This is a melancholy trip for me, since it was one of the last I took with Mom. We did Bartow to Arcadia, then over to Lake Placid and up US 27. This will be about the first half.
However, we’ll start in Mulberry, which Mom and I didn’t go through. I got there about a year later. The only reason I went was to see the Mulberry Phosphate Museum, since that was a major industry in days of yore. I didn’t go in. Yeah, me and museums. There may be more to see there, but you’ll have to figure if there’s enough enticement to go there, folks. (see Google map)
- Mulberry Phosphate Museum (101 Southeast 1st Street)
Take SR 60 east and you’ll run straight into Bartow. It has 1 commercial and 2 residential historic districts, and several NRHP sites. They’re spread out somewhat, so there’s as much driving as walking involved. The county historical society is in the old courthouse, where you can learn more details regarding the area’s past. (see Google map)
- Bartow Downtown Commercial District (Roughly bounded by Davidson and Summerlin Streets and Broadway and Florida Avenues) (NRHP)
- Northeast Bartow Residential District (Roughly bounded by Jackson and First Avenues and by Church and Boulevard Streets) (NRHP)
- South Bartow Residential District (Roughly bounded by Floral and First Avenues and Main and Vine Streets) (NRHP)
- Mann Manor (325 West Main Street)
- Oak Hill Cemetery (399 West Parker Street) (NRHP)
- Major General Law monument (Summerlin Street and Broadway)
- Old Polk County Courthouse (100 East Main Street) (NRHP)
- Benjamin Franklin Holland House (590 East Stanford Street) (NRHP)
- John J. Swearingen House (690 East Church Street) (NRHP)
- Lawrence Brown House (470 Second Avenue) (NRHP)
- Thompson and Company Cigar Factory (255 North Third Avenue) (NRHP)
Once done with central Bartow, head south on US 17/US 98. Before you get completely out of town, there are a couple more sites of historical interest. First is what’s left of South Florida Military College, which is now a private residence. Then there’s the Conrad Schuck House, which is one of the trippiest homes I’ve ever seen. (see Google map)
- South Florida Military College (1100 South Broadway) (NRHP)
- Conrad Schuck House (1075 Mann Road) (AGFHA)
From south of Bartow to Arcadia the road is one of the most unmoving roads in the state. I mean, you can move on it. But it’s not especially thrilling, at least between inhabited places. Good for getting you from point to point, but scenical it ain’t.
Look for the sign for the Homeland Heritage Park and take a right at the light at CR 640. In a short bit you’ll arrive at the park. There’s a collection of historical buildings, some of which I’m sure were moved there. I’ve seen a few parks like this all over the state. Macclenny, for example. Amongst the buildings is the old Homeland School, which is on the NRHP. To me, the nicest thing is the old church.
When you go back to US 17, if you cross it you’ll find Mosaic Peace River Park. The Peace River parallels the road all the way down to Arcadia, and is on the east side most of the way. There are a few parks along the river, and this is one of the larger ones. There’s a boardwalk that’ll get you to the river, and it feels like you’re in a tropical rainforest. I rather liked it more than I thought I would. (see Google map)
Continue south and you’ll be in Fort Meade. A large part of it is a historic district. Quite a lot of neat old homes, so take some time and drive around. Don’t miss the old Christ Church, either. (see Google map)
- Fort Meade Historic District (Roughly bounded by North 3rd Street, Orange Avenue, South 3rd Street and Sand Mountain Road) (NRHP)
- W. Henry Lewis House (424 North Oak Ave) (PENDING NRHP)
- Fort Meade Town/City Hall (8 West Broadway)
- Christ Church (331 East Broadway) (NRHP)
Fort Meade is the last city you’ll be going through in Polk County. After this, you’ll go through 2 more counties, their county seats, and some other towns too. Bit like US 90, but flatter and less trees. But that’s all in the next post. Later, and see you on the road!