Sunken Gardens Has a Flowery Previous

Vintage postcard of Sunken Gardens
A postcard of the 1940s entrance of the Sunken Gardens, exhibiting the building that will be the new history centre.

This summertime, people to Sunken Gardens will see a thing new at the classic St. Pete attraction. Or rather, anything old: A new Heritage Centre, devoted to telling the tale of the 110-12 months-aged internet site, will open up in the restored building that at the time served as the park’s entrance. Inside, an show will function historic pictures and documents, dwelling films, and interviews with the spouse and children of George Turner, who purchased the land in 1911 and, in excess of 3 generations, remodeled a shallow pond and sinkhole into a residing work of artwork.  

“We’re discovering so much about the home that we did not know prior to,” Jennifer Tyson, the center’s Schooling Coordinator, claims. She’s overseen the rework of the 440 square foot space and worked with volunteer archivists, which includes Turner’s granddaughter, to accumulate, catalog, and digitize historical resources. 

Close up of archway with the words "Turner's Sunken Gardens" painted across.
The unique 1940 entrance signage, uncovered all through this restoration.
via Sunken Gardens Archives

Some of their most effective finds so far: the original lettering for “Turner’s Sunken Gardens,” viewed on aged postcards of the website and located intact, layered less than on the building’s facade, and the multicolored “crazy” sample that graces so numerous of the garden’s sidewalks emblazoned on the initial cement flooring. 

“They did most of this things them selves,” Tyson says. “We see it in these outdated photographs, hear it in these outdated tales. They beloved making and making with their own arms.”

  And of class, they also cherished vegetation. An additional revelation arrived through the enjoy letters involving George and his spouse, Eula, where goals of marital bliss combined with visions of the earthly paradise they would create collectively. 

“Their letters will say factors like, ‘I just cannot wait until finally we go and choose out trees for our grove’,” suggests Tyson. The exhibit highlights Eula’s function constructing the attraction. “She was undertaking programming, organizing tours, welcoming garden golf equipment. She was infamous for clipping bouquets from the gardens to give to friends and acquire to gatherings.”

The exhibit also showcases the community’s position in supporting Sunken Gardens, particularly in 1999 when St. Pete inhabitants agreed to a tax boost to aid the Town of St. Petersburg purchase the attraction and preserve it. 

“This area was nearly a condominium!” exclaims Tyson, sweeping her hand previous a verdant wall of royal palm and bougainvillea. “A essential information I want people to take absent with them is that it will take neighborhood involvement to preserve a position like this.”

Cash for the 1940s-era entrance restoration, historic exhibits, plaza seating and an orchid arbor arrived from Florida’s Division of Historic Resources, the Metropolis of St. Petersburg, Penny for Pinellas and the Sunken Gardens Permanently Foundation. 

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