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About Us

Who we are

Passionate About Our History and Heritage

Dade City, a quintessential turn-of-the-century southern town, exudes charm and charisma that unveils Florida history! We invite you to experience it first-hand through the Dade City Merchant’s Self-Guided Historical Tour.

The settlement that was named Fort Dade began to evolve when James Gibbons was issued a land patent for 160 acres in 1842, although indigenous peoples inhabited the area prior to 10,000 B.C.E. The lure of resources such as the Withlacoochee River and the newly cleared Fort King Road (1825) brought promises to settlers.

The merchants of Fort Dade moved to a new site to be near the railroad, and the new site was named Dade City. The new city needed a post office, and the most expedient course of action was to move a post office rather than apply for a new one. Minza G. Rowe transferred the existing post office to the new town and applied to change the name from Hatton to Dade City. Pasco County was established from a region of Hernando County, on June 2, 1887, by Governor Madison S. Perry. Dade City became the county seat and
served as the center of retail and commerce for the new county for a good one hundred years.

Milestones mark the path of Dade City’s history and a stroll through 21st-century Dade City reveals remnants of landmarks, institutions, traditions, and clues of frontier life and evolving American history.

It is not surprising that the Dade City Merchants Association came into existence in May of 1926, and has continued as a vital resource throughout history. A 2022 endeavor of the Merchants Association was to create a self-guided tour of the historical locations and sites.

History

More Fun Facts About Dade City

Having such an extensive history means that we are able to tell more stories.

Electricity

Kerosene lamps and candles were the norms! In 1908 however, ELECTRICITY REACHED DADE CITY via the Dade City Ice, Light, & Power Company.

Sunnybrook Tobacco Company

We tend to think of nearby Ybor City as a central Florida city known for tobacco, but DID YOU KNOW that Dade City/Pasco’s LARGEST EMPLOYER FROM 1908 UNTIL 1920 WAS SUNNYBROOK TOBACCO COMPANY and the unique species of tobacco was a fine cigar strand. This changed rather suddenly when Black Shank, a potent tobacco disease wiped out the commodity!

Training Site

Did you know that the SYRACUSE CHIEFS HAND PICKED DADE CITY FOR THEIR 1962 TRAINING SITE; Dade City then had a population of 8,000; players were housed at the Edwinola Hotel with the exception of Black players who in the age of segregation were housed in resident’s private homes.”

Community

Dade City Merchant's Association

Dade City Merchant’s Association is an organization promoting the historic downtown business district. They were founded in May 1926. 

Vision

History is a “thing” - a segment of time – that finite slice of life or experiences that hearken back from the past. That “thing” that has becomes embedded in the hearts of those who have live it; cherished memories in the lives of those who recall it, and honored ancestral accounts that have been passed down through the ages. There is a certain delight in the telling of the story, bringing it back to life again, recreating the laughter and memories that were once just everyday life in what is known as that proverbial “once upon a time”. History is not just words to simply read or ruins of days gone by to gaze upon – it is has that ethereal ability to transport it’s guest back in time, to stand with them at the corner of Meridian and 7th or any other street and feel the warm breeze of summer that might have wafted through town in those earlier days as folks waited for horse drawn carriages to clear the intersection. And with a little quiet imagination one might be able to conger up a glimpse of early residents getting off of the train and making their way to the Edwinola Hotel or making a quick stop at one of those old fashion lunch counters. Just keep in mind that as you make way along the tour, you are now walking in the footsteps of those long ago folks.

Mission

In creating this walking tour it was our desire to share with you the memories of this remarkable small town and its incredible people, so typical of the American landscape back in the day, but a town with a unique fabric of its own. We hope that when you leave us, visiting our legacy will become a part of fond memories of a day in a small town rich in history.

Begin Your Journey With Us

Embark on a fun expedition around Dade City and learn all there is about our interesting history.

Madonna Wise

Valued Contributor

She is a Historian/Author, Retired School/District Administrator (Pasco and Polk). Contribution: Historical content, research, and script writing.

Margaret Angell

Valued Contributor

She is president of the Dade City Merchants Association, Angel Tea Shop & Heavenly Treasures Gift Shop. Contribution: Leadership and coordination from Dade City Merchants.

Mary Katherine Mason

Valued Contributor

She is the Founder/ Owner/ Operator of Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread; Contribution: The originator of concept and logo as well as leadership and coordination from the Dade City Merchants Association.

Stephanie Bracknell Black

Valued Contributor

She is Executive Director, Pioneer Florida Museum & Village. Contribution: consultation on research, consultation on the integration of use of resources, and further research extension opportunities at the Pioneer Museum & Village.

Lynn Tepper

Dedication

Retired circuit judge; activist for trauma-informed courts; devoted to Dade City city history. We want to thank you for your dedication of service and love of Pasco County! Thank you for your contributions to help bring this tour to life.

African American Heritage Society of East Pasco, former Director of Global & Multicultural Studies at Pasco Hernando State College, journalist on African American history for Tampa Tribune for several years, author of Black America Series: Hernando County from Arcadia Publishing.

Imani D. Asukile

Valued Contributor

Distinguished Dade City and school board lawyer; beloved community member and musician. We want to thank you for your dedication of service and love of Pasco County! He was an inspiration!

Dennis Alfonso

Dedication

She is Senior Administrative Assistant, Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce. Contribution: original developer of Dade City historical house tour; consultation on resources.

Melody Floyd

Valued Contributor

He is the narrator, Technician at Verizon Communication/ Retired, Chipco Creek String Band, Reenactor/ Volunteer at Pioneer Florida Museum & Village. Contribution: Narration of the scripts.

Wayne Sweat

Valued Contributor

The Art of Business (podcaster). Contribution: Technical compilation of thirty-five scripts with photo placement for videos.

Eric Baker

Valued Contributor

He is the owner of The Social Connection, a marketing agency in the Tampa Bay area. Contribution: Created the website.

Britton Janning

Valued Contributor

Featured

A BIG Thank You to Our Sponsors!

None of this would be possible without our awesome volunteers and organizations who help to support us. We are grateful for your continued support and to everyone who has pledged a donation to help our cause. To see the people who made all of this possible behind the scenes, click here.

Make a
Donation

Your generous contribution helps us with the continual maintenance and upkeep that is required with this initiative. To make a donation, please email us at info@dadecityhistory.org. You can also call 813-469-8627. We greatly appreciate your support!

Become A
Sponsor

Thank you for your interest in becoming a sponsor!  For more information and to register, please email us at info@dadecityhistory.org. You can also call 813-469-8627. We greatly appreciate your support!

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