indian Rocks Bridge.29
Elder pioneers of the Meares family passed away by 1940. George W. Meares,
brother of Richard and William Meares, originally came to the Anona area about 16
October 1861, possibly to get away from the Union troops controlling Key West during
the Civil War; he first moved to Clear Water Harbor, then purchased land near present-
day Lakeview Avenue (22nd Avenue South) in St. Petersburg by 1878 as a newlywed
with his wife, the former Ellen Louisa Leonardy. At the time he arrived at his tract near
29 Residence information for the Condricks appeared in annual issues of R. L. Polk's St. Petersburg
(Pinellas County, Fla.) City Directory, while Asa M. Lowe appeared in editions of R. L. Polk's Tampa
(Hillsborough County, Fla.) City Directory; St. Petersburg Times, 10 December 1933, 28 May 1970;
Tarpon Springs Leader, 15 April 1932, 22 April 1932; Largo Sentinel, 6 April 1950.
Lake Maggiore, about seven families lived along that area of the southern Pinellas
Peninsula. According to W. L. Straub's 1929 history of Pinellas, George had advocated
that Hillsborough County commissioners set aside rights-of-way for early roadways in
the region, including Lakeview and Tangerine avenues, and Ninth and Disston streets.
Disston was renamed 49th Street by the mid-1920s. George died in early 1930. A few
months later, in mid-September, Richard T. Meares died at his home in Indian Rocks.
Wesley and Jefferson Lowe served as pall bearers at his Anona funeral. Shortly before
she and her husband-"Uncle Billy" Meares-would have celebrated their sixty-seventh
anniversary, Amanda Kilgore Meares passed away in February 1938. At the time of her
death, Amanda and W. F. Meares were the oldest married couple in Pinellas County.
Later that year, someone entered Uncle Billy's name in a contest sponsored by the
Florida Theatre and the St. Petersburg Times to locate the oldest Pinellas resident who
had never watched a motion picture show. Of the twenty-three entries submitted, the
nonagenarian from Anona won the prize: He received a check for five dollars and two
tickets to see a movie at the Florida Theatre. When asked why he had never entered a
movie palace, W. F. Meares replied he "never had been interested in such." In late April
1940, death came to "Uncle Billy" Meares, the Key West native and longtime citrus
grower and sawmill operator who first arrived in the area with Captain J. T. Lowe.30
By the time Wesley Lowe died in January 1942, family members had sold most of
their land holdings around Lowe's Landing. Although older brother and Key West native
Jefferson T. Lowe outlived him by more than a decade, Wesley's death marked the
passing of the oldest native of the Pinellas Peninsula at that time. Ill for three weeks, he
died after leaving his home to recuperate at Morton F. Plant Hospital. Primary builder of
the Lowe House, many at the time remembered Wesley for his leadership among citrus
growers, his generosity in donating family lands for the cemetery and Methodist church
at Anona, and the delicious bread he baked for his neighbors. A rough-spoken yet quiet
man, what Wesley lacked in formal education he possessed with his good temper and
"heart of gold." Long before his death, Wesley had met with Abraham Merritt, a
magazine editor and publisher from New York. Sometime in the mid-1930s, the Lowes
30 William L. Straub, History ofPinellas County, Florida: Narrative and Biographical (St. Augustine: The
Record Company, 1929), 386; Largo Sentinel, 18 September 1930; 11 February 1938, 6 September 1938;
sold the site of the Lowe House and barn to the Merritts, who soon turned the area into a
tropical garden. Wesley then moved in with Milton Logan, his next-door neighbor at the
time. The barn provided an excellent storage area for equipment, fertilizer, and materials
required to maintain the citrus and exotic plants. During this period, Eleanor Merritt lived
in the Lowe House. Arnold Miller, his wife, and two sons-Ralph and Ronnie-also
occupied one of the former Lowe homes and groves in the Anona area by 1950-1951.31
Moving the House, Piece by Piece
Corinna Lowe Condrick became interested in the fate of her home by the late
1940s. According to her husband's 1970 obituary, Maurice served in the Navy and the
Merchant Marine during World War II. Between 1944 and 1948, city directories do not
place the Condricks at the 15th Avenue South address, though Corinna and her sons may
have continued to live there during this time. By 1948, Abraham Merritt passed away and
his widow sold the old Lowe property in Anona to Dr. Hugh Ford and Paul F. Randolph.
Renamed Ranford Properties, this parcel provided the Randolphs land for their farm
animals, while Hugh Ford took control of the groves. Longtime owner of a Clearwater
real estate firm, Randolph co-founded the Carlouel Yacht Club in 1934 and oversaw the
development of the Carlouel subdivision along northern Clearwater Beach. At some point
before the end of 1949, Corinna learned that the Ranford interests had no use for the
Lowe House, and planned to remove it. Concerned that her birth home might become
little more than scrap wood, Corinna worked with her husband to obtain the home from
Anona and have it placed on land they owned in St. Petersburg along the 800 block of
37th Street North. The 1949 city directory lists that site as "under construction,"
indicating that Maurice may have started to clear and improve the tract by that time.
According to a retrospective article written by longtime St. Petersburg Times columnist
Dick Bothwell, Maurice paid a few hundred dollars to Randolph for the Lowe House, and
numbered the boards as he took the home apart. By 1950, Maurice had arranged to have
the home disassembled and moved to their property at 800 37th Street North. For an
27 April 1940.
31 St. Petersburg Times, 23 January 1942; Tarpon Springs Leader, 23 January 1942; Clearwater Sun, 23
January 1942; Largo Sentinel, 6 April 1950, 29 March 1951; Johnson and Ford, "Lowe Barn," undated
manuscript; Milton Logan interview.
unknown period of time, the Condricks patiently reconstructed their jigsaw-puzzle home
while continuing to occupy their primary residences at 1120 15h Avenue South.
Directories listed Corinna and Maurice at their 15th Avenue South residence until 1953;
the following year, they resided at the rebuilt Lowe House on 37h Street, though their son
Francis continued to live at the former house during that year. By the time they occupied
the 1880s structure, the home had electrical wires (originally added by the 1920s), a gas
heater, an interior bathroom (rather than an outhouse), running water in the kitchen, and a
The Condricks enjoyed their later years while Randolph's farming operations
prospered. Corinna and Maurice watched a subdivision sprout up around their house.
They witnessed the construction of the new "main branch" of the St. Petersburg Public
Library across the street from their home, along Ninth Avenue North. Their sons had
completed college and started successful businesses as doctors. John worked as a
professor of veterinary medicine for the University of California in Davis, California,
while his brother Francis established a dental practice in Rockville, Maryland. Both
children had decided to change the spelling of their last name from Condrick to
"Kendrick" at the request of their father, Maurice, who believed that the new spelling was
easier for others to remember. By the early 1960s, Ford had decided to sell his share in
Randford Properties to the Randolph family. Randolph Farms operated as a successful
ranch during the 1950s and 1960s. John C. King, an employee of Randolph for twenty-
two years, frequently herded cattle across the quiet and sparsely traveled Indian Rocks
Road in the early 1950s from the site of a pasture at present-day Serenity Gardens
Memorial Park to nearby dipping vats. With their numerous show horses and farm
animals, the Randolphs probably added the extension to the Lowe barn in the 1940s or
early 1950s. According to one story discovered by longtime Largo historian Sadie
Johnson, a lumber company originally sold the Italian pine used for this extension to a
church. When builders learned that a sawmill had cut the lumber improperly, the church
agreed to sell it to Paul Randolph. With the expansion complete, King claimed that the
32 Residence information for the Condricks appeared in annual issues ofR. L. Polk's St. Petersburg
(Pinellas County, Fla.) City Directory; St. Petersburg Times, 28 May 1970,20 July 1970; Johnson and
Ford, "Lowe Barn," undated manuscript; "The Lowe House Architecture and Restoration," undated
barn easily accommodated fifty tons of hay. By the mid 1960s, Randolph had sold parts
of the land, including a section of the pasture that became the cemetery at Serenity
Gardens in 1964. As new homes and subdivisions appeared on portions of the Lowe's
original homestead along Indian Rocks Road, a matriarch of the family passed away:
Corinna Lowe Condrick died on 8 December 1967 while visiting John's home in
An Uncertain Future and Another Move
With the death of Maurice Condrick in May 1970, the Lowe House once again
faced possible demolition. Edward P. Landt, a St. Petersburg realtor and construction
company owner, took control of the property and planned to build an apartment complex
on the site. With the main branch of the St. Petersburg Public Library across the street
and other new subdivisions planned nearby, Landt saw the economic potential of the
property. Realizing the house's history, he and John Kendrick contacted the St.
Petersburg Historical Society to offer them the house if that organization could raise
funds to move the house by the end of June at its liability. The Kendrick children agreed
to donate the furnishings as well as the structure to the society. Oma Cross, curator at the
St. Petersburg Museum of History and a long-time friend of the Condricks, visited the
house in early June. A St. Petersburg Times article claimed that while supervising the
removal of non-historical items by the Salvation Army, Cross looked through cupboards,
boxes, and drawers "with all the adventurous spirit of Columbus." In addition to an old
pair of ice skates, she located a linen-backed map of St. Petersburg dating to 1925. With
utilities disconnected in the house, the teetotaling curator washed the dust from her hands
with an unfinished bottle of gin. Meanwhile, Walter Fuller-a society director-told
members that "(w)e should do anything we can to save it" and start an "all-out public
campaign" to raise funds. Fuller, who had visited the site in early June, told members that
the house contained "four trunks of virtually untouched Floridiana," as well as an
manuscript; Michael Sanders, Clearwater: A Pictorial History (Norfolk: Donning, 1983), 134, 182. See
page 182 of Sanders's Clearwater history for a reproduction of a 1955 brochure from Randolph Farms.
Johnson and Ford, "Lowe Barn," undated manuscript; Largo Sentinel, 14 December 1967; Clearwater
Sun, 10 December 1967; St. Petersburg Times, 9 December 1967, 20 July 1970, undated clipping (circa
February 1977); Largo, Then Til, 9.