On Saturday, September 7, 2019, the Historic Hernando Preservation Society dedicated Hernando County’s newest historic marker commemorating the planned community of Garden Grove. Made possible by HHPS Board member Roger Sherman, the marker is located on the east side of US 41/ Broad Street, just north of the Spring Hill Drive intersection.
GARDEN GROVE MARKER – SIDE ONE
Garden Grove was carved out of the Chocochatti Hammock, first inhabited by the Upper Creek Nation and then by pioneer families such as the Hopes and Crums. The area remained largely undeveloped up to the 1920s. By that time, the Florida Land Boom, which started in West Palm Beach and Miami, had spread to the west coast of Florida. Many real estate companies were created and bought large tracts of land with the intention of luring new residents and businesses, along with investors interested in land speculation. Developments such as Hickory Hill, Russell- Hale Heights, Mundon Hill Farms, Dixie Acres, Nobleton, Mountain Park, and Masaryktown sprang up from 1924 through 1926 in Hernando County. One such enterprise was Garden Grove, platted in 1924 and surveyed by G.D. and H.D. Mendenhall, Civil Engineers. Garden Grove originally contained some 13,000 acres with plans for over 1,600 residential, commercial, and small farm lots. It was bounded by the Tampa Northern Railroad on the east and bisected by a portion of the first state road, No. 5 (later US 41) on the west. Plans included a city square and lakeside park, as well as a grand main street called Station Boulevard leading to the train depot.
GARDEN GROVE MARKER – SIDE TWO
Advertisements in newspapers promised a holiday atmosphere and described an idyllic environment. A mobile and newly affluent middle class with leisure time sought to speculate and turn investments into quick profits, often quadrupling them within a year. As a large influx of new residents was expected, the county built roads to Garden Grove from Spring Lake and Aripeka. A bus route from Tampa to Garden Grove began along with passenger train service. By 1926, some of the planned roads were laid out and a number of homes constructed. The Methodist-Episcopal Church South became the first house of worship. A one-room school was built, and operated until 1948. Such speculation, however, was unsustainable and the real estate bubble burst in the mid-1920s, just as Garden Grove was beginning to grow. The company sold back some properties to their original owners for pennies on the dollar. The Garden Grove corporation became inactive in 1936. It was not until the 1950s that development in the area resumed with new home and road construction, along with the donation of land by the Crum family for the Garden Grove Baptist Church.