Stop 77: 1908 Dade City Ice, Light, and Power Plant
The Dade City Ice, Light, and Power Company, Incorporated at 14520 5th Street, Dade City, FL is essential to the unfolding story of Dade City’s growth and development. The Tampa Morning Tribune reported in 1905 that “an electric light and water works plant will soon be in operation here, the franchise for them having been granted to a company incorporated by J.D. Sperry, D.B. Mills, and Emil Muller.” Muller was with the original ice works while Mills hailed from the Dade City Hotel and Sperry was a capitalist from St. Louis, planning to relocate to Dade City. George Dayton recalled that in 1908, electric power was functional and by 1924, the “white way lighting system” was in place.
Thanks to James D. Adcock and J. Thomas Touchton, we were able to identify the location of the power company. Adcock confirmed that the old icehouse sat on the current location of Tampa Electric Company (TECO) on 5th Street. Examining the 1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance map further shows the building configuration. With the entrance door on the north side, one surmises that it was roughly the same space as the Dade City Ice, Light and Power Company from 1914.
Imagine that power companies were vastly different in the fledgling twentieth century. Touchton said, I recall going to the ice plant as a young boy and walking in the huge room where very large blocks of ice were kept before they were cut into smaller pieces to be distributed around town. He also recalled that his family owned a tenant house where the ranch manager, Harold Snider resided. The “ice truck” made a delivery every few days for the “ice box” in that very small house which did not have a refrigerator.
Gloria Baldwin Hunnicutt shared an iconic photo of a horse drawn wagon painted with “Dade City Utilities Company” and “ICE.” She discovered the vintage photo at an antique shop in the Tampa Bay area where proprietor, a Mr. Bishop explained that he was retired from TECO and had salvaged the photo from equipment inventory that was being purged. Gloria further explained that her grandfather, Andrew Jackson Hayward, a Dade City native (1897 – 1971), drove the ice wagon for Dade City Utilities for several years in the 1920’s and ’30’s. My uncle, Loyal Hayward, also a Dade City native, said that when he was a young boy, he frequently rode the ice route with his father.
Uncle Loyal said Dade City Utilities purchased the white horse from Coleman & Ferguson Funeral Home when the funeral home bought the first motorized hearse in Pasco County. Often, when my grandfather and Uncle Loyal were taking ice into a house, the horse would return to the funeral home. They would hitch a ride back to town, reconnect with the wagon and continue their route.