Clothier, banker and history maker

A museum will introducethe genius of Hubert Rutland to a new generation.

By Mary Jane Park
Published February 4, 2007

Entrepreneur and banker Hubert Rutland Sr. paid cash for quality clothing in New York and Chicago and brought it home to St. Petersburg to sell at prices far below those at competing department stores.

Bud Rutland remembers his grandfather offering 120 dozen white Arrow dress shirts at $2 apiece. The entire lot sold within 48 hours, and Rutland Sr. made $1.50 apiece on them.

Hubert Rutland Sr., a creative genius with a Midas touch, died in 1988 at age 94, leaving an estate then valued at about $80-million.

"His empire was quite diverse and far reaching," Bud Rutland said.

The St. Petersburg Museum of History hopes a new generation of residents will get to know him through an exhibit titled "Hubert Rutland, Chairman of the Board." It opens March 17.

To bolster the exhibit, the museum is holding what it calls a Rutland Family Reunion, which starts Monday. Through Feb. 16, workers will accept old photographs, memorabilia and artifacts connected with the longtime executive. Rutland Bussey, a museum trustee who is also a grandson of the legendary businessman, will help decide what items to feature in the show.

Having recently moved from St. Petersburg to Dade City, Bussey had his own cache of family mementos, which he discarded in the last-minute exhaustion of packing up the house. Fortunately, somebody went through his trash bin, rescued the items and donated them to the museum, he said.

Hubert Rutland started out with a department store and acquired more than 30,000 acres in Manatee County during the Depression, Bussey said. He later founded a bank and began practices that seemed innovative at the time: Early and late hours at drive-in windows on Fridays, Saturday hours, an automated teller machine and no minimum balance requirements.

"Granddaddy used to say, 'I don't have to make a lot of money, but it's nice to make money,' " Bussey said. "He got a lot of people in there."

You can contribute

Bring in old photos

Do you have old photographs, memorabilia and artifacts for the Hubert Rutland Sr. exhibit? Take them to the St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE, now through Feb. 16. Items will be accepted during normal museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; and noon to 7 p.m. Monday.