Stop 36: The 1923 Frederick Daniel Cosner Apartments
Cosner Apartments at 37718 Meridian Avenue (a gaze across the street site; as this is not open to the public).
The front page of the Dade City Banner reported on March 15, 1946: News of the sudden death of Frederick Daniel Cosner, 73, on Saturday evening at nine o’clock at his home, came as a great shock to his family and friends. While out on his lawn, Saturday afternoon about five o’clock, he suffered a stroke of paralysis from which he never rallied to consciousness. His wife was with him at the time of the fatal attack and hastily summoned aid.
The deceased, a retired construction engineer and former Mayor of Dade City, was also a Veteran of the Spanish American War, and after serving two years in the U.S. Army, enlisted for an additional three years. His service included participation in The Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Uprising in China. Mayor Cosner was awarded many service medals.
A native of Jacksonville, West Virginia, he was born on April 4, 1872, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Cosner. He was educated at Burnsville Academy in West Virginia and at the University of Lebanon in Ohio. Following his graduation, he was principal of the Burnsville Academy in West Virginia and one year later recruited by The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, eventually becoming chief construction engineer. His engineering included the construction of a five-mile-long bridge across Albemarle Sound, at that time, the longest bridge in the world.
Cosner also spent some time in Montevideo, South America as engineer for the Pan American Railroad. He resigned as chief engineer of the Coal & Coke Railroad on August 1, 1917 to assume general managership of the Pitts-Block Coal Company.
In 1918, Cosner disposed of his coal business and relocated to Dade City, Florida as Vice-President of the Dade City Veneer, Lath and Crate Manufacturing Company, said to be a thriving business at the time. In 2022, the space of the factory would be near the current “Spoke” location on Church Avenue. (STOP 42-43).
Returning to his vocation as construction engineer, he was engineer for the 154 ½ miles of Pasco County’s million and three hundred-thousand-dollar bond program for road construction and also served as City Engineer for Dade City’s $500,000 Street Paving Program. In addition, he served two terms as Mayor of Dade City from 1921 to 1924.
He was a member of the Pasco Camp of the United Spanish War Veterans of Zephyrhills, and at his passing, funeral services were conducted with full military honors and internment was at Bay Pines in the National Cemetery.
Frederick Daniel Cosner was one of Dade City’s very own architect/engineers and even today a quick assessment of his one-hundred-year-old apartment building on Meridian now housing Alston Electric, and his personal home at the Southwest corner of Robinson Avenue & 13th Street unveil the uniqueness of his architectural design style. An innovative designer, his buildings still grace Dade City and hint at his international experiences that are evident in his unique style.
By 1932, ‘Fred’ as he was known, had built a vacation cottage in Aripeka in West Pasco for weekends which was a desired recreational activity at the time. The Cosners were subsequently stranded when a tidal wave that hit the west coast, and Roddy Woodcock of the Times reported on Cosner and his family’s clever story of survival. Woodcock’s story gives a flavor of the engineer who was a resilient hands-on worker in Dade City and in his personal life.
The rising tide trapped the late Mr. and Mrs. Fred Cosner inside their house that night before they could get to higher ground and forced them to spend the balance of the night waist deep. Cosner, a civil engineer, had built his weekend cottage on lower ground west of SR 595. As the water came up inside the house, the family dog was placed on top of the ice box and when that began to float, both the box and dog were moved. Cosner helped engineer State Road 52 between Dade City and Bayonet Point and the hairpin curve around a swamp near the Ehren Cutoff was known as Cosner’s Curve. The next morning, chickens, dogs, cats, and even a pig in a crate were found on the rooftops according to some of Cosner’s Dade City friends who came to the coast to check on him.