Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Pinellas

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Location:S.R. 679 on Cabbage Key
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: A Large Indian burial mound was built on this spot about 1500 A.D. It was used for some years by the inhabitants of a nearby Safety Harbor culture village, Indians who were among the ancestors of the later Timucua tribe. Excavation in 1961 by State agencies added to our knowledge of these people.
Location:3747 34th St. S.
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: Oldest church in Pinellas County, it was organized April 20, 1887. It was constructed in the summer of 1887 by a handful of pioneers equipped with crude tools. Built of unturpentined pine, Church records indicate the first building cost $673. Dr. John B.Abercrombie donated an acre of land for the church April 28, 1887. The original Church building has since been enlarged and is still used for regular services.
Sponsors: In Cooperation with St. Bartholomew's Memorial Committee
Location:Dodecanese Blvd. at Docks across from Sponge Exchange
County: Pinellas
City: Tarpon Springs
Description: Side 1: The Gulf waters off the west coast of Florida north of Tampa Bay comprise one of the few areas of the world where the species of natural sponges suitable for commercial use are found. The natural sponge industry in Tarpon Springs dates from about 1890 when John K. Cheyney launched his first sponge-fishing boat. Sponges were retrieved by hooking until the technique of diving for sponges was introduced in 1905 by John Cocoris, a recent immigrant from Greece, where the practice of sponge diving was common. Within a few years, many Greeks had arrived in the area to work in the sponging industry. Side 2: The Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange was incorporated in 1908 as a shareholding organization to provide for the storage and sale of sponges. The peak of prosperity for the Tarpon Springs sponge industry came in the 1930's. In 1939 the sponge beds in the area suffered from a disease which substantially reduced the crop of healthy sponges for several years. In spite of the decline in the sponge industry, the Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange has continued to serve as a focal point for the Greek Community.
Sponsors: Sponsored by City of Tarpon Springs, Florida In Cooperation With Department of State
Location:S.R. 699 near Passe-a-Grille Beach
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: In the late 1920's and the 1930's, the Don Ce Sar Hotel was a renowned luxury resort which counted many notables among its guests. Thomas J. Rowe, a land developer, conceived of the establishment in the mid-20's at the height of the land sales boom then attracting flocks of tourists and investors to Florida. The "Boom" ended before the Don Ce Sar was completed in 1928, but it remained open throughout the Depression of the 1930's. During World War II, many Florida hotels suffering from the decline of tourism were converted to wartime uses. In 1942, the Don was purchased by the U.S. Government for use as a rest and rehabilitation center. From 1945 to 1967, the Don served as a federal office building. It was then vacated. Soon a committee of local citizens began to work for its preservation. In 1972, with their encouragement and community support, hotel developer William Bowman, Jr. purchased the property. He rehabilitated the Don, restoring it to its original function and elegance, and reopened it in 1973. Restoration was completed in 1975. In that year, the Don Ce Sar Hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The massive edifice of stuccoed Belgian concrete remains a symbol of the colorful, exciting "Boom" period of Florida's history.
Sponsors: Sponsored by William Bowman, jr. in cooperation with department of state
Location:on grounds of Albert Whitted Municipal Airport,
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: Within a decade after the famous Wright Brothers' 1903 flight, aviation history was being made in Florida. The first transcontinental flight landed at Jacksonville in 1912, a naval air training center opened at Pensacola in 1913, and the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, the world's first regularly scheduled commercial airline, began service in 1914. Tom Benoist, a pioneer airboat (seaplane) manufacturer from St. Louis, started this cargo and passenger airline as well as a flying school on Tampa Bay. Backed by members of the St. Petersburg Board of Trade, he built hangars on the north edge of the yacht basin. Anthony "Tony" Jannus, Benoist's head pilot, took the airline's first passenger, former mayor A. C. Pheil, across the bay in a biplane on January 1, 1914. Pheil's high bid of $400 at an auction held before the flight brought him this honor. The twenty mile maiden flight of the new service took twenty-three minutes to complete. A few days later, a light cargo was for the first time flown across the bay. The activities of this airline demonstrated that air travel was practical although services were discontinued after only a few months due to financial and technical difficulties.
Sponsors: sponsored by the st. petersburg arts commission in cooperation with department of state
Location:S.R. 60.
County: Pinellas
City: Clearwater
Description: On October 9, 1933 Clearwater's first government post office building was dedicated on this site with Postmaster General James A. Farley officiating. The local postmaster at the time was Charles R. Lee. This Mediterranean-Revival style building was designed by Clearwater architect Theodore Skinner, and built by the Palm Beach construction firm of Walt and Sinclair of Florida. It is representative of the 1930's federal works projects which reflected regional design influence and commissioned local professionals and industries. The exterior finish of the building is oolitic limestone quarried in the Florida Keys. The post office was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the Clearwater Historical Society in cooperation with the Department of State
Location:At Bay Avenue and Druid Road W.
County: Pinellas
City: Clearwater
Description: Harbor Oaks was Clearwater's first planned residential development. Dean Alvord, a major developer in New York State, opened Harbor Oaks in 1914. Bringing modern planning concepts to the Pinellas County area, the development offered innovative features such as underground utilities, paved streets, curbs and sidewalks, a sewer system, and tree lined parkways. Deed restrictions ensured a rich architectural mix of mostly two story homes including fine examples of Mediterranean Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Mission and Bungalow styles. Local newspapers called Harbor Oaks "the Riviera of the Sunny South" and "the finest shore development on the West coast of Florida". The development was essentially completed by 1930. Harbor Oaks has been the home of such prominent persons as author Rex Beach, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Charles Ebbett, inventor Donald Roebling, industrialist Robert Ingersoll, and members of the Studebaker and Proctor and Gamble families. The Harbor Oaks Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Sponsors: The Clearwater Historical Society in Cooperation with the Florida Department of State
Location:105 North Bayshore Dr.
County: Pinellas
City: Safety Harbor
Description: On May 18, 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the shores of what is now Tampa Bay, landing near these mineral springs used by the native population for nearly 10,000 years. Believing he had found the legendary Fountain of Youth somehow missed by Ponce de Leon, de Soto established a camp here, naming the crystal clear waters Espiritu Santa Springs - "Springs of the Holy Spirit." Each of the five springs located on this site was identified and said to cure certain ailments, a claim drawing thousands of visits yearly to the "Health Giving City" of Safety Harbor. The Safety Harbor Sanitorium opened its doors here in 1926, offering porcelain bath tubs and a large swimming pool for "taking the waters". In 1945 the springs and sanitorium were sold to Dr. Salem H. Baranoff, who opened the facility as a health spa. Today the springs continue to attract health-conscious travelers.
Sponsors: The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa and Florida Department of State
Location:Bayshore Dr. SE & Demens Landing SE
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: This city park is located on the site of the first railroad pier in St. Petersburg, built by Peter Demens in 1889. Peter Demens (pronounced de-MENS) was a Russian nobleman, Pyotr Dementyev, who left Russia in 1881, came to Florida, and changed his name to Demens. He became an entrepreneur, investing in a sawmill and a construction company in Longwood, Florida. Later he took control of the Orange Belt Railroad, which he extended from Sanford, Florida to the west coast of Florida in 1888, to a town he had named St. Petersburg, in honor of the capital city of Imperial Russia. Demens also built the first hotel, The Detroit, and the first railroad depot in St. Petersburg in 1888, and is considered one of the founders of the city. Demens Landing was dedicated as a city park to honor Demens in 1977.
Location:1st Ave. NW between Beach Dr. & 1st St. NE
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: In 1923 construction began on Soren Lund's "Million Dollar" Mediterranean Revival hotel. Prominent features were its clay-tiled roof, rough textured stucco, baroque-type arched entrance and sqraffito decorations. It encompassed the north half of the 100 block of Beach Drive. Noted regional architect Geoffrey Lloyd Preacher designed the Hotel. The Soreno, named for Lund's only son, was finished, and the majority of its rooms leased prior to the opening of the 1924 tourist season. Its completion established a new elegance on the downtown waterfront. The Soreno was the first of ten grand hotels built between 1923 and 1926, which defined St. Petersburg as a winter tourist destination, and was the climax of the Florida land boom in the 1920s. The unusual addition of a seventh floor was completed in 1929, bringing the total number of rooms to 300. Lund's lifelong experience and reputation in the hotel industry kept the hotel full throughout his ownership. During World War II, the Soreno was occupied by servicemen, then operated as a winter season hotel until it was closed in 1984. It was demolished in 1992.
Sponsors: St. Petersburg Heritage Trust, JMC Communities, and the Florida Department of State
Location:Corner of Pass-a-Grille Way and 7th Ave
County: Pinellas
City: St. Petersburg
Description: In 1783, while updating Gulf Coast navigational charts, Jose Antonio de Evia (b.1740), a Spanish naval officer, visited a Spanish fishing camp located on this site. He called it “Rancho de Juaquin.” Artifacts from the 18th and early 19th centuries, now in the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum in St. Pete Beach, indicate fishermen used this camp and its water well until the 1840s. In 1918, when digging the house foundation at 612 Pass-a-Grille Way, a complete Spanish olive jar was discovered. It was donated to the St. Petersburg Museum of History in 1951, but was authenticated as being from this site in 1999. Zephaniah Phillips (1837-1903) was a Union Army veteran who with his family became the barrier islands’ first permanent settlers when they homesteaded here in 1886. The Phillips’ home built that year was moved from 612 to 608 Pass-a-Grille Way in 1918. It was Pass-a-Grille’s first home and one of the first built on Pinellas’s Gulf Beaches.
Location:Jasmine Ave.
County: Pinellas
City: Tarpon Springs
Description: Rose Cemetery, also known as Rose Hill Cemetery, established in the early 1900s as a segregated cemetery, is the oldest African-American cemetery in Pinellas County. Located on approximately five acres of land, the cemetery reflects the social history and cultural traditions associated with Christianity and early African-American customs. Many of the African-Americans buried here were of Bahamian descent, and some of their graves are marked by large conch shells. Although the earliest grave marked states 1904, there are strong indications of earlier burials. Rose Hill Cemetery Association was first incorporated on November 22, 1916, when the Lake Butler Villa Company gave the African-American board members a 99-year lease. The following year, in 1917, the property was deeded to the Association. Through the 1950s Rose Cemetery served other black communities throughout the county. Many difficulties through those years, including destroyed records, haphazard burials, and limited funding, resulted in many unmarked and misplaced graves. Significant burials included the founders of the local African-American churches started in the 1890s, and an African American Confederate Civil War veteran, Richard Quarls (1830-1925).
Location:1401 61st St. So.
County: Pinellas
City: Gulfport
Description: Florida’s First Law School - Built as the Hotel Rolyat in 1925, these Mediterranean Revival buildings originally were designed by Paul Reed of the Miami architectural firm of Kiehnel & Elliot for developer Jack Taylor. In 1929, after the collapse of the Florida land boom, the hotel was purchased by the Mendels brothers from New York. They operated the hotel until 1932, when they purchased the Florida Military Academy and relocated it to the site. Dr. John Forbes, the first President of Stetson University, recognized a need for a law school, and in 1900, Stetson University opened Florida’s first law school in DeLand. When the College of Law needed larger facilities in a metropolitan area, Stetson University purchased this property in 1953 and relocated the law school to Gulfport. Classes began on this site on September 20, 1954.
Location:1050 Palm Boulevard
County: Pinellas
City: Dunedin
Description: At the peak of the 1920s “land boom,” Dunedin Isles Golf Club was built to attract new residents to the City of Dunedin. Scotsman Donald Ross, one of the world’s foremost golf course architects, visited the site and designed the golf course which opened on January 1, 1927. During the Great Depression, the Club fell on hard times and in 1938, the course was deeded to the City with the stipulation that it be used for “recreational purposes.” The City was able to renovate the course with proceeds from the sale of Dunedin Isles residential lots. On July 1, 1945, the Club officially became the PGA (Professional Golf Association) National Golf Club, first home course of PGA of America. The PGA held its Senior Tour Championship here from 1945-1962 during which time golfers competed for the historic Teacher’s Trophy and the inaugural PGA Merchandise Show was held here in 1954. Many legendary PGA and LPGA professionals played here, including Tommy Armour, Patty Berg, Bobby Cruickshank, Jimmy Demaret, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Sam Snead, Louise Suggs, Cyril Walker, Al Watrous and Babe Zaharias. Other players include golfing great Bobby Jones and baseball legend Babe Ruth.
Location:900 N. Nartin Luther King Jr. Avenue
County: Pinellas
City: Clearwater
Description: In 1922, the Brooklyn Dodgers agreed to hold their spring training in Clearwater with the provision that the city would create an appropriate venue. The city broke ground on the Clearwater Athletic Field in December 1922 following the City Council’s decision to issue $25,000 in bonds to construct the field and a 2,000-seat wooden grandstand. Home plate was located at what is now the intersection of Pennsylvania Ave. and Seminole St., left field ran parallel to Palmetto St., and right field ran parallel to N. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. Players dressed in a wooden clubhouse off the third-base line, stayed downtown at the New Fort Harrison Hotel, and walked to and from practice. Professional and minor league teams that made the field their training home included the Brooklyn Dodgers (1923-32; 1936-41), Clearwater Pelicans (1924), Newark Bears (1933-35), Cleveland Indians (1942 and 1946), Clearwater Bombers professional softball (1945-54), Philadelphia Phillies (1947-54) and the Negro League Clearwater Black Sox (1952). The athletic field grandstand was destroyed by fire in 1956, but this remaining field was sometimes used for team practice and as a parking lot for games at nearby Jack Russell Stadium.
Sponsors: City of Clearwater, The Philadelphia Phillies