Can you imagine a Dunedin where pigs – hogs rather – could roam free? What about growing up on what is now Caladesi Island? Or a time when Main Street was known as Oak Street?
It’s hard to believe so much has changed in Dunedin’s relatively short history, but that’s why a visit to the newly renovated Dunedin History Museum is fascinating. Just across the street from Café Alfresco, housed in the town’s original train station, you’ll find interactive exhibits highlighting Dunedin through the years, filled with stories of survival, tourism, romance and innovation. We don’t want to spoil the fun of visiting the museum, but to pique your interest, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite bits of history. Keep reading…
10 Fun Facts about Dunedin’s History:
1. In the 1800s, it was discovered that today’s Dunedin was the seasonal home of the Tocobaga Indians, a Safety Harbor culture, who inhabited the area from 900 to 1500 AD.
Postcard of Oak Street (today’s Main Street) Dunedin circa 1913 | Photo from the Dunedin Historical Museum
2. Dunedin is the oldest town in Pinellas County and began as a remote settlement in 1852. Originally named, Jonesboro, two Scottish immigrants renamed the settlement to Dunedin in 1882 (The name comes from the Scottish-Gaelic form of Edinburgh, Scotland, Dùn Èideann).
3. Hogs and farm animals used to roam free, until Dunedin was incorporated in 1899.
4. Caladesi and Honeymoon Island used to be one island, until a hurricane separated the two in the 1921.
5. Cereal King, W.K. Kellogg, became wealthy after making Corn Flakes, and purchased a mansion in 1934 to call Dunedin his winter home. During WWII, the mansion was used as a Marine barrack.
6. Dunedin has always been a tourist destination and recreation area. Adding to Dunedin’s hospitality history, Bon Appétit Restaurant (our sister restaurant), has been operating on the Dunedin waterfront for over 40 years, under the same owners.
St. Andrews Chapel in 1888 | Photo from SavingPlaces.org
7. Andrews Memorial Chapel was once located downtown, but was moved to its current location in the 1970s (at the edge of Hammock Park on San Mateo Drive) .
Honeymooners in 1940 standing outside of their cottage on Honeymoon Isle (Honeymoon Island)
Photo from Floridarambler.com
8. Honeymoon Isle, aka Honeymoon Island, received national attention after Clinton M. Washburn, owner of the Island, invited newlyweds to come honeymoon on the island. Newlyweds participated in recreational activities, visited with other couples and stayed in wooden thatched huts built on the beach!
9. Donald Roebling, an American inventor and engineer, is known for inventing the Landing Vehicle Tracked, or Alligator. The LVT could operate in water and on land and was used by both the American and British forces in WWII. Today, one of the last remaining LVTs lives right here in Dunedin – located at the VFW Post 2550 (South on Douglas Avenue towards the Blue Jays Stadium).
10. Fan of the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones? Well, you can thank Dunedin High School for educating David Nutter, the Emmy Award winning director. Nutter graduated from DHS in 1978.
Pretty cool, eh? And these 10 facts only scratch the surface. We encourage you to visit the museum to fully appreciate the local history. The museum will captivate people of all ages, residents and tourists alike. Plus, the staff is very friendly and informative, too! The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. If you happen to work up an appetite, don’t forget, Café Alfresco is just across the street serving up awesome lunch specials and delicious dinners. Oh, and we almost forgot, Dunedin residents are offered FREE admission (regularly $5 for adults) to the museum until October 31, 2018!