Stop 2: The 1920’s Band Stand (later dedicated as 1948 World War II Memorial)
Veer slightly left from the north entrance of the courthouse while remaining on the courthouse grounds and you will see the bandstand.
Historian Carol Jeffares Hedman researched John Phillip Sousa and found that the bandmaster and march composer visited Dade City for two concerts during his annual Florida tour with his family. “His first performance was at Pasco High School and a repeat concert was on the courthouse lawn,” wrote Hedman.
Local town bands were a huge rage in the 1920s. Nearly every local area had a community band. Similar to the Fifth Sunday Sings, the concerts were a huge attraction and regular band competitions were celebrated. Many neighboring towns had a festive bandstand in their downtown square, and locals were keenly aware of the need for a gazebo-styled stage. Locals hoped to encourage the aging and widely popular Sousa to return for a concert as he did regular tours through Florida and was featured around the USA in news coverage for his compositions and his charming wit.
Impassioned citizens emphatically raised money to erect a Dade City Bandstand in gazebo fashion. The fundraising effort was a compilation of the Alpha Sorosis Society, the Woman’s Club, and Women’s Relief Corps, assisted by the local band director, Harold Aughenbaugh who hosted fundraising dinners and hosted entertainment.
Hedman also reported that the construction began in 1921 on the bandstand at the courthouse lawn, and the Dade City Banner reported that the gazebo was nearing dedication in 1925, although it had hosted events including an oration by William Jennings Bryan in 1924. As for architecture the band stand was built on brick piers with ornamental brick lattice work and a fireproof Holland tile roof.
The picturesque bandstand later metamorphosed into a World War II memorial. The Gordon M. Crothers Post of the American Legion and Auxiliary brought about the transformation under the yearlong leadership of Nina Madill. Local artist Claude Hester hand-painted the 1,860 names of local military veterans of World War II on the panels for the dedication on Flag Day, June 14, 1948. With a number of renovations, the iconic gazebo was re-dedicated on Flag Day of 2014.
The gazebo has been the site of many local concerts, orations, and ceremonies over time. The solemnity of the swaying trees and the grounds offer a perfect background for milestone events that mark the history. The Dade City Garden Club featured the bandstand on their 2012 historical ornament.
For more information: https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=214836