The Historic Hernando Preservation Society will dedicate a State Historical Marker near Centralia Road and Commercial Way in Hernando County on Saturday, September 23rd @ 10 AM. Centralia was a large logging and mill town which existed in Hernando County over one hundred years ago. Although now a ghost town, this short lived town of Centralia had an impact on Hernando County’s history to this day. The dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 23 @ 10AM. Light refreshments will be served. The ceremony will be held approximately 6 miles north of Weeki Wachee, just south of Centralia Road on Commercial Way. This event is sponsored by the Historic Hernando Preservation Society.
WHAT: Dedication ceremony of State Historical Marker for the TOWN OF CENTRALIA
WHEN: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 10AM
WHERE: Centralia Road and Commercial Way, approximately 6 miles north of Weeki Wachee.
by: Mary J. Moses
Historic Hernando Preservation Society ventured to Tarpon Springs Saturday, September 24th. The group was there to take in the museums, shops and fabulous food Tarpon Springs had to offer. The trip, in itself, was a nod to the fifty Greek sponge divers who left Tarpon Springs in 1910 for a new life in Centralia.
Centralia beckoned people from the silver and gold booms to a new resource, red Tidewater cypress. The seemingly inexhaustible supply drew workers from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Canada, and yes, Tarpon Springs. Centralia, born in 1910, was named after a lumbering and agricultural town by the same name in Wisconsin. It’s many workers, 1,500 in number, required services which Centralia gladly provided. Centralia boasted a one room school house where about two dozen pupils attended, it doubled as a church for Protestants and Catholics. There was a boarding house, the Centralia Hotel and a restaurant called the Hungry None, which served meals day and night. A drug store and a movie house called the Flicker Palace flanked its streets. Centralia was best known for George Gambles Commissary. The huge store supplied dry goods and hardware needs to the town, it stayed open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It carried more stock than any retail store in Tampa or Jacksonville.
Edgar Roberts who owned the Central Cypress Lumber Company, had the most efficiently run saw mill in the area. Double band saws cut rough timber into finished boards. Power for winching and sawing was provided by large steam boilers. Logs were hauled in by train, dumped into a pond, and floated to the mill. Yet, due to the lack of land management, the lumber source ran out in six short years. In 1917 Centralia had 160 acres of land stacked with lumber piles 15 feet high. The mill could turn out 100,000 board feet a day, and on many days it did, but no more.
Centralia’s final whistle blew on the last day of operation when Robert’s daughter “Queen” pulled it for the last time in 1917. The sound meant to call loggers to work now signaled Centralia’s end. Centralia officially closed on December 11, 1922 with the closing of the Post Office. Today, all that remains of this once vibrant logging town are the float pond and the ramp up which the great logs were winched, the concrete slab where the water tower stood, and the brick foundations of the sawmill and depot.
Historic Hernando Preservation Society is currently working on a project to place the nearly forgotten history of Centralia on a Historic Marker. Centralia was located 4-1/2 miles north of Weeki Wachee Springs and east of US 19 Highway, just north of Tooke Lake. The Historic Marker project should be completed in 2017. Donations for the marker can be made on the Centralia Marker Page. You can learn more about Historic Hernando Preservation Society by visiting their web page at historichernandopreservationsociety.org.
The Hernando Historical Museum Association invited the Historic Hernando Preservation Society for a croquet match on the lawn of the May Stringer House, Sunday, August 28th. The event was to encourage growing friendships as well as provide a pastime of a by-gone era. It reflected days of summer afternoons sipping cold drinks in the shade, while rocking on the porch.
The Stringer House was the perfect backdrop for this friendly game. The lawn stretched beyond the welcoming porches inviting participants to “come play.” Some wore period dress, adding to the enchantment of the evening. A light supper was spread across white linen cloths for the enjoyment of all. After the match, deserts were served as the sun began to set. Historic Hernando Preservation Society member, Debbie Charlow may have won the match, but everyone considered themselves a winner at this years event.
Museum President Mary Sheldon was the event coordinator. She and her board provided everyone with hospitality and charm. They food they served was excellent, and the fellowship was enjoyed by all. Preservation Society President Don Moses and Museum President Mary Sheldon hope this event will be the beginning of many more. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend the Historic Hernando Preservation Society meetings at CIty Hall the first Thursday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Hernando Historical Museum Association is also extending invitations to the community to be a part of their organization as well. You can get more information about them by visiting http://www.hernandohistoricalmuseumassoc.com .
When young men Hunter Mello and friend William Lorentsen stumbled upon a headstone in a vacant lot near their home, they had no idea what events would follow. Since bones were also found near the headstone, local police were called to investigate the mystery. They determined the bones were not human, and suggested contacting someone to connect the headstone with its owners.
The headstone reads “At Rest Mr. Jim Blount Died 1940”
Rich Lorentsen, grandfather of William, got involved to help the young men with their search. He researched the name on the headstone, and determined that the individual was buried at the Spring Hill Cemetery. He also researched the family, and found links to substantiate his information. Through a series of phone calls, Historic Hernando Preservation Society was contacted. President Don Moses, Vice President David Letasi, and Secretary Jon Yeager worked together to investigate the matter further.
Alice Walker from the Spring Hill Cemetery was contacted to connect the headstone with the family member. Ms. Walker, recognizing the name Jim Blount, immediately connected Historic Preservation with Margaret Blount Hart, 98 of Brooksville. During the initial phone conversation between Don Moses and Margaret Hart, she confirmed that Jim Blount was indeed her father.
Ruby Hart, cousin of Margaret, requested a meeting with William Hart, his wife Pat, and other individuals involved to return the stone home to the Spring Hill Cemetery. The stone was carefully cleaned by Don, and carried by Rich Lorentsen with the help of his son. Grandson William and friend Hunter also assisted in the placement of the stone; the young men were very proud to be a part of the process. Historic Hernando Preservation Society President, Don Moses, Vice President David Letasi, and their wives along with Secretary Jon Yeager were also present. A simple invocation was conducted after the placement. Margaret Blount Hart plans to visit the site with William and Pat Hart, as soon as she is able.
The family that found the headstone in an empty lot and Historic Hernando Preservation Society President Don Moses at the Spring Hill Cemetery
After years, the missing headstone of Jim Blount was reunited with the headstone of his precious wife Nora, who died in 1927. There they stand, under the shade of a water oak, together at last. Welcome home.
Certificate of Appreciation being given to the family who found the headstone at the May 5, 2016 HHPS Meeting.
Contributed by: Mary Moses
The day of January 9th may have been dreary and overcast, but the spirit of Historic Hernando Preservation Society was anything but. This day was the culmination of planning and coordinating that would save a piece of history.
On September 22, 2014, Don Moses, on behalf of the Historic Hernando Preservation Society, presented the City of Brooksville with a proposal to save a portion of historic sidewalk from the corner of Howell and Olive Street. This particular piece of sidewalk bore the date “January 6, 1914.” This sidewalk was raised to accommodate carriages, and allowed ladies to disembark the carriage without showing their ankle. It was a piece of history that could have been lost during the 2015 demolition.
Bill Geiger, Community Development Director of Brooksville, agreed to coordinate with Historic Hernando Preservation Society and the contractors to preserve this section of the sidewalk.
The Hernando Historical Museum Association President, Ron Daniel, agreed to consider placement of the sidewalk at the 1885 Train Depot on Russell Street in Brooksville. The Museum Board agreed to the placement.
Daniel Construction donated the gravel necessary to form a bed for the placement, and Accuform Signs of Brooksville donated the historical signage explaining the historical significance of the sidewalk. (See the signage text at: http://historichernandopreservationsociety.org/entries/local-history/howell-avenue-historical-sidewalks) At the dedication, President Don Moses shared the significance of historical preservation. Mary Sheldon of the Museum Association spoke of the importance of preserving artifacts. Bill Geiger of the City of Brooksville spoke of the significance of organizations working together to preserve history. All three shared in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Those in attendance enjoyed refreshments prepared by both the Historic Hernando Preservation Society and the Hernando Historical Museum Association.
The ribbon cutting took place following the dedication of the walkway of the Countryman One Room Schoolhouse. This dedication marked the one year anniversary of the schoolhouse dedication. Gretchen Countryman and Mary Waller of the Hernando Historical Museum Association planned and executed this wonderful community event. Attendees were treated to hand embossed programs to take home from the event as souvenirs.