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"Rufus said he kind of liked the idea of slow. That's the way he thought Largo ought to be." - Bob Delack, former Largo Area Historical Society president.

By Times Staff Writer
Published October 7, 2007


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"Rufus said he kind of liked the idea of slow. That's the way he thought Largo ought to be."

Bob Delack, former Largo Area Historical Society president

Cyrus Lowery came to Largo, probably about 1879. I'm not sure where he came from, I think from South Carolina.

He built a log cabin located at the corner of what's now Clearwater-Largo Road and the intersection of West Bay Drive, the northeast corner where the vacant Eckerd building now sits. He homesteaded the property in 1881. He stayed on the property for about 10 years.

About 1891, about the same time the first plat of the city of Largo was done, he sold the property. It was a 160-acre homestead and it ran all the way from Fourth Avenue N on the north to Fourth Avenue S on the south, to Fourth Street on the east and to the railroad tracks on the west. In other words, it's pretty much half of downtown Largo.

He moved to Clearwater, opened a variety store on Cleveland Street where he sold stuffed alligators and alligator shoes and handbags and all that kind of stuff. Indian headdresses. There's some interesting pictures of him doing that.

His home was on Laura Street, which was right next to our house. I never knew the original Cyrus Lowery, but I knew his son, Cy Lowery Jr. who was constable of Pinellas County. They just tore down the Cyrus Lowery House. It was moved from Laura Street out to Palmetto Street. It had a shell fence that ran all the way across it. He collected conch shells and built a fence out of them. That fence is going to be saved and put out at Heritage Village.

* * *

Rufus McMullen was one of the sons of Daniel McMullen. A large clan. Daniel homesteaded in the Largo area back in 1852, in the area where Kmart is now located. Rufus built his home originally down on Seminole Boulevard around where Orange Lake Village is located today.

That home was later moved by horse and wagon up Seminole Boulevard to a location here on what is now Largo Central Park facing west. It was located next to the Charles Wharton Johnson house, which was the first three-story house in Largo.

In 1888 when they were trying to choose a name for the new railroad depot that had just been built for Largo, they had a meeting, about five guys, and Rufus was one of them. He suggested the name of Largo based on the lake a little to the east of where we're sitting now. Somebody objected and said Largo in music meant slow.

Rufus said he liked the idea of slow. That's the way he thought Largo ought to be. Later, in 1920, when this property was sold by Johnson to the county for the county fairgrounds, the Charles Wharton Johnson house was moved to First Avenue NE and the Rufus McMullen house was moved to the west and attached to the back of the Largo Hotel, which is in the process of being torn down as we speak.

BIO

Bob Delack

- Moved to Largo for the first time in September 1947

- Former director of Henry B. Plant Museum for the city of Tampa

- President of the Pinellas Pioneer Association

- Past president of the Pinellas County Historical Society

[Last modified October 7, 2007, 00:06:38]


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