PALMETTO (Florida)


PALMETTO, the town located on the northern bank of the Manatee River, opposite Bradenton, was once the larger city of the region. Its first notable pioneer settler was Samuel Sparks Lamb who came from South Carolina ("the Palmetto State") and gave the village his name.

In 1871 Joel Hendrix obtained six acres and built the area's first general store and river dock. The region boomed in the 1870's by farmers from North Florida and the city was incorporated by 1889.
The most historic areas to visit today include the waterfront west of downtown and 10th Avenue West, which was the original main street until the bridge over the river was shifted to 12th Avenue.

At 1000 Riverside Drive, site now of the Regatta Point Condo, Madame Joe Atzeroth and Sam Sparks Lamb constructed the first cabins. At 1102 Riverside Drive, is the delightful FIVE OAKS INN (1913), the Sears Roebuck home of Sam's son Julius Lamb. It is now a neat bed and breakfast place along the Manatee River.

Downtown are many interesting structures, including the 1880 POST OFFICE and the 1890 SCHOOL HOUSE, located near the CARNEGIE LIBRARY (1915) at 525 10th Avenue West. The library is being developed as a local historical museum.
There are several other noteworthy structures within one block: the 1912 PALMETTO STATE BANK BUILDING, at 449 10th Avenue West, and the 1912 OLYMPIA THEATER across the street.

OTHER STRUCTURES TO SEE: At 101 12th Avenue West is the JAMES A. HOWZE HOUSE (1885), started by pioneer shopkeeper and Confederate Captain from the Alabama 32nd Regiment. The MACAJAH (MACK) O. HARRISON HOUSE (1899) at 330 12th Avenue West, was owned by the Florida Senator and fruit ship pioneer for many years.


Listing by Palmetto Riverwalk Walk Society and the Palmetto Historical Society:


Manatee River and Riverfront, 985, Riverside Dr.

The waterfront and the Manatee River have always played an important part in the history of Palmetto. To the pioneers, the river was like our interstate highways of today. To go shopping or visiting, you got into your sailboat, rowboat or later on a steamboat and off you went. Mail, supplies and newcomers arrived by boat and produce and citrus were shipped in that manner, as well. There have been one landing and four main docks in the history of Palmetto. The first landing place was located where the railroad bridge crosses the river today. Simon Turman, a native in Ohio, who arrived in the Manatee area in 1843, built it. Turman filed for a land grant of 160 acres under the Armed Occupation Act and chose his parcel five miles up from the mouth of the Manatee River on the north side of the river. Measured by today’s landmark, his property extended from 8th Avenue eastward to US 301/41. To receive expected ship traffic and imported goods, Turman constructed a crude cabbage crib in deeper water, which became known as Turman’s Landing. No dock connected the crib with the mainland and everything that was unloaded had to be rafted to shore. Turman only remained in the Manatee are for 2 years before moving to Tampa, but the landing bore his name and served the Palmetto community until Joel Hendrix built a dock at the end of 9th Avenue in 1874. Hendrix came to Palmetto in 1871 and his wife, Martha Ann, paid S.S. Lamb $100 for six acres. Three years later, after building a house, establishing a general store on the property, and repaying his wife the $100, Hendrix built a dock so that he would not have to ferry supplies from the landing to the shore. At one time, the Palmetto Terminal Railroad, a narrow gauge railroad ran from the end of the dock two miles to Memphis. Plans were that the line would run to Parrish, a total of 12 miles of track. However, the rest of the track was never completed and the railroad lasted only a year. A third dock, a public dock, was built here at the end of 10th Avenue or Main Street in 1896. It was called the Palmetto Wharf. The two other docks were the Atzeroth Dock and the Ogden Point dock, which you will see further along the walk, up the Riverview Drive.

Atzeroth Store Site, Lamb School & Julius Lamb House, 1102 Riverside Dr.
1913 – This house was built by Julius A. Lamb, eldest son of S.S. Lamb in 1913 on the site of the log cabin that housed the Atzerboth Store and the Lamb School. Julius was a 9 when he drove the barouch, which transported his mother and 5 sisters, from Mississippi to Palmetto. This house was a Sears & Robuck House ordered from a catalog and came complete and ready to put together. Julius was a successful businessman, owning a real estate company, Guarantee Abstract Company and Vice President of Manatee County State bank, which his father helped establish in 1899. He also established the first livery stable. Currently the Palmetto House, a bed and breakfast, is in operation here.

J. A. Lamb and J. Pope Harllee House, 1112 Riverside Dr.
1899 – This house was built by J.A. Lamb, purchased by J. Pope Harllee, son of Peter and Alice, some of Palmetto’s first settlers, in 1920’s. J. Pope Harlee came a farmer in 1906 with land his parents gave him. He formed Harllee Farms in partnership with his two sons’ n 1935, still in operations today. Mr. J. Pope Harllee served as Mayor of Palmetto in 1928 and served on Manatee County Board of County Commissioners for 25 years. He was Manatee County’s first distinguished Citizen in 1956.

Site of Boardwalk from 12th Ave. to 13th Ave. along River
1903 - The Howze Family built a dock near 13th Avenue in 1903. There were several packinghouses on the dock and on the shore near it. A boardwalk ran from this site to the dock along the edge of the river. Also in this area was Palmetto’s first jail. It was a wooden building set out in the water. A prisoner escaped from in one time by setting his mattress on fire and burning a hole in the wall and escaping into the water.

Howze Homestead, 101 12th Avenue W.
1885 – James Howze came to Manatee County in 1885 from Alabama. He was a Captain in the 32nd Regiment of Confederate Army. He opened a store west of S. S. Lamb’s on the river. In August on 1888, a salesman from Tampa arrived on a steamer and went to call on Howze. The man was ill and Howze took him to his uncle’s Dr. Alston’s house. That afternoon when the steamer made its return trip the man left. Word cam later he had died of Yellow Fever. A few days later, Mrs. Howze and her children came down with the “fever”. Mrs. Howze died, but her children survived. She was the first of many victims of yellow fever. In 1889 Howze married Miss Frankie McKay, who arrived in Palmetto to teach school in the newly constructed frame schoolhouse.

Stuart Howze House, 325 12th Avenue W.
1929 – This bungalow was built by Stuart a farmer and bookkeeper who later opened Howze Grocery Store .

Macajah (Mack) O. Harrison House, 330 12th Avenue W.
1900 – Mack came to Palmetto with his family in 1891 from Alachua County. His father Wade Hampton Harrison loaded his wife and 4 sons into a covered wagon and with his two older boys herded their cattle. Wade became a large cattle owner, but son Mack preferred city life and built this house for his new wife Evelyn in 1903. Mack was a fruit packer and shipper and later served in the Senate.

Frankie Howze House site, 329 12th Avenue W.
1900 – After her husbands death in 1897, Frankie moved her family here. She continued to teach school, becoming a principal of the primary school for 67 years until she retired in 1940. The original building has been replaced but the plantings are hers.

Julien Howze House, 344 12th Avenue W.
1887 – The first known occupants are the Whittles who came from Georgia in 1911. Mr. Whittle opened and operated a plumbing company until he built a store in 1927 when the Green Bridge was opened on 8th Avenue. In 1939 Julien Howze, son of Frankie and James purchased the home.

Walk east on 4th Street W.
Walter E. Parrish Home, 1118 4th Street W.
1900 – James Parrish came to Palmetto in 1885 from Texas, opening the towns 3rd store, competing with S. S. Lamb. In 1894 his son Walter married Nellie Lamb, duaghter of S. S. Lamb and lived in this house with their three children.

Mary Richards Home, 1117 4th Street W.
1910 –Daniel Richards fought in the Civil War, coming to Manatee county with his brother Tuck. Daniel married Nancy Gillett, who died giving birth to her 4th child in 1877. Daniel then married Mary Emma Lamb, daughter of S.S. Lamb. Mary had 6 more children until Daniel died in 1893 and was buried beside his first wife. It is interesting to note Mary is listed in the 1895 census as head of household with 9 children ranging from 24 to 2 years. Mary purchased this house sometime between 1918 and 1921.

James T. DeSear Home, 1111 4th Street W.
1917 – This home was built prior to 1917, as it is shown on Sanborn maps. Probably built in 1912 when the property was deeded from Mary Richards to James DeSear, who married Mary’s daughter. James was a farmer of 40 acres in Gillette after moving from Alabama in 1903 with his family. He moved into town in 1918 with his wife.

Robert Thomas House, 1105 4th Street W.
1900 – Built in 1900, housing many different occupants in the 1920s until R.E. Thomas moved in 1929. Thomas owned a gas station in town.

Cross 11th Avenue W.
Palmetto First United Methodist Church, 1035 4th Street W.
1924 – No records to indicate when the church was organized. The first pastor of record was Thomas branch in 1882. The 1884 church register shows 28 members. In the next 5 years membership increased by 137 from new arrivals into town. The church was built on a lot donated by Mrs. S. S. Lamb costing $30,000 to build. The Ladies Aid Society raised the $250 to pay for the stained glass windows.

Cross 4th Street
Palmetto First Baptist Church, 436 11th Avenue W.
1892 – Organized Jan. 5, 1892 with 22 chartered members, 18 of which transferred from the Benevolence Baptist Church located on Frog Creek, several miles north of Ellenton. Originally a wooden structure, the brick church was completed in 1926, which has since been replaced by a new larger brick church.

Dr. M.B. Harrison Home, 427 11th Avenue W.
1890 – Though he did not build this house, Dr. Harrision bought it in 1890 and lived here until his death. He was the first doctor on the north side of the Manatee River and President of the first Palmetto City Council. He moved from Parrish to Palmetto following the Yellow Fever epidemic. While in Parrish he served in the State Legislature. Dr. Harrison died after a buggy accident in 1912.

Optional trip to cemetery
To view cemetery, which received many of its residents during the Yellow Fever epidemic you walk down to 5th Street w to corner 14th Avenue W. This cemetery is open to the public.

North on 10th Avenue W.
Carnegie Library & Heritage Park, 525 10th Avenue W.
1915 – Benefactor Andrew Carnegie contributed $10,000 to construct the Carnegie Library, one of Florida’s first built libraries in 1915. The City of Palmetto, received a donation by S. S. Lamb of $1000 and land which made the library possible. The Carnegie Library served as town city hall, school library and a meeting place for many civic organizations for many years. The park is located on the site of Palmettos first school, Palmetto Academy, which was built in 1894 with money raised by a bond. Many historical buildings can be found in Heritage Park. The park is open from __________ at no cost. You can find posted information on each of the buildings as you tour the historical park. Buildings include the School House, Cottage Museum, Heritage Chapel Heritage Post Office and Manatee County Agricultural Museum.

Lamb Park, corner of 6th Street W. and 10th Avenue. W.
The land for this park was a Christmas gift to the people of Palmetto by S. S. Lamb in December of 1909.

Olympic Theather and Palmetto Bakery, 512 10th Avenue W.
1898 – The original theater remained in operation until 1940s. The Palmetto Bakery was established in 1894 by Mrs. Elizabeth and her son James.

S.B. Black Grocery, 435 10th Avenue W.
1918 – This building house a variety of businesses. It was built as a grocery store and barber shop with businesses above.

Palmetto Fire Insurance Building, 431 – 433 10th Avenue W.
1918 – One of the first “new” brick buildings it housed the Palmetto Fire Insurance Company, as well as, the Buffalo Vegetable Marketing Firm, Lamb Willis Real estate Company and the palmetto Hardware Company.

Palmetto Hardware Building, 425 – 429 10th Avenue W.
1918 – The 1918 City Directory lists the Palmetto Hardware Store as being located here. It is constructed on the interior of cinderblocks.

Tallant & Groff Clothing store, 421 10th Avenue W.
1913 – Built to house the Palmetto branch of the Talland and Groff Clothing Store. The original store was built in Bradenton by Henry K. Tallant and Otto D. Gorff, both residents of Bradenton.

Open Air Post Office, 404 10th Avenue W.
1923 – this building once housed an open air post office designed after the one in St. Petersburg. Today it houses the Masonic Lodge.