Indian Rocks Beach Historical Trail
1....Print this file.
2....At its end, click on "rules" to see a copy of the trail rules, print it, and then click where indicated at the end of the 3-page rules and patch order form to get back to the list of Florida trails.
3....If you want a hand-drawn map showing the locations of all of the sites, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Steve Rajtar, 1614 Bimini Dr., Orlando, FL 32806.
4....Hike the trail and order whatever patches you like (optional).
WARNING - This trail may pass through one or more neighborhoods which, although full of history, may now be unsafe for individuals on foot, or which may make you feel unsafe there. Hikers have been approached by individuals who have asked for handouts or who have inquired (not always in a friendly manner) why the hikers are in their neighborhood. Drugs and other inappropriate items have been found by hikers in some neighborhoods. It is suggested that you drive the hike routes first to see if you will feel comfortable walking them and, if you don't think it's a good place for you walk, you might want to consider (1) traveling with a large group, (2) doing the route on bicycles, or (3) choosing another hike route. The degree of comfort will vary with the individual and with the time and season of the hike, so you need to make the determination using your best judgment. If you hike the trail, you accept all risks involved.
A bridge serving Haven Beach was opened on July 4, 1958, for a cost of $720,000. One of the buildings demolished to make room for the approach to the bridge was a little cottage bought by Ralph and Sybile Loewer in 1941. They named it The Pines Restaurant, and it was renamed Little Bohemia later when it was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Paty.
That bridge was replaced by a new one in 1999.
In 1959, St. Jerome's Catholic Church began in a garage on this property. Father Gromala and 12 men converted it into a small chapel. The altar was made from a slab of Vermont marble found in debris on the property. A roadside shrine was built by parishoners just west of 2nd St. In 1960, the congregation moved to a new church complex on the mainland on Hamlin Blvd.
This bank building opened on September 23, 1974. To make room for it, Tom England's house on 1st St. was torn down. The building later became a real estate office, but the bank drive-through teller lanes remain.
The present Indian Rocks Beach post office opened here in August of 1960, and doubled in size in October of 1978.
This was formerly the Carl H. Moseley house, built in 1934-35 at 1206 Gulf Blvd. Moseley, an attorney in Tampa, had it built for use as a vacation cottage. After it was moved to the northeast corner of Bay Palm Blvd. and 15th Ave., it was turned into a local history museum. It was moved again, to this site in about 2000.
The present fire station at this location was built during the mid-1950s.
The Old Bridge from the mainland reached the island at this point. The bridge, nicknamed "Old Noisy" because of its rattling planks, was replaced by another to the north in 1958 and was removed in 1960. A plaque to commemorate it was placed here on December 18, 1984.
In 1911, a ten-bedroom hotel was built here by Horace Hamlin. Later, it was bought by James and Mary Helen Stanley and was renamed Hotel Stanley. In 1922, it was renamed the Indian Rocks Inn. It was later remodeled to add seven bedrooms and additional porch space, and it burned down in 1963.
The building located here began as a roller skating rink, then picnics with live bands were held here. It was bought by Raymond H. Brandon in 1921, and converted by him into a bath house. It was the first community building on the island. Brandon continued to operate it until 1956.
During the 1960s, the building was called The Turtle, a beach club for young adults. It was condemned in 1967 and burned down in 1968, leaving only the concrete steps.
Originally, the main road ran west from the Old Bridge, then turned south just east of the pavilion, then west to the beach, and south to the end of the island. In 1932, the state modified the road to run on the beach side of the pavilion. That road washed out and was replaced in 1954 by the present Gulf Blvd. which is located closer to the east side of the island.
In a building here was located the post office, with postmaster Camillus B. Brandon moving it from the mainland in 1940. Son Frank C. Brandon served as the postmaster from 1941 to 1966. In 1941, the building also became Brandon's Grocery.
Harvey K. Hendrick homesteaded 1 1/2 miles of this island in 1891, and later sold half of that tract to L.W. Hamlin. Hendrick built this house, the first on the island, and in 1906 moved back to the mainland.
Hendrick had been on a vacation cruise in 1883 from Cedar Key to Disston City with Jesse D. Green, L.W. Hamlin, and Judge J.D. Bell, when they "discovered" Indian Rocks Beach. At the time, the only people here were the Cochran brothers, who lived in a thatched-roof lean-to. The four bought the rights of the Cochrans as squatters.
Hamlin could not get clear title to his land because government surveys did not show the island. Unless he proved the place existed, they would not give him a deed. After much effort, the state ordered a resurvey and "found" over 100 acres not previously shown on their maps. Hendrick filed for a patent which was granted for St. Clement's Point.
Before the Old Bridge opened in 1916, the Knox Hotel located here and owned by Mr. and Mrs. James Knox was a popular place to stay. After the bridge opened, the hotel closed and became the residence of the Williams family. It burned down during the 1950s.
Construction of the "Val's View" or the "Castle" was begun in 1910 by Val Antuono, a cigar manufacturer from Tampa, who imported his wall tile from Italy. It was his private home, and is today the Private Pier Apartments. It claims to have had the first swimming pool on the Gulf Beaches.
Mr. Antuono was decorated by Mussolini for his interest in promoting Italian goods and works of art at the annual fair in Tampa, and for his active opposition to the Mafia.
In the Tampa city hall is a large tile seal, ordered from Italy by Antuono and displayed at the 1929 fair. In 1924, Antuono owned the largest cigar factory in the U.S., the first open shop, and Tampa's first attempt at profit-sharing for workers.
This building began as a boathouse, erected by Harry Ulmer. In it, he housed Miss Largo, his speedboat. In 1932, Norman and Rita Bie bought it and converted it to a unique home and real estate office. Across the street they had a stable where they kept their horses.
Wyllys M. Ransom opened a fish market here in June of 1957. Later, the building became the home of Candy Kitchen.
Ferman Moodie had the first drug store on the island in the 1940s in the store, with living quarters upstairs. Later, his store included sundries and beach wear. It later became O'Neal's on the Rocks.
In the 1940s, this was the site of Sam's Little Kitchen operated by Sam Morris, who had pictures of the local bathing beauties on the walls of his restaurant. In the 1950s, it was owned by Johnnie and Irene Parker, so it became Parker's Little Kitchen. Later, it became the Reef II Restaurant.
During World War II, Margaret Ewing sold hot dogs from her house, and opened the first Breezes Grocery here in 1947. Ray and Margaret Blackburn bought the building in 1947 and, in May of 1956, opened their business here, selling ice cream, sandwiches and soft drinks.
Charlie A. Wilcox built a two-story building here in 1947 for use as a hardware store. He leased it in 1954 to C.A. Baldwin who continued the hardware business and his father, C.M. Baldwin, who sold jewelry and repaired watches. This later was the home of D. Kelley's barber shop.
This was originally the site of Norfleet's Super Market, which burned in early 1949. Ray Blackburn bought the property and by the end of the year erected a new store building. Paul T. Calvin bought the old Breezes Grocery Store business from Margaret Ewing, and moved it here in 1950 from its former location at 229 Gulf Blvd. Calvin bought the building and remodeled it in 1954, and then sold it in 1976.
Dr. Eldridge built his office, and the rest of this complex was built by Lloyd Johnson and Charlie White. Tenants during the 1950s included Wilcox Pharmacy, Bower Appliance, Robbie's Fountainette and Zehnder's Varieties, owned by Lou and Effie Zehnder.
During the 1960s, the Golden Bowl Restaurant at this site sold "7 different home cooked dinners" for $1 each. The building later was the home of Renee's and then the Beach Hut.
The first service station here was built in about 1945 by Dutch and Frances Foerste. They and their five children lived in a house across Gulf Blvd.
Now the Gulf Crest Apartments, this was built in 1942 by Fred King Conn as a home to be used for his summer vacations.
In the 1910s, this was the entrance to the Haven Beach development. At this corner was a sales office, which also rented beach cottages.
Dr. W.P. Eldridge bought this building in 1949 to be used as his office. The Cathedral Shop moved in here in about 1952. During that same year, Ronnie and Jackie Wilcox opened their first pharmacy here and L.B. Moody opened his real estate office in it.
For many years, a two-story house here was rented by Howard Bowers from Charlie Thatcher. It has since been replaced by a gas station.
This house, plus the one next door to the north (since removed) were built in about 1918.
During the 1930s, this was the home of Dr. E.W. Bitzer. In the 1920s, 5th and 6th Aves. were known as Hull Ave. and Harbor View Way.
Here was located the home of Chester McMullen, who later became a congressman.
During the 1940s, Charlie Potter had a bait and tackle shop here behind his apartment building. It later became Whispering Waters.
In the 1920s, Harry Warner lived in a two-story house here. It later became Potter's Apartments, and is now a part of Whispering Waters.
The establishment on this corner started as the Gulf Grill, owned by John and Ellen Farina. It was purchased in the 1970s by Joe Dos, and has been replaced by the Reef Club.
In the 1950s, Walter Henderson had a real estate office here. He was active in civic affairs, served as a city commissioner, and was president of the Civic Association and Chamber of Commerce.
The American Legion Hut located at this intersection was the first home of three church congregations, as well as American Legion Post 128, which moved to a new location on Bay Palm Blvd. in 1958.
Brothers Joseph K. and William J. McNally built this shopping complex in 1956, adding the Country Store in 1963. Across 15th Ave., the home of Meta Arndt was acquired for use as an annex. The complex of buildings was removed in about 2000.
A 30-room hotel was built here in 1914 by Samuel L. Pattison. It was named the Indian Beach Hotel, but was also referred to as the Pattison Hotel. It was popular with those who could not get into the crowded Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Clearwater.
Along what is now the path of 15th Ave., a sidewalk was laid by 1916 to connect the hotel to the train depot to the east. The hotel burned down in about 1926.
In 1914, a bathhouse was built here by some residents of Tampa, and called the APMAT ("Tampa" spelled backwards) Club. It was built of wood, with a dividing wall separating the dressing rooms of the men and ladies. In 1925, a refreshment and lunch stand was added. It was also used for dancing and picknicking. It was remodeled into the Casa Blanca Motel Apartments, and is now the site of a five-story condominium.
Archie's Suprex, owned by Archie and Billie Dainwood, had its grand opening here in 1959.
In the 1950s, Archie and Billie Dainwood's market was advertised as "Your Local F.R.O.G. Store". Later, William N. Munroe, Jr. opened Munroe Publications, Inc. in an old quonset hut brought from MacDill Air Force Base.
This was formerly the site of the Neptune-Driftwood Cottages, which were demolished in July of 1981.
In 1953, 50 charter members organized this church and held services in the Legion Hut. The following year, they moved to the City Auditorium, and in 1955 this church was completed, largely through the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Brown. Pilgrim Hall, the education building, was dedicated in March of 1959.
Originally called the Beach School, this opened in 1955 as a nursery and pre-school. In 1959, it was renamed Cottingham and added grades 1-6. It burned in 1976 and was rebuilt. It is now the property of Church of the Isles.
These apartments were built in 1959-60 by Tom A. Mitchell. The large oak tree dividing the road was saved through the efforts of Laura Brown when the street was being developed.
In May of 1954, Calvary Chapel Episcopal was founded as a mission, with services held in the Legion Hut at Gulf Blvd. and 14th Ave. Two years later, this property was bought and the existing two-story building was remodeled into a church.
The original building began existence as a Navy repair barge which saw duty in World War II in the Pacific Ocean. It was towed to Key West, bought by Robert Brown for a dredging operation, towed to this location, and turned into living quarters for the Brown family before it was purchased by Calvary.
In 1962, a new building was begun and the old one was moved to become the parish house. In July of 1976, the office and library was built between the sanctuary and parish house.
George King founded the Gulf Beach Art Center on May 28, 1979. It is located here in the former American Legion Post 128 building.
The post was established on April 19, 1942, and was headquartered in "The Hut" on Gulf Blvd. at 14th Ave. The present Legion Home was dedicated on November 11, 1958.
The community center and auditorium were built here in 1952 by volunteers, using materials which had been furnished at cost. The city offices were on the south side of the building, and the library was at its northeast corner. In 1979, a new facade and plantings were undertaken by the Beautification Foundation.
This was originally known as Indian Rocks Beach City Park. The Civic Association, which had formed in 1948, planned and developed the two acres which had been donated by the Joel McMullen family. In September of 1959, it was dedicated as Kolb Park, named for the Civic Association's past president, M.C. Kolb.
The healing spring supposedly visited by Chief Chic-a-Si is likely the one located here until it was capped because of its strong sulfur odor. A plaque at the northeast corner of the park marks the site of the spring and the end of the old railroad.
At this intersection, formerly known as Central Ave. and Third St., was the depot of the Tampa & Gulf Coast Railroad. The tracks reached the island between 13th and 14th Aves., then turned north and followed the path of what is now Bay Palm Dr. When Indian Beach was originally platted in 1915, the large tracts at the southwest and northwest corners of this intersection were planned to be parks.
George A. Fain was the engineer for A.B. Hull, developer of Haven Beach. He built this house for himself in 1918, along with others bearing his hallmark - second story bedrooms with windows on three sides, sometimes descibed as being shaped like an airplane. Fain moved away in 1920.
The home was later owned by R.J. Binnicker, whose daughter Ruth married Jack Eckerd. Later, it was owned by the Woolcott family.
A hotel was built along this canal in 1914 as the Blue Bird Inn, used by Tampans as a yacht club. It also served as the administration building of the Haven Beach Development Co.
In its early years, it was operated by the C.T. Moxleys, and then a syndicate from Chicago acquired it in 1923 and converted it to a hotel. In 1925-26, the Belleview Biltmore Hotel operated it as a supper club. It was purchased by Ed Whitnel in 1935.
L.B. Moody was a prominent realtor here, and had his office in a small building at this site in the 1940s. He sold it to the Grandbois to be used as a residence.
Florida Historical Markers & Sites, by Floyd E. Boone (Gulf Publishing Company 1988)
Florida's Pinellas Peninsula, by June Hurley Young (Byron Kennedy and Co. 1984)
Indian Rocks: A Pictorial History, by Indian Rocks Area Historical Society (Great Outdoors Publishing Company 1985)
Largo: Then 'til ..., by Bicentennial History Book Committee (Largo Area Historical Society 1975)
Surf, Sand & Post Card Sunsets: A History of Pass-A-Grille and the Gulf Beaches, by Frank T. Hurley, Jr. (1977)
Tampa That Was ... History and Chronology Through 1946, by Evanell Klintworth Powell (Star Publishing Company, Inc. 1973)
Click here for a copy of the trail rules.