The Hacienda Hotel, on Main Street, is a 55-room Spanish-style luxury hotel completed in 1927 by George J. Becker and Warren E. Burns. Silent screen stars Thomas Meighan & Gloria Swanson, and local promoter George Sims owned the hotel, and Meighan's brother provided the land. They intended to attract the west coast motion picture industry to Florida. In fact, several silent films were produced in the rural area, and several actors built mansions along the nearby Pithlachascottee River. Screen star Ed Wynn served as master of ceremonies at the hotel's grand opening, attended by other Hollywood luminaries such as Lupe Valez, Ann Hardking, Meighan and Swanson.
The Meighan Theatre, on Grand Boulevard, was built in 1925 by the Richey Amusement Company at a cost of $50,000. With over 300 seats, it opened in 1926 with the silent film "The New Klondike," accompanied by a piano player. Sound was added in 1930 soon after the invention of sound films. Actor Thomas Meighan died in 1936, and the theatre's name was changed to The Cinema and The Vogue. Now the Richey Suncoast Theatre, the historic building with its elaborate entrance arch and golden dome, serves the community as a stage production venue.
Sims Park (Bank Street & Circle Boulevlard), originally called Enchantment Park, honored George R. Sims, an early developer of New Port Richey who donated the land and clubhouse. Relocating to the area in 1922 from Greck Neck, New York, he purchased impoverished property during the 1925-26 land boom. His wife, Marjorie, earned the first title of the 1922 Chasco Fiesta Queen in the first annual Chasco Fiesta, a fundraising event linked to a legend honoring Native Americans who once inhabited the area.
Erected in 1916 as the first brick building in the area, the Sims Land Office on Main Street was once adjacent to the railroad depot. Its brick had been salvaged from the northern town of Fivay, now Bayonet Point.
Orange Lake, once called Mirror Lake, girded by Circle Boulevard in the heart of downtown, was a source of concern to early settlers. In the 1800s, it was called "Blue Sink," and was nestled in a jungle of hickory hammock. The lake allegedly reached a depth of 250 feet, and farmer's lost cattle and hogs that disappeared or fell prey to the alligators that inhabited the lake and surrounding swamp. It is now a picturesque setting for relaxation and serves as the venue for special events such as art shows, antique car shows, and Winter Holiday celebrations.
Gene Sarazan, a 1920s golf professional, relocated to the area and established a golf course in the downtown area.
In 1926, composer Irving Berlin owned property in the area adjacent to land owned by Paul Whiteman, the era's "King of Jazz."
Comedian Ed Wynn wrote a successful Broadway musical, "The Perfect Fool," while fishing in the Pithlacascotee River. He also owned the Palms Theatre on Main Street. Built in 1921, it offered silent film entertainment to the area for a price of 25 cents for an adult admission.
Harry Miller and William Zimmer of Paramount Pictures visited the area in 1933 seeking a location of a feature length motion picture. Nathan H. Gordon and Jesse L. Lasky, the production manager of Paramount Lasky Corporation, expressed wishes to join screen star Thomas Meighan in creating a colossal motion picture studio in the area. The Great Depression of the early 1930s brought this dream to an end.
Motion picture director Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho & The Birds) visited the area in the early 1930s and stayed in a bungalow on Grand Boulevard.
Raymond Hitchock, a theatrical comedian, and his wife, Flora Zabelle, a prominent actress, and Earl Benham, a songwriter from New York, invested in property in New Port Richey in the 1920s.
Jasmine Point, on North River Road, was the first luxuary subdivision in New Port Richey in the 1920s. Thomas Meighan's two-story Spanish mansion boasted thirteen rooms, six baths, and an enormous swimming pool containing 65,000 gallons of water.
Moon Lake Dude Ranch & Gardens, developed by bootlegger Ed Haley during the Prohibition Era, hosted the Vanderbilts, and actresses Lillian and Dorothy Gish and Lana Turner. Called "The Playground of Millionaires," the rustic lodge was finished in natural cypress and offered two bedroom cabins. Flocks of peacocks strutted on the front yard. The lodge also boasted stables with purebred horses for guests with a mile track for trotting races. Haley installed a ten mile road and telephone lines to accommodate his affluent guests from the entertainment industry. A staff of one hundred fifty supplied excellent service and continental cuisine. A casino was constructed next to the lodge, complete with slot machines. Its dance floor was the largest in the South and dominated the Colosseum in nearby St. Petersburg.
The Pithlachascotee River flows through the downtown area on its way to the Gulf.
There were 7,231 households out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.0% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.2% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.1% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 28.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,881, and the median income for a family was $32,172. Males had a median income of $25,318 versus $20,501 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,644. About 12.3% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.2% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
The original Gulf High School on Grand Boulevard was completed in 1922, and its north wing added four years later. Generally grades 7-12 were taught at the school, and graduating classes of the 1930s and 1940s averaged about fifteen students. To accommodate the growing student population, Gulf High was renamed Gulf Comprehensive High School and relocated to a new structure on Louisiana Boulevard in 1962. It subsequently relocated to a larger facility on Madison Street in 1974. Booker T. Washington School in the Pine Hill area was designated for African-American children until the community's schools were integrated in 1967.
Once the city's only elementary school, Pierce Elementary, was completed in 1926 and named for Porter Lamar Pierce, who arrived in nearby Elfers in 1913. It replaced a wooden structure on the same sight. This brick school house on Main Street was used for many years as City Hall and now serves as the New Port Richey Library.
Pierce's daughter, Mittye P. Locke, served as principal of Elfers Elementary School, opened in 1966 on Evans Road at Troublecreek Road; in later years, the school was renamed after her. The original Elfers Elementary School (1914) became a Head Start Center for preschool children and is now a senior center.
An area of development within New Port Richey's postal zone is Trinity, in the 34655 zip code zone. This area is not in the city limits of New Port Richey.
The 3,685 acres that make up Trinity are being developed by Adam Smith Enterprises, Inc. (ASE). ASE is one of several companies operating under the management guidance of Jireh, Inc. The founder of Jireh is Dr. James P. Gills, a Tarpon Springs ophthalmologist who is also the founder of one of the largest and most comprehensive outpatient eye surgery practices in the world, St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute, also in Tarpon Springs.
Subdivisions include River Crossing, Hunter's Ridge, Southern Oaks, Aristida, Trinity Oaks, Fox Wood at Trinity, Champion's Club, Fox Hollow, and Heritage Springs.
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (June 20, 1906 – June 14, 2000) was a golf course architect who designed (or re-designed) about 500 golf courses in at least 40 US states and 35 other countries all around the world. Jones designed Trinity's golf course located between Fox Wood and Champion's Club. It has been jokingly said that, "The sun never sets on a Robert Trent Jones golf course."
Woodland wonder: the Sabals Townhomes, New Port Richey, Fla.(old and young professionals prefer this house)(Brief Article)
Oct 01, 2005; WHY IT WORKED: This high-growth area outside Tampa, Fla., was ripe for a luxury townhome project, especially one that offered...