Stop 63: The Roy D. Guymon and Harry Tipton Dade City Bakery (Courtyard)
The courtyard known as the Dade City Bakery was operated by Roy D. Guymon and later Harry Tipton at 37843 Meridian Avenue, and previous to the bakery, housed the frame structure of Tobias Shofner’s Mercantile.
To the west of the Essie Coleman building, after you’ve dined at the tea shop and enjoyed some shortbread, you will inhale the beauty of the lovely restored courtyard. Sandwiched between the iconic Coleman & Ferguson Mercantile to the west and the Essie Coleman building to the east, the courtyard served a valuable purpose in the early days for unloading and preparation for the large department store. Over time, the vacant courtyard has also housed various buildings and enterprises. The earliest documentation of this space is from the post office records. When Reuben Wilson was postmaster in Dade City in 1893, the office was located in this space in a frame building.
Two of the previous mercantile locations of Coleman & Ferguson were situated in dissimilar locations on this stretch of Meridian. The earliest structures were wooden frame and one of the most enduring of the structures was the mercantile store of Tobias Lee “T.L.” Shofner. Photos are deceiving of this section of Meridian however in the very early part of the twentieth century as the second Coleman and Ferguson Store moved from near the intersection of 7th and Meridian to the later slightly western direction and final location on the west side of the block. Consequently, the Shofner Mercantile is seen in photos to both the east of the earlier Coleman & Ferguson Store and then to the west later.
The Dade City Banner printed in December 8th of 1925 of the Shofner Mercantile:
A high record for business property in Dade City was made Friday when a deal was closed for the sale of the May-Cleveland Realty Company property on Meridian Avenue to W.S. Powell formerly of Greenville, South Carolina but now located at Zephyrhills, at a price of $1,000 per front foot. The property has a thirty-foot frontage on Meridian Avenue and brought $30,000.
The property is one of the most valuable that can be found in Dade City…located in the center of the block between Seventh and Eighth Street, between the new Coleman & Ferguson Company building and the Miss Essie Coleman building. It is occupied at the time by the only frame structure in this part of town, a one-story building occupied for more than thirty years by T.L. Shofner as a dry goods store.
Similarly, when Shofner passed away in 1927, and as was customary all banks and business houses in Dade City were closed for his memorial service, his obituary read: His entire life was spent as a merchant and salesman, and he built what is now (1927) the oldest business structure in Dade City, and the only frame building…occupied until his retirement.
Not yet documented by date, a block/brick building replaced the wooden structure sometime later, and it appears that the Dade City Bakery occupied a space beside the earlier frame Shofner building and later in the brick/block building.
The Dade City’s Bakery business was opened by Roy D. Guymon around 1910. Guymon was a beloved choir director at the local church. Guymon sold the bakery to John Thomas Tipton and his son, Harry Tipton in April of 1921.
Tipton was one of perhaps the most well-known of occupants. J.W. Hunnicutt of Tampa wrote that Tipton’s was his favorite place. He recalled that breadsticks were twenty-five cents per dozen; and he added that he had consumed many dozens of the delicacies over time.
“Every bakery in Dade City after Tipton’s closed was required to have bread sticks,” said Hunnicutt.
The bakery was owned after his father Thomas’s death in 1941, by Harry Irwin Tipton who was born in Tuscarawas, Ohio and settled in Dade City by 1922 where he married Valencia Nell Davis; they lived at 37547 Church Avenue. The Tipton-owned Dade City Bakery was later moved to another location in the 1930s on 8th that was subsequently occupied by Madill’s Furniture later as well.
A new generation of habitation came with the imaginative work of Lori and Grady Cunningham, long time merchants in Dade City. They moved a tiny 1920’s vintage cottage from the home of S.J. Lewis on Church Street into the space. It was called The Picket Fence and featured a tin roof, yellow wood siding. Lori spent hours restoring the hardwood floors and created a card shop in 1995.
(Background: In the decade of the 1990s, Pasco County Property Records reveal that the structure which housed the Dade City Bakeries (of Guymon and Tipton) and various other businesses was torn down. Lewis and Mildred Abraham sold the property to Ora Gandy in 1982, who appears to have owned it for about ten years. By 1995, Glen and Gail Greenfelder owned it, and the property is listed as vacant land. The land was purchased by Grady and Lori Cunningham in 1995, and is currently in 2023. owned by Dustin Rowland.)
Today between Meridian Title Company, Auvil Law Firm and Peterson Insurance which occupy the Coleman & Ferguson building and Lanky Lassie’s Shortbread and Angel Tea Room that occupy the Essie Coleman building, Jon Auvil has created a beautiful haven for events with beautiful landscaping. The spot is ideal for a casual lunch from the food trucks that often happen by as one savors the beautiful flowers and displays. Future events will only enhance the importance of this respite location.
Mark Hannah did a lovely display of murals from his designs, Hannah Designs Artwork in 2022, to commemorate the crowning of Jon Auvil as the latest recipient of the title of Ernest Hemmingway look-alike.
Throughout Dade City, one sees history in nearly every building, nook and cranny. From this elegant space, one can gaze at the 1909 courthouse in the shadow of Coleman & Ferguson’s Mercantile. Across the street is the Touchton Building with the Treiber Building and then the Griffin Block. Imagine the elegant Seaboard Coastline train humming in the distance as it began to approach Dade City. One could not be in a more historical place of reflection. The brick mercantile business occupied by Auvil Law Firm, Meridian Title, and Peterson Insurance represents the ingenuity of its founders, Henry W. Coleman and William Ferguson who not only influenced the development of Dade City in regard to the county seat by offering to provide a temporary courthouse structure, but massaged nearly every event for the next three decades after their arrival in 1884. They engineered the placement of the Seaboard Coastline Railroad to come through Dade City as well as the construction location of the downtown depot. Without them, the evolution of the town would have a very different trajectory.