Stop 72: The Otis E. and Naomi Scott Jones Nursing Home
The incredibly rich history of 14433 5th Street echoes the past in Dade City, Florida. Here the story of two Americans, Otis E. Jones and Naomi Scott Jones who cared for their neighbors and implemented an entrepreneurial spirit permeates. A historical marker from the Pasco County Commission and the historical preservation committee was placed in 2005 and captures much of their story:
Otis E. And Naomi Scott Jones moved to Dade City in the late 1930s and soon became prominent members of the community and St. Paul Missionary Church, where they served as deacon and deaconess. Nearby Naomi Jones Pyracantha Park which Mrs. Jones helped to develop and maintain as a part of the Mickens-Harper Subdivision was renamed in her honor by the city in 1992.
In the early 1960’s, Mr. and Mrs. Jones arranged for the construction of this building to serve as a nursing home. For a while, it was the only nursing home in Dade City, and is believed to be the first in the area to accept both Black and White residents. They owned and operated it as Jones’ Nursing Home for many years before selling it to corporate owners.
Following the closure of the facility, after a recession of owners, it was purchased in the late 2003 by Saint Leo University. Renovation of the building soon followed to accommodate the university’s growth and to establish a presence in downtown Dade City. The transformation of the former Jones’ Nursing Home will serve as a lasting reminder of the contribution of Otis E. and Naomi Scott Jones, local pioneer African-American entrepreneurs.
At the marker dedication in 2005, the Jones’ daughter Alfreda Jones Pinkston explained that her parents built a home on the 5th Street property and then opened a popular barbecue restaurant that funded her college education and that of her siblings. Over time her parents realized a sincere need for a nursing home in the community. Its evolution was after years in which Otis and Naomi found themselves caring for people. A component of the care came from Naomi’s nurturing personality and love of cooking. She was the first one to prepare a dish for anyone in need. “My parents just had a heart for people in need. Often folks did not have relatives who were able to care for them.”
The first true nursing home rather than an old folks holding location, Pinkston explained that the home served folks of all races. There were guests who were African American, Caucasian…just all people regardless of their background were welcome and served with kindness and care. Strong members of the St Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Otis and Naomi were deacons and transported patients there on Sundays, several of whom were also officers of the church.
In 2003, Saint Leo University purchased the old building and refurbished it as an extension of its university facilities and funded the marker with the county commission. The university’s completed project was dedicated in 2005, and the historical marker was placed at the location. The marker was the idea of Hazel Wells who once worked at the nursing home. The 8,000 square foot building was renovated at a cost of $250,000 and as of 2004, included officers for twenty Saint Leo employees and two classrooms for weekend and evening classes.
Dade City Commissioner Scott Black said that the city was thrilled to have Saint Leo as a shareholder in the city of Dade City. Black, who was also represented the Pasco County Historical Preservation Committee, gave a brief history of the building. Saint Leo University president Arthur Kirk said, “This is a great day for Saint Leo University and I think also for the city of Dade City. It is really an intersection of visions.”
Otis and Naomi were African American entrepreneurs who raised their children to have a spirit of service and modeled this caring attitude to others!