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Stop 35: The 1905 Griffin Block

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(Sugar Creek Antiques and Treehouse Mercantile).

 

     Commonly known as Griffin Block at Meridian Avenue and Eighth Street, notice the now green building that houses Sugar Creek Antiques and Treehouse Mercantile. The complex was designed by architect, Artemus Roberts when he was in his sixties. It was then built by James Clarence Griffin in 1905, for his Griffin Drug Store. Also noteworthy, it housed the very first telephone company which was organized by W.J. Ellsworth for 135 members from ten surrounding little bergs and towns. It may sound antiquated by modern standards but the sixteen-line telephone company organized in spring 1903 revolutionized life. 

 

     Historian Bill Dayton explained that the telephone exchange was the brainchild of pharmacist James Clarence Griffin and Dr. Robert Don Sistrunk who came up with the innovation of calling in patient’s prescriptions. This revolutionized the family doctor’s work somewhat and shows the ingenuity of the family doctor and the local pharmacist in meeting the needs of the community.

  

     Griffin and a fellow druggist, Nathan Berry had previously opened a drug store at the corner before the turn of the century as a successor to Parlor Drugs. On May 21, 1903, Pharmacy Magazine reported the partnership of Berry and Griffin. After Griffin bought out his partner, he set out to build the larger building in 1905. 

 

    With available grant funding and resources available from Dade City Mainstreet which operated in Dade City from 1985 for twenty years, the complex was chosen for one of the early renovations. Owner Barbara Huckabay committed to the project. Just before the building was set for an opening of Huckabay’s specialty gift shop in 1987, it was largely compromised by an electrical fire. Lucky for posterity, Huckabay persevered to complete the restoration however and it was ready again for occupancy in 1989. “It will be the first time in 100 years that the business there has not been a drug store,” said Dade City historian Bill Dayton. 

 

    For years prior to the renovation, the building was hidden behind green and white aluminum siding that was placed in the 1950s. When the workers started removing the siding, Huckabay discovered the façade was still viable and could be preserved. The transom windows above the plate-glass front were refurbished and windows that had been bricked up were restored. Steel beams sporting rosettes were left exposed above the windows. The words Griffin Block and the 1905 date were found arched over the doorway. 

 

    The building was called the Griffin Block because the druggist rented out portions for a barber shop and grocery store. 

 

Dayton said that Roberts incorporated an imaginative use of skylights which was uncommon in those days. One of the skylights was restored. Dayton also believed the building featured a wind chimney–a pyramid shape with a trap door and vents at the top. The wind chimney was used for air ventilation to keep a breeze moving through the building.

 

Griffin sold the building in the 1920s and since that time it has had many owners including Irving Seay, Frank Price, and the Huckabay family. Over time, it has also been occupied by Shofield’s Department Store, groceries, antique shops, Chandler’s Drug Store, Nolen’s Drug Store, gift shops and more. 

 

     A narrow set of stairs from Meridian Avenue led to offices on the second floor. Mary Myers Rosier, a native whose father owned Myers Metal Shop north of the Edwinola and who became a University of Florida professor remembered Dr. I.S. Futch as dentist and medical doctor Dr. Sistrunk in the offices upstairs. 

 

Before moving on, look across the street and notice to the slight north west a two-story apartment complex which was known as the Frederick Cosner Apartments.

  • Start

    Parlor Drugs, a small predecessor of Griffin Block was available for business. Berry and Griffin Drug Store, a frame building, was on Meridian at space that would be replaced by Griffin Block. Griffin bought out Berry.

  • 1905

    Griffin building was constructed by James Clarence Griffin, Sr.

  • 1913

    Soda tables with a combination display cabinet and three-cornered chairs added to Griffin Drug Company.

  • 1915

    J.C. Griffin, Jr who recently graduated in pharmacy in Atlanta moved to Dade City to assist his father H.C. Griffin Sr in the Griffin Drug Company.

  • 1923

    Graham Furniture operated by A.E. Graham moved into the vacant storeroom in Griffin block.

  • 1924

    Renovation of the Dr. R.D. Sistrunk office on the second floor of Griffin Block taking place with remodeled reception, waiting room, consultation room and laboratory, operating room and storeroom.

  • 1925

    Hendley-Burnside Building owned by Colonel J.A. Hendley was sold to S.F. Huckabay and his son, W.W. Huckabay.

  • 1926

    The Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A & P) occupied a space in Griffin Block with manager E.G. Akin.

  • 1928

    Devastating fire damaged Nike’s Restaurant, Hunt’s Barber Shop, A & P Grocery and Griffin Drug.

  • 1928

    Hunt’s Barber Shop next door to Griffin Drug Store lowered their barber prices.

  • 1933

    Henry Clay Griffin Senior died April 13, 1933. He was the second mayor of Dade City, sheriff of Pasco, and owner of drug store and hardware store.

  • 1935

    Dade City Legion Sons established Santa Claus Workshop for season at Griffin Block.

  • 1938

    Griffin’s Drug Store was owned and operated by Dr. Walter “Ervin” Seay.

  • 1939

    Seay added a lunch counter.

  • 1944

    Architect of Griffin Block, Artemus Roberts died at age 102.

  • 1946

    Myron G. Naber’s Jewelry Shop sent a Christmas greeting in Dade City Banner on December 20: “Christmas is a time when old loyalties are not only strengthened but remembered…”

  • 1954

    Occupants: A & A Grocery Store changed name to A & P Grocery.

  • 1956

    Dr. Robert Don Sistrunk died at age 83.

  • 1964-1965

    When the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Philadelphia Phillies set up baseball spring training camp in Dade City, they enjoyed obtaining liniment by the gallon from pharmacist Edwin L “Red “Nolen at Nolen’s Drug Store at Griffin Block. Red or an employee used to keep ice in the pharmacy and run it down to Massey field, the playing field.

  • 1965

    Tribune announces a number of stores were being remodeled including the old Griffin Building which faced Meridian Avenue at the corner of 8th.

  • 1986

    Chandler Drug Store in Griffin was closed in the Griffin Building.

  • 1987

    Just as the Griffin Block was ready to reopen from Main Street Grant, fire erupted and damaged Sandbar Design and Naber’s Jewelers.

  • 1991

    Sugar Creek Antiques managed by Pat Ashburn occupied space with the Kids Carousel to the west.

  • 1999

    Griffin Block housed Sandbar Market, Grapevine Antiques and Mallie Kyla’s Cafe.

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