Stop 22: The Dade City Hardware and The Case Hardware
A catering company, Savory Roots Catering and Events now occupies the Davis-Newsome building at 14326 on 7th Street. The Davis-Newsome Building inhabits a sentimental space in Dade City. At first blush, one would not see many parallels between SR Catering and a hardware store, but upon investigation, they share a synergistic comradery with the communities, and particularly the merchants of different periods of time. The 1940’s and the 2020’s spaces shared interconnectedness with other merchants.
There were two long-term Hardware stores in direct vicinity. The Dade City Hardware store at the Davis building was opened by Raymond Walter Davis and his wife, Peggy Blanton Davis in 1946. Davis was from Alabama and came to Tampa during the Great Depression in 1931. He and Peggy married in 1934, and Ray went off to World War II just a few years later. When he returned after the war to his wholesale hardware job in Tampa, he and Peggy got an inkling that they wanted to open their own hardware store. It was a lifelong dream because Ray’s grandfather had operated such a store. They came to Dade City with the dream and rented a space from Edwin Charles Delong at 4322 North 7th Street. Delong had just closed his grocery/dry goods store which he had operated for fifteen years to concentrate on building construction and development. (DeLong was born in Vera Crux, Pennsylvania and moved to Dade City in 1892. A veteran of WWI, he was a lifetime member of the Gordon M. Crothers American Legion. DeLong’s wife, Cele Hodges was a pioneer resident of Pasco–pianist and choir director at First Baptist Church.)
An early advertisement in the Dade City Banner on November 1, 1946 read:
This is to announce that the Dade City Hardware Store located in the 3rd Delong Building at North 7th Street is now open for business. We wish to thank those who have already patronized us and invite everyone to visit our store. We have a few of the scarce items such as galvanized roofing, aluminum roofing, smooth surface roll roofing, a small quantity of some sizes of nails, fish trap wife netting, real Brazilian short joint fishing poles and some hard-to-get fishing tackles such as jitterbug, Dalton, special, Shakespearean, Slim Jim, etc. We also have Saplain Paints, guaranteed quality since 1882. We have enamel, porch and floor oil stain, varnish stain, auto paint, etc.
Within two and a half years, the Davis couple were ingrained in Dade City and constructed their own hardware structure at what is now 14320 7th Street, just a block and half from the Delong building. Their competitors were Treiber’s Hardware and Madill Building Supplies, right across the street. They worked long hours.
In 1962, the Davises sold their business to one of their industrious employees, John Newsome.
Comradery was strong in Dade City in the 1960s as there were two hardware stores in the very same vicinity by 1962…literally right across the street from one another.
Case Hardware at 14352 and Dade City Hardware at 14320 Seventh were cooperative with each other. Robert “Mel” Case had purchased the Madill Hardware renaming it Case Hardware in 1961. Andy Gotlieb, reporter from Tribune in 1996 said,
“In an era of giant retailers, two Dade City hardware stores are a throwback. They thrive in part by helping each other.” Stores were a block apart. …. merchants together for 35 years.
“We swap stuff back and forth,” said Newsome. They refused to have sales against each other or slash prices…. both had red brick and tin facades with lawn mowers and wheelbarrows parked outside and narrow aisles of all nature of stock.
Hardware stores served as a gathering spot and the proprietors were great at giving advice on materials but also listening to the latest issues. In a time before cell phones, twitter and other social media, one could talk with friends and neighbors at the local hardware store about not only the best size nails to use for the project but also local issues for group problem solving.
The Case Hardware Store was sold to Pasco Motors in 2007, and marked for demolition to make way for a car sales lot. By 2007, Mel Case had retired and his son, Bob had taken over. Also active in the community he was named Citizen of the Year in 2001 after the innovation to start a regular classic car show which continues as a tradition.
In 2017, The end of an era was brought to completion. Dade City Hardware in the 76-year-old Davis building was closed as well.
Times had changed for the home owner who wanted to do repairs or the local builder in search of materials as building had become more corporate and big box stores replaced the friendly neighborhood hardware store.
So, in regard to parallels, the extraordinary caterer, SR, works with a number of venues including The Block to partner for events, weddings, celebrations. The teamwork and synergy continue in 2022 in a different industry of service for the Dade City community.
Don’t be surprised when you are walking by SR, if you have the thought of neighborly talk, sky-high racks of every nature of apparatus for building and appliances or feel the urge to just randomly wave at merchants across 7th street or cars passing by. It is the climate of the place!!!
Once again as you pivot to walk south back to turn west on Live Oak Avenue, we share some bonus stops you may wish to visit via walk, drive or QR. Some of these are extensions on Meridian and others represent the general northwest area of town.
Again, they are essential to the historical chronicles of Dade City but you may wish to peruse them via the website or select stops now and then to learn more about Dade City history. All are listed as bonus stops.