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A piece of history adds polish to office
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2000
There is only so much bragging that friends and readers will tolerate about anything new (If you don't believe me, ask me about my love life and watch them run for cover), so I am trying to contain my enthusiasm for our new office, which is in the Old Dade City Hall building in (appropriately) downtown Dade City.
We like it, even though those of us on the third floor are beginning to realize the harsh reality that hot air rises and, without reference to those who occupy the lower floors, that can be a factor in a Florida summer.
And, to be fair, three flights of stairs looked a lot different to me on the paper chart from which I chose my new office, than they look to my thighs during four or five trips a day up and down them. (I think they put the coffeemaker on the ground floor as part of a de facto physical fitness program for me -- who needs it -- and for my younger colleagues -- who really don't.)
But what I want to tell you about today is the floors.
All of us with hardwood floors are proud of them. I have one friend who is so proud of the job she did in refinishing hers that she keeps them shined to the point where the glare can blind you if the setting sun hits them just right.
And we, of course, are proud of our new floors, but I had the chance eight years ago to learn a little secret that makes them even more dear.
Jean Larkin, who owns the building that we lease, first had it renovated for use as Presents, a gift shop operated by her and close friends Renie Jordan and Julia Pittman.
If you know Julia Pittman, you know that she is one of the nicest women in Pasco County. If you don't know her, you should try to finagle an introduction.
At the time that plans were being made to renovate the building where our offices are now situated, First Union Bank was replicating the brick building that had once housed its predecessor, the Bank of Pasco County, and decided to tear down the old Sunnybrook Tobacco building.
The Sunnybrook building had housed, at different times, the bank's trust department, and, the entire bank during the construction of the new brick bank building. For those of us who were devotees, the old Quaker Bar, before it moved to a location on Seventh Street, also had been part of the Sunnybrook building.
When the old buildings came down, souvenir buffs were on hand trying to grab anything . . . a brick . . . a piece of rubble . . . a splinter of wood, so that they could own a piece of history.
But Larkin and Jordan had a different type of souvenir in mind.
Larkin and her husband, Jon, salvaged the floor out of the old tobacco company and stored it, quietly, until renovations for the Old City Hall commenced.
Then, just as quietly, they had the old floor installed on the ground floor of the Old City Hall.
They did that because Pittman, who comes from a pioneer Pasco family, knew that both of her grandfathers and her father had worked at the tobacco company back when tobacco was king in East Pasco.
Larkin and Jordan thought it would be nice if Pittman could come to work each day and walk on the same floors her forebearers had and broke the news to her at a tearful luncheon shortly before Presents opened.
Presents didn't make it as a business, no surprise. Several ventures have failed in the building where Dade City movers and shakers once made governmental decisions. The businesses came and went.
But the floors remain.
And, although I had no connection to the tobacco company, I was made privy to the sentiment that went into that one particular part of the remodeling. And, although I can't gain the satisfaction that Pittman did when I come to work in the morning, I know that I come to a place where nice people did a good thing simply for the sake of doing it.
And I want those involved to know that we know.
And that we are taking good care of the floors.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.