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Stop 20: The 1920’s Highlands Motor Company

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This 21,000 plus square foot historic building has housed automobile dealerships over the past 70 years beginning in the 1920s. It was originally operated by the Highlands Motor Company. 

 

    The Block has been revitalized and fully restored to showcase its mix of history and modernized amenities to provide a variety of businesses and services for the Dade City community and beyond. The Block offers a full serviced scratch kitchen, hometown Dade City brewhouse and full bar along with outdoor entertainment space to host family-friendly activities. 

 

     Larry Guilford and other locals facilitate occasional block parties as an opportunity to build the community. There is a street party on the second Friday of the month, next to the venue at 14307 7th Street. Guilford is also the founder and president of Make a Difference, his 501c3 nonprofit that helps with social, educational, and economical services to improve the quality of life.

 

     The name Highlands reflected a decision by the local Dade City Board of Trade…the precursor to the Chamber of Commerce to promote Dade City as the “Highlands of Florida” in the era around World War I, said historian William Dayton. John S. Burks known as “ECONOMY JOHN,” operated the dealership for 32 years. He was also over time, the speaker pro tempore of the Florida Senate and a Dade City Mayor. James L. Huckabay subsequently owned the dealership from 1955 to 1984, and was also a Mayor of Dade City. 

 

     Many of the advertisements for the General Motors products that were sold at this location discuss a founding in 1923! It moved from a previous location in Dade City and was a mainstay of the developing town for almost one hundred years. 

 

      Photos and news coverage help to tell the story of the emerging automobile in the twentieth century. There was an ongoing rivalry among the car dealerships in this county seat town which was the premiere location to purchase a vehicle of most any model. Pasco Motors was also a long-term dealership as was the Hudson dealership at 402 North 7th and the Dodge dealership at the intersection of 5th street and Pasco Avenue. The Ford dealership (Stop 20) which you visited earlier held part of a very intense rivalry. 

 

    The Block currently houses the following businesses: The Dade City Brew House, The Concept, The Venue, and CrossFit. More merchants will undoubtedly enter the picture as the story unfolds.

 

    Peruse some of the advertisements, information, and even photos of the metamorphosis of Highlands Motors to become the trendy Block. Many of the features of the original plant have been ingenuously incorporated into the modern structure. It is a kind of Armature Works setting (similar to the remade industrial location, turned service area in Tampa) that is tailor-made for Dade City.

 

    Some other YouTube video about The Block provides additional information. Check out a YouTube video below if you would like to know more about the renovation process.

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