SOME SIGHTS OF INTEREST ON

TERRA CEIA ISLAND

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1. Cistern: The small dome-shaped mound located here is a cistern built to collect and hold rainwater. The early settlers depended on cisterns for their supply of fresh water. This cistern probably dates the mid-1800’s when the James Greene Williams family built a house here. The house was destroyed by fire in 1915, but the cistern remains as a reminder of the importance of fresh water to the first settlers.

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2. Hubbard House: A small one story house stands where the Hubbard house once stood. The old home built here by E. S. Hubbard burned in the 1940’s and this house was built to replace it. Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Hubbard came to Terra Ceia in 1888. Mr. Hubbard opened a store right on the Bank of Terra Ceia Bay and built a dock out into the bay where steamboats could bring supplies. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, stores and homes lined both sides of Bayshore Drive in this area, and the waterfront was the center of island activity.

3. Gates Annex House: The main section of this house was built in the 1890’s. In the 1910’s when the railroad became the major means of transporting supplies and the importance of the steamboats decreased, emphasis was shifted from the waterfront to an inland area. At this time, the Gates store was moved as well. The abandoned store building was annexed to this house and forms the section of the house parallel to the road.

4. Haben House: This large two story home is a relative newcomer to the island. It was built in the 1940’s by Ralph Haben, Sr. on the site of the house built by the Howard and Kennedy families. These two families first came to Terra Ceia in the 1870’s. Mr. Kennedy discoved the first artesian well on Terra Ceia. This discovery of a fresh water source helped to make the island a major agricultural area, for farmers could irrigate their fields and did not have to rely on rainfall. The Howard-Kennedy house was torn down to make room for the Haben house. Haben’s son, Ralph Haben, Jr., a former member of the Florida State House of Representatives, grew up here.

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5. T. Ralph Robinson House: This two story wooden house built by T. Ralph Robinson in 1911 was originally built up off the ground to protect the house from flooding. Later, the bottom of the house was enclosed to make the house look like it does today. Robinson was a citrus grower and managed a citrus packing house on the north side of the island. He developed a type of tangerine and the Jolly Joe Mango. Robinson was also the President of the Manatee County Historical Society in 1949.

6. Pollard House: This large home was built by R. D. Pollard in the early 1910’s. Pollard was also a citrus grower and was one of the first islanders to sell fruit by express and to ship fruit by railroad in large quantities.

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7. Center Road Dock: Extending southward from Center road was once a large community dock. The dock was built about 1910 and was wide enough so that wagons could be rolled right out to the end and loaded from the steamboats. The dock was a gathering place for the area. People fished here and often caught sharks from the end of the dock.

8. Atzeroth Homesite: In 1843, Joseph and Julia Atzeroth built a log cabin here. The Atzeroths were the first permanent white settlers on Terra Ceia, and a historical marker commemorates the spot where they once lived. The foundation of stones of the Atzeroth home can still be seen. Nearby was a fresh water spring.

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9. Halsey House: This stone house was constructed of fossilized rock found in fields nearby. It was built in 1920’s by W. A. and Eunice Halsey. The Halseys bought this property in 1912 and grew citrus trees here.

10. Hallock-Abel House: In 1883, Madam Joe Atzeroth sold 24 acres of land to William R. Hallock for $2000. The main part of this tall house was built by Hallock in 1885. Later, the W. H. Abels bought the property, and Mrs. Abel conducted the first Terra Ceia school in the parlor of this house.

11. Fogarty House: This house with a steeply sloped roof was built in 1875 by William Henry Fogarty. Fogarty was one of four brothers who first settled on the shore of the Manatee River in the area of West Bradenton once known as Fogartyville. Fogarty was married to Madam Joe Atzeroth’s daughter, Eliza. This house was built on land granted to Eliza by the government. Fogarty was a ship builder and the original house was built similar to a ship. It was constructed of hard pine and put together with wooden pegs instead of nails. Lanterns from a ship were used throughout the house, and a cupboard with doors taken from the cupboard of a ship was underneath the stairs. The original house had since been remodeled. Fogarty was a farmer as well as a ship builder and was the first farmer on Terra Ceia to use an overhead irrigation system. Fogarty also built a dock in front of his house so that his crops could be loaded directly onto steamboats for transport to Tampa where they were sold.

12. Madira Bickel Mound: The Madira Bickel Indian Mound is but one of several Indian mounds that once lined the western shore of Terra Ceia. These mounds were connected by shell walkways, and there were two burial mounds, a flat topped temple mound, and many shell middens or small mounds. Both burial mounds and 80% of the shell mounds have been removed to provide shell for the early roads of Manatee County. The Bickel mound is 100 x 170 feet at its base and twenty feet in height. It was built as a plat form for ceremonial buildings such as a temple and chief ’s house and is composed of sand, shell and village debris. Next to the mound is a level field that was perhaps used as a ball court. The low sandy area 100 feet across and 18 inches high on the north side of the mound was once a burial mound. In 1914, it was removed for road fill, and approximately 27 skeletons were uncovered.

13. Boots Point: This area was also once covered with mounds that have since been removed for fill. In the mid 1800’s, Miguel Guerero, a Spanish fisherman, established a fish camp in this area. Miguel Bay and Miguel Island are named for him. Miguel married Frederica Kramer, Madam Joe’s niece from Bavaria. In 1856, Frederica, Miguel and two of five children died of fever in 1868. In 1893, the Johnson family settled here. The point is name for Boots Johnson, a member of the family.

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14. Jones-Prine House: This large two story house has porches running two-thirds of the way around it to help cool its interior. It was built in 1895 by Jesse Jones. Jones owned a large celery farm in the early 1900’s. He was one of several celery growers on the island. Celery grew well here, and stalks were sent all over the United States. The large barn behind the house was used as a mule barn. During the 1920’s, farm production was done with mules and horses on Terra Ceia. Eventually the house would be bought by Robert Prine. He was a member of the Manatee County School Board for whom Prine Elementary School is named

15. Old Shed: (Still exists - unable to get picture due to overgrowth) - This old shed is a reminder of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The Great Depression that hurt the farm industry of Terra Ceia led many farmers to quit farming and allow their fields to return to a natural state. The tidal wave of 1932 killed much of the island’s vegetation and ruined large areas of soil.

16. Tillett House: (This house has been incorporated into the home now owned by the Goffs) - Joseph Tillett found the island an ideal place to hunt and fish while on a hunting trip to the area. He returned to his home in Myakka, gathered up his family, took his home apart and brought the whole homestead to Terra Ceia. He set up his home on the shore of what is now called Tillets Bayou in 1886. This house is the same one that survived the thirty mile trip from Myakka.

17. Dirr Office and Home: Mr. and Mrs. Lundy Dirr were one of the first families on Terra Ceia to grow flowers commercially. They found the island soil and climate ideal for gladiolus and established Dirr’s Loam Grown Gladiolus in 1926. The little office building was Mr. Dirr’s office, and the two story house down the road on the right was the Dirr home. The first floor of the house was used as a shop and a working area; the Dirrs lived upstairs.

18. Dole House and Banyan Tree: (Willis Underwood currently resides in this house) On the right side of the road behind a wide field is a large banyan tree. The tree was planted in the early 1900’s by Mrs. E. B. Dole. The house was built in the late 1880’s - early 1890’s by the Dole family. Now the tree hides the house almost completely.

19. Old Bank and Post Office: The building on the southwest corner of Terra Ceia Road and Center Road was built in 1912 to house the Bank of Terra Ceia. This bank was built soon after the railroad extended its tracks to Terra Ceia. These tracks ended on the northeast corner of the intersection, and a depot was built there. In 1931, the Bank of Terra Ceia failed. Now the building houses the post office.

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20. Store Building: On the southeast corner of the Terra Ceia Road and Center Road intersection is the foundation of an old store building. Built about 1910 when the center of island activity shifted from the waterfront to the railroad tracks, the store was once very prosperous.

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21. First Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church of Terra Ceia was founded in 1904. This property given to the church in 1905 has held two different buildings. The first church building was erected in 1905. The old church building has since been replaced.

22. Terra Ceia United Methodist Church: The Terra Ceia Methodist Church was organized in 1899. In 1914, this property was deeded to the church, and a year later, this building was constructed. This church is still active today!

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23. Terra Ceia Village Improvement Association Hall: The Terra Ceia Village Improvement Association was organized on May 2, 1901 as the first Women’s Club in the state of Florida. The club which now includes men among its members is still active today and meets regularly in this building which was built in 1907. Activities of the V.I.A. revolve around their goal to improve and beautify Terra Ceia Island. Early activities included building a schoolhouse and placing fill on the roads. Today, the VIA is concerned with issues such as zoning and community development.

Typesetting and photography
courtesy of
Janet Thoreson
Additional historical photographs courtesy of Manatee County Public Library System
1301 Barcarrota Blvd. West, Bradenton, FL 34205

THE HALEY HOUSE

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The Haley House, once the grandest home on Terra Ceia, with a commanding location at the entrance to the island is shown in photo from the private collection of the great-grandson of D.G. Haley, Mr. Ross Perry. The house was built around 1919 and had great views of Terra Ceia bay, unobstructed by the pervasive, invasive Brazillian Pepper tree that take over everything. D. G. Haley owned two large commercial gladiola farms. Terra Ceia Island Farms and Terra Ceia Bay Farms were two of the largest producing firms in the world, frequently shipping more than 200,000 gladioli a day to all parts of the nation. He died in the late 1970's.

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The house is now a regional headquarters for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the new Terra Ceia State Park.

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