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Stop 33: The 1932 J.A. Peek & Son Feed Store to Wozniak Builder’s

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A stunning block building at 14220 8th Street is next on the self-guided tour and is proudly identified in contemporary times as the offices of Wozniak Builders, Inc. Clyde Hobby of the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village Board affirmed that the location at 14220 8th Street was originally a feed store. 

 

   In terms of the date of the building, local journalist Joe Potter reported the building dates to the 1880s as did a Tampa Tribune article during the renovation. The current structure is not evident in the 1915 or 1920 Sanborn Insurance Maps of Dade City in the Library of Congress so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact date. Pasco County Property Records date the origin of the construction of the building to 1932. The accurate origin of the building date may never be uncovered.

 

   The earliest identified proprietor was James Ambrose Peek, Sr. and a hypothesis would be that Peek constructed the building. Senior Peek passed away in 1934, and management was farmed out. The concurrent and following proprietor team is revealed in the name, The Carper & Smith Feed Store. The 1950 Dade City Census indicates that John Austin Carper was still the manager of the store at age 82 in 1950.

 

     A fun fact about the earliest documented proprietor team was that John’s partner who was also his stepson, Joseph Perry Smith was a champion player on the community baseball team and president of the local Giants’ team. Numerous newspaper articles commend his prowess as a baseball player. Imagine for a moment, the wonderful discourse that must have occurred at the neighborhood feed store about community baseball!!! Local teams were popular in the early twentieth century and brought great enthusiasm into the community.

 

     Later in 1950, publications name the store as The J.A. Peek Feed, Seeds and International Harvester Store.  J.A. Peek Jr. operated the feed store as well after his father’s death. With all nature of seed, fertilizer, and livestock feed, the feed store was said to be the “oldest feed store in Dade City,” and essential to the agrarian economy. In addition, railroad cars full of grain, fertilizer, and agricultural stuff unloaded on the back/west of the building from the rail cars for many decades who came through town on the Seaboard Coastline Railroad. 

 

     From 1953-1956, the feed store was known as The Marion Smith Feed Store. Their advertisements emphasize the heritage of the J.A. Peek father and son.

 

     In 1956, a seasoned feed store owner, Robert Millhoff and his wife purchased the feed store and it became the Millhoff’s Feed Store. Millhoff had operated a feed store for many years in Ohio, and was enamored by Dade City and the business. He purchased the building for $23,000 which was a large sum at that time which illustrates its gravity of importance.

 

   Keep in mind that livestock were essential to evolving Dade City which was first and foremost an Antebellum town, but for many years, the largest community in Pasco County with the most commerce and possessing real splendor. The surrounding area had Open Range with cracker cattle and horses not to mention wild hogs. Nearly every rural homestead and many city homesteads were fenced to prevent the roaming livestock from ravaging their gardens. Each ranch had a system of branding and marking the livestock for identification with their own brands (which remain on file in county records). A large poultry business was abundant for decades throughout the county. These livestock endeavors required shipment of fertilizers, grains, and feedstuffs, many that were imported via rail car and stored in the structure.

 

  In the later years, the building was occupied by Coleman & Ferguson Funeral Home, in a corporation and by 2005, it was purchased by Hodges Funeral Home. It was used largely for workshop and storage space for the businesses.

 

  In the Wozniak Building of today, a clever renovation has utilized the 2,000 square foot office space in the business enterprise and another 1,500 square feet has been leased to Garden of Eden Salon and Spa. The blocked-up window spaces which stood unattended for many years were opened during the renovation to show the authenticity of the historical site.

 

   The modern-day Garden of Eden Salon & Spa has a Mediterranean demeanor with a lovely painted exterior wall mural that is worth your walk to view. The entrance at the rear of the Wozniak structure reveals the large carport which was utilized by Coleman & Ferguson Funeral Home (now Lowman’s Law Firm) for many years as the reception area for mourners and departing caravans and hearses which were frequented in the space throughout entering and exiting the funeral chapel. 

 

  Walk around the corner and notice the brick structure before you cross Meridian to walk north!

  • Mystery Origin Date

    Two sources, “Business Growth Beginning to Bloom,” from Pasco County News of Thursday, August 10, 2006 in article entitled, “New Life for Former Funeral Home,” by Joe Potter stated “built in the 1880s…” and Tampa Tribune, December 11, 2006 article states the building dates to 1890.

  • 1915 & 1920

    Sanborn Insurance Maps from Library of Congress show no building at location!

  • 1932

    Pasco County Property Records document a concrete block stucco building was constructed with rolled composition roof at the site in 1932, probably by James Ambrose Peek, Sr.

  • 1934

    James Ambrose Peek, Sr. passed away, having lived in Dade City since 1916. His obituary states, “He was the senior partner in the firm of J.A. Peek & son, dealers in feeds, fertilizers, field and garden seeds.” (Dade City Banner, January 26, 1934).

  • 1935-1950

    THE CARPER & SMITH FEED STORE was operated in the space by John Austin Carper and his stepson, Joseph Perry Smith (Census records of 1950 reveal that Carper was the manager at age 82). Records indicate Carper lived in Dade City from circa 1926 until 1956. Carper’s wife (also Joseph Perry Smith’s stepmother), Emma Roundtree Carper, was active until she died in 1949. It appears the feed store building was owned by James Ambrose “J.A.” Peek before and after the Carper & Smith duo.

  • 1950

    Advertisement in 1950 Pasco High School yearbook states J.A. PEEK’S FEED STORE.

  • 1953

    Advertisement in 1953 Pasco High School yearbook celebrates MARION SMITH FEED STORE as successor to J.A. Peek & Son with Jim Dandy Feed, etc.

  • 1954

    Advertisement in 1954 Pasco High School yearbook celebrates Marion Smith, Successor to J.A. Peek & Son with Seed, Plants, Fertilizer, Hardware, Freezer Supplies, phone 100!

  • 1955

    James A Peek, Jr. died. Obit of March 10, 1955, states, “A native of Macon, Georgia, he moved to Dade City with his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Peek 40 years ago. Becoming associated with his father in the feed, seed, and fertilizer business under the firm name of J.A. Peek and Son, the business was continued until its sale when J. Peek built a motor court.” Dade City Banner.

  • 1956

    Robert E. Millhoff purchased the feed store for $23,000 from Mrs. Marion Smith.

  • 1963

    John Austin Carper, 94 died; he had been co-owner of Carper & Smith business in the space.

  • 1970

    Joseph Perry Smith died. A resident of Dade City and co-owner of Carper & Smith Feed Store Joe also was co-founder of Alva Fruit Company and the Hendry Fruit Company.

  • 2005

    Closed by Coleman & Ferguson Company corporate owners after decades of ownership.

  • 2006

    Building is purchased by Hodges Funeral Home.

  • 2006

    Wozniak Builders, Inc. (owned by Victor Wozniak) was hired to renovate building owned by Norm Bond. “Workers found authentic yellow bricks from the bed of the Withlacoochee River after tearing down an exterior stucco wall. The contractor restored the brick face and is taking over part of the space for its own offices. The rest of the brick building which dates back to the 1890s is being leased by Garden of Eden Salon and Spa. (Tampa Tribune, December 11, 2006, page 3).

  • 2008

    Building was purchased by Five Smooth Stone Properties, LLC. Joe Potter writes, “The rear, one-story building is brick and contains 3,500 square feet. It was built in the 1880s and is one of the oldest buildings in Dade City. It previously faced Live Oak Avenue and was used as a feed store in earlier days. Railroad cars full of grain unloaded on the building’s back (west) side. The walls contain three layers of brick and are a foot wide.”

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