Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Military uniform collection could find home in historic Zephyrhills house

ZEPHYRHILLS — Turning the Capt. Jeffries house into a showcase for military history could be a great start to creating a tourism niche for the city, Mayor Danny Burgess believes.

"Dade City has antiques," said Burgess. "Our heritage really is in our military roots."

The city already has the restored World War II barracks museum, filled with artifacts from area veterans.

Army fighter pilots trained at what was known then as the Zephyrhills Army Airfield in the early 1940s; the airfield was donated to the city after the war.

Now the city has an opportunity to build on that history by partnering with Ron and Lila Bushaw, a Plant City couple who have been collecting World War II uniforms and memorabilia for 15 years.

Burgess invited the Bushaws to last week's City Council meeting to talk about their collection, which includes 380 uniforms representing every American unit that fought in the war, along with numerous allied units.

One uniform Bushaw displayed at the meeting belonged to a paratrooper who jumped on D-day and was in the Battle of the Bulge with Easy Company of the 506th Division. The nameless soldier earned the Silver Star, the military's third-highest award for combat heroism.

"He lives in eternity," said Bushaw. "But this is typical of the uniforms in our collection. More than half are from those who earned the Silver Star."

Bushaw said he has been able to match names to about 35 percent of the uniforms. He has identifying serial numbers for roughly 95 percent, though, and now that he's retired, plans to find as many names as possible.

The Bushaws have participated in a few veteran events with displays of their uniforms but are looking for a permanent place to display the collection.

Burgess thinks the Jeffries house is just the place.

The house, bank-owned and vacant for the past two years, is falling into disrepair. Built around 1910 for the city's founder, civil war veteran Capt. Howard B. Jeffries, it claimed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Worried the house could be lost, Burgess brought the idea of buying it to the city's community redevelopment agency in June. The agency, comprised of City Council members, agreed to look into the possibility. The council last month moved forward with getting an appraisal on the property and is waiting for a report from a historical architect.

Council members were impressed with the presentation.

"We're rapidly losing our World War II heroes," said council member Charlie Proctor, who mentioned his father's WWII service. "I'm behind something like this."

Council President Lance Smith thanked the couple, but cautioned no decision has been made on whether to buy the house. If the city does purchase it, it may be required by law to seek proposals from others interested in leasing the house.

Military uniform collection could find home in historic Zephyrhills house 09/03/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.