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Stop 5: The 1926 Dade City Hall

Copyright © 2024

Next is the spectacular 2016 City of Dade City Building (previous location of 1925 George C. Dayton building).


       We have now arrived at a piece of modern history, the new city hall and police station of Dade City, designed by Wannemacher and Jensen Architects and constructed by Ajax Building Company in 2016–a stunning complex! The design echoes Dade City’s historic main street while housing police and administration.  As you gaze at the brick complex, let’s reflect upon the original building, The George C. Dayton Building held this space for close to 100 years, and it weaves an interesting story of local history.


    As part of the real estate boom with unprecedented population growth and building, the original 1925 plan was to create a spectacular six-story hotel with a façade of masonry and limestone. The local news coverage reported weekly the monetary value of building and growth, and was clearly languishing in a time of great prosperity. 


    The collapse of the Florida Boom however, abruptly halted the unprecedented population and economic growth and brought the hotel endeavor to an abrupt screeching pause.


     Transformed into a municipal building, after the city acquired it because of years of delinquent taxes owed, the building was depicted in many historical photos.  Dealing with the economic crises in the Great Depression, there were delays but it was completed in the 1930s, with funding from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal project known as the Works Progress Administration, WPA. A World War II look-out tower was positioned on top of the building in the heat of the war, and volunteer citizens manned the tower as a safety measure during the ardor of concern regarding the intensity of the war. The structure served as a city hall for many decades until 2013.


      The long tenured city attorney George C. Dayton said that the old city hall was the best place to shelter with an approaching hurricane because it was physically the strongest building in the county as it was tested by a certified laboratory. 


    The city honored Dayton for his years of service by naming the building for him in 1987.

  • 1924-1926

    Florida Land Boom: Florida’s first real estate bubble brought land speculation from around 1924 to 1927 and attracted investors during a period of prosperity Wide speculation ended in a boom in May of 1926 and economic decline that predated the Great Depression.

  • 1925

    Plan for a six-story “Community Hotel” with a façade of masonry and limestone in Dade City was unveiled.

  • 1926

    Contractor R.M. Anderson reported that the steel was in place in the “Community Hotel.” Anderson addressed the naysayers who commented the building process was slow. With foreshadowing of what was to come, Anderson mentioned that the stocks and bonds of $100,000 needed to be paid by the subscriptions in order for the structure to be completed. (Dade City Banner, August 6, 1926). According to former Dade City Mayor Lawrence Puckett, the building was to be a 6-story community hotel, but was abandoned at the 4th-floor slab. The city reclaimed it for non-payment of taxes. Works Progress Administration provided a municipal 4 story building, it was completed in the 1930s with funding from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and was Dade City’s City Hall until 2013.

  • 1940

    Dade City converted the skeleton of the community hotel construction into a city hall in 1940 with WPA resources.

  • 1941

    Cornerstone of November 11, 1941 stated, “Homecoming for the voice of victory: Mayor F.M. Ashbrook and Commissioners T. D. Fosburg, C.L. Williams, L.R. Douglas and G.C. Dayton."

  • 1963

    Remodeled front of the building.

  • 1968

    Housed clerk’s office and records on ground floor along with managers office and city commission room which doubled as city courtroom. Revamped to provide modern police facilities, a better jail and a new jail dining room.

  • 1981

    Free phones provided to the Dade City City Hall by Florida Telephone in the franchise agreement were removed per the public service commission.

  • 1984

    Candlelight vigil to commemorate National Domestic Violence Awareness Week by Sunrise Spouse Abuse Shelter in front of Dade City City Hal.

  • 1985

    City parking expanded for city hall with purchase of lot owned by City Commissioner William Brewton Tower.

  • 1986

    Reception for the District 4 Girl’s Softball team for 16-18-year-olds form the Big League World Series who finished second place in the nation (girls from Dade City, Zephyrhills and Plant City).

  • 1987

    The building was named for George C. Dayton, who was the son of Judge Orvil L. Dayton, Sr. He graduated from UF Law School in 1932 and joined the firm of Dayton, Dayton & Dayton. First elected to the Florida House in 1947, he also served in Florida Senate from 1950-1954 and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and general counsel for the Road Department. Dayton also served as county attorney from 1940-1948 and 1964-1986.

  • 2013

    demolition of the 1926 Community Hotel/Dade City City Hall Building.

  • 2016

    Building replaced with Wannemacher and Jensen architectural building constructed by Ajax Building Company adjacent to original site.