Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heritage Village – Largo Florida

We had a little time on our hands before we were due at our friend’s house in Clearwater… I’m always looking for railroad depots and I’d noted that there was one in Largo Florida.  Since we were staying in a Hampton Inn in Largo, it was close by…

This combined (passenger and freight) railroad depot was the focus of this short exploratory drive… The former Seaboard Air Line (SAL) Railroad depot was moved to Largo from Sulphur Springs Florida.  It was built in 1916. 

This is the station master’s office in the depot.  As it turns out, the depot is now one of the structures that comprise of The Pinellas County Heritage Park in Largo.  The Park consists of a significant assemblage of old time homes, businesses and other structures as well as related exhibits.

This former Seaboard Coast Line/Louisville and Nashville caboose sits at one side of the depot. 

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad, which styled itself "The Route of Courteous Service," was an American railroad whose corporate existence lasted from 1900 until 1967, when it merged with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.  That merger created to form the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.

The large visitor center is a modern structure filled with a plethora of exhibits showing life in the past… The items on display range from whimsical to practical… Everything is nicely presented although anyone under the age of 40 or so might need a guide to know what many of the objects are!

This 1916 International Truck was nicknamed the “Goat” because of its narrow frame as well as its maneuverability in the citrus groves.

Because of its central location and rich farmlands, Largo quickly became the center of the Tampa area's citrus industry, earning the title "Citrus City."  Largo citrus was hit hard by a freeze in the latter part of the 1920s…and then by the Great Depression.  

When World War II veterans returned home, they soon discovered the joys of living on Florida's ‘suncoast’, as the area was previously only known to the local farmers and a few rich vacationers.  The population of Largo boomed, growing from just 1,500 residents in 1950 to over 5,300 ten years later. An unexpected freeze in 1962 dealt a serious blow to Largo's citrus, and as groves were sold off, developers were quick to move in to build homes for a growing population.

Dawn Marie is ringing the school bell for the Harris School at Heritage Village...  The original school was built in 1912.  It was used until 1923 when it was replaced by a new school.  This replica of the original schoolhouse was built in 1987 at Heritage Village as part of the celebrations commemorating the 75th anniversary of the creation of Pinellas County.

These carriages and a wide selection of farm related equipment is displayed in the Lowe barn.  The structure was built by area pioneer Wesley Lowe in 1911.  Lowe used cypress lumber, a rot resistant wood, as the foundation for this functional structure.  The barn was moved to Heritage Village in 1977.

This photo gives you an idea of how Heritage Village is laid out.  The many structures cover about 21 acres in this peaceful pine and palmetto wooded setting in the middle of an urban area. 

There are about 10 homes (including a log cabin) and cottages, a church, the barn, 2 schools, the depot, a fire station (at the left in this photo), a sponge warehouse, a sugar cane mill, boiling shed, smoke house, boat shop, pavilion, bandstand, a water tower and a windmill.  Plus…there are at least 2 outhouses for your viewing pleasure in Heritage Village.

The Village Garage is set up as a 1920’s era service station and it comes complete with a 1925 Ford Model TT Truck.  This truck originally cost $495.00 and it had a ‘powerful’ 20 horsepower engine!

We had a time constraint so we really just brushed the surface of this nifty ‘heritage community’ museum… It would take a couple of hours to do it justice and if any of the live demonstrations were underway, it would take even longer. 

We noted that almost everyone working here was a volunteer!  That says something about the character of the Pinellas County community…

The H.C. Smith General Store was built in 1915.  It originally stood on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and 5th Street South in St. Petersburg where it served as a grocery and meat market and later as a dwelling and recreational facility.  In 1988, it was sold to the City of St. Petersburg, which donated it to the Village.

The Pinellas County Heritage Village is a hidden gem and it is well worth a visit if you’re anywhere in the greater Tampa/St. Petersburg area.  Admission to the Village is free, (donations accepted), its open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM – 4 PM and on Sunday from 1 PM – 4 PM.  Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th Street North in Largo Florida.  Phone: 727-582-2123.  The website is found at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. This definitely is a little hidden gem! Been to Tampa many times but missed this. And what a great little train depot and of course the caboose is special---L&N! Interesting read! Thanks, BDD!