The Stories

304 Hillcrest Street

The house at 304 Hillcrest has been known by a couple different street numbers through the years (222, 302 & 306). As of 1917, it was only the second home on the south side of the street as you go west from Florida Avenue. It was also the only home on that block. The 304 street number stuck as of the street renumbering effort in 1924 and has remained since. As for the home’s age, the Polk County Appraiser’s Office lists the year of construction as 1913. A search of Lakeland’s 1915-16 directory doesn’t reveal any insight; however, the 1917-18 directory lists William & Mabel Moore as the occupants. The 1920 Census shows they owned the home (mortgaged). Looking back to the 1915 directory, we see that the Moore’s home was on Tennessee Ave. S. at the time. So who, if anyone lived in the house between 1913 and 1917?

The answer revealed itself in researching the Moores. Who were they? We can conclude that sometime in 1916, William Stephen & Mabel A [Drane] Moore had moved into the house. William was President of Moore’s Little Style Shop and a merchant tailor. The shop was in business from 1914 to at least 1931. William had moved from Virginia and Mabel Drane was born here in Lakeland. They met shortly thereafter at a party and were married on November 2, 1915.

That night it was noted in the Lakeland Evening Telegram, which covered the wedding that, “Upon their return to Lakeland, Mr. and Mrs. Moore will be at home to their friends in the beautiful new home, in the Drane Addition, which Mr. Moore is having built, and which when completed will be one of the most attractive residences in the city.” With this bit of information, we now know that the home was under construction as of November 1915. They honeymooned in Cuba with plans to move into the new home upon their return, so it would seem the house was complete in early 1916 (rather than 1913) and, indeed, Stephen and Mabel were the original builders and owners.

As William’s business grew through the years, so did their family. Their son Stephen was born in 1919 and a second son Herbert in 1920. They remained at 304 Hillcrest until at least 1931. William still lived on Hillcrest [at a house a block away] when he passed in 1966. Mabel, who lived to 99 years of age and had moved into her family home across from Drane Park passed in 1989. They never moved from the neighborhood and are both buried in Lakeland Memorial Gardens. Mabel’s father, as you may have already guessed, was Herbert Drane, one of Lakeland’s pioneer founding fathers.

943 S Tennessee Avenue
‘Lost’ Dixieland historic home, ‘found’ in Lake Morton Historic District

By Christopher Olson

LMCH Researcher

When asked to research a potential century home last week I was very surprised to realize the lot on Tennessee had been undeveloped decades after 1920. Even more confusing was that the shape of the home on the Tennessee lot today is very typical in design to a home built in the 1920’s. Just to confirm, I made a trip to the library as they have a collection of aerial photographs of the entire city from 1925. With the help of LuAnn Mims, the Special Collections Librarian, we found a photo that included the lot on Tennessee. We confirmed that the lot was indeed vacant. What was going on; this made no sense? There was a break in the case after I reported back to the current owners that the existence of their home was a mystery to me. It was then that they provided a very curious bit of information. “Years ago, an older, now passed, neighbor casually mentioned how she recalled the day the house was moved from Florida Avenue to its current position.” I scratched my head and thought, “Which house and when?”

Scanning north and south along the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company’s 1922 map of the homes on Florida, I spied a candidate that was of similar size and shape. A quick check revealed that this home no longer existed on the Florida lot. I then determined that the building currently on the lot had been built in 1954. Checking the city directories around that year for both properties broke the case. The owners, Arthur & Beaulah Strickland, had relocated their home between 1950 and 1951, having purchased the lot on Tennessee, and then selling their lot on Florida. Reviewing the age of the home prior to being relocated, it was determined to have been built in 1921. Making it a Century Home for the upcoming New Year.

The original owners, Clifford & Nina Livingston, were married in 1906 and moved from St. Petersburg to Lakeland by 1920, 

Beyond welcoming a new South Lake Morton home into the Century Home Project, we have discovered that a home long thought to have been lost to time for the Dixieland neighborhood instead remains in use and loved. Happy New Year, and looking forward to more Century Homes in 2021!

moving into their new home with sons Delbert (13) and Clifford Jr (12) in 1921. Clifford was a conductor by this time for the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) Railroad. They lived in the home (1303 Florida Ave. S. before the street numbers were recalibrated) for several years, but then the house went through a quick series of three owners over the next decade. By 1940 the Strickland family moved in and that family remained in the home for over fifty years. After that, the house was held by Donnelly & Donnelly Company for several years before being purchased by the current homeowners, who have remained in the house for over two decades. The Williams’ are the seventh owners of the house and between them and the Strickland’s they represent seventy percent of this Century Home’s history!

Thanks to Kim Williams for this exciting and very interesting opportunity to rediscover a little of our neighborhood’s history.

822 W Patterson Street

This grand home was once a fishing cottage according to its current owner. The story goes that this home was built in the 1880’s by Henry B Plant. Plant was an integral part of Florida’s history as a railroad tycoon. There is still some debate as to wether Henry Plant, his son, or someone else unrelated actually had the house built. You can find more information about Plant here.

630 W Patterson Street

In 1921 Jonas K Button and his wife Genevra built a house at 416 W Patterson St, the street numbers later changed but the house remains on the same plot of land. Mr. Button was a farmer from NY who likely had this home built as a winter retreat and retirement home. It was common at this time to advertise Dixieland properties as a sound investment coming with orange trees already on the lot. It’s easy to see in a 1925 areal view of Dixieland, that Jonas had several orange trees in the back yard. He and his wife would spend winters here and return to NY for the summers. In 1939 after 44 years of marriage, Genevra died in an automobile accident in NY. After her death, Jonas began living in Dixieland full time until his death in 1945.

It is believed the home was originally a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom with a one car garage, the Buttons never had any children. Since its construction, an additional bedroom was added in the rear in the early 1950s and the garage was converted to an additional bedroom and bathroom. At some point the original front porch was removed and a larger porch was installed. In 2020 the exterior of the home was lovingly restored to remove the vinyl siding that had covered the southern yellow pine siding and new skirting to replicate what may have been originally on the home was installed. While some elements of the home have changed over time, the historic charm of this bungalow has been largely preserved. The current owners, the Hagerman family, love their home and intend to see it preserved for many years to come. 

Jonas Button- 1st owner of 630 W Patterson St