Stop 56: The William Friedman and William Larkin Building
The statuesque, classic brick building on 14120 7th Street has a fascinating history. Two very strong personalities inhabited the space over time; one was a successful merchant who was elected Mayor of Dade Cit and the other was a self-made land tycoon who served as county attorney.
The year 1922 was a monumental year for William Friedman. In November he was elected Mayor of Dade City in a very popular race. Of the 440 registered voters, 398 voted and he received the winning numbers against four contenders. He was a 52-year-old widower who lost his wife at a young age and raised his four children on his own.
Born in Rumania, Friedman emigrated to the United States with his parents as a toddler. He grew up in New York and came to Florida when he was 27. An accomplished mercantile manager, he operated a department store in Tampa for a few years and then moved to Trilby where he opened a store for several years. In 1922, he purchased a lot on what is now 7th Street in Dade City, and erected the building which he managed as a leading mercantile business. It opened in February of 1923 and was presented as a first-class dry goods, clothing, millinery, haberdashery, and shoe store. Very well thought of, Friedman was extremely active in the community and with civic organizations.
By 1938, the period brick building was sold to William Larkin. He hung a sign on his new law office door which read:
“If not in the law office, will be at cow pasture, orange grove, saw mill, shingle mill or liquor still.”
In 2000, William Larkin was named a “Great Floridian” by the Florida Department of State and the Florida League of Cities. County Commissioner Sylvia Young nominated and championed this accolade. To be eligible for the honor, the nominee was required to have a building named in one’s honor and by 2000, the Friedman Building was now formally known as the Larkin Building. A plaque was presented in September of 2000. The building holding his name is where he practiced law from 1938 to 2000. It included a ten-foot solid cypress door, made from trees from his farm. Larkin was born in Dade City in 1899.
Larkin was born in Dade City in 1899. His grandfather, Dr. William Benjamin Larkin, came from New York after the Civil War where he worked as a surgeon in the Union Army. He died in Sumter County where he had been the county doctor. His widow, Lucy Corn Larkin came by horseback to Dade City to run a boarding house. Bill Larkin’s wife, Annette Rerick was an accomplished writer who wrote for the Tampa Tribune for nearly three decades and served as the legal assistant for her husband.
In 1937, William M. Larkin was appointed county attorney. Larkin liked to joke that he was a diligent attorney who was direct, and often said he had the distinction of being the ‘meanest man in Dade City and Pasco County.’ He aggressively accumulated thousands of acres of land. After his passing, his wife Emily donated six- and one-half acres in his memory to the Florida Pioneer Museum & Village; and subsequently she donated another ten acres to the Museum.
Continuing north, cross the street and you will see the Neal’s Shop Perfect site!