Pinellas historians mourn the loss of Deer Hall

Deer Hall, the two-story 1890s house on Virginia Street in Dunedin, had been dilapidated for years. There were holes in the ceiling and trash packed the empty rooms. Now it’s gone.

Dunedin Historical Society

Deer Hall, the two-story 1890s house on Virginia Street in Dunedin, had been dilapidated for years. There were holes in the ceiling and trash packed the empty rooms. Now it’s gone.

Re: It stood tall for long haul story, June 8

Historians feel loss of Deer Hall

The members, volunteers and staff of the North Pinellas Historical Museum mourn the loss of Deer Hall, the centenarian homestead of the pioneer family the Nigelses: Arthur, Agatha and their five children.

The Victorian structure in Dunedin, which served as the family's sanctuary through storms, heat, drought and Depression, held fond memories for our own founding director of the Judge Hartley House Museum, Winona Jones of Palm Harbor.

Granddaughter to Mr. and Mrs. Nigels, Mrs. Jones, who grew up in North Pinellas, remembers Deer Hall as it was: a home to neighbors when neighbors were few and far between and Pinellas was merely a place on the frontier of west Florida that "smelled of orange blossoms from one end to the other."

We knew the end was imminent. Nothing to be done. It is progress of sorts, but while the Belleview Biltmore Hotel raises our expectations of preservation, for those of us who experienced Deer Hall or were witness to its place in our county's history, the destruction of the historic pioneer home is disheartening.

In the mid 1980s, I had the opportunity to be a part of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer's Small Museum Development Group in Baltimore at a time when the Babe Ruth birthplace was being restored. The simple two-story row house at 216 Emory St. stands now as a museum, home to Ruth's legacy as well as a popular tourist destination and a key component of the ongoing and hugely successful urban, mixed-use redevelopment project surrounding Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Today in Pinellas County, thanks to initiatives such as the Historic Preservation Task Force chaired by county Commissioner Karen Seel and the success of living history programs like those offered by the staff and volunteers of Heritage Village under the direction of Jan Luth, county residents have the resources and the knowledge not merely to appreciate our pioneer heritage, but to preserve it.

Harry S. Truman, arguably one of the most studied historians to occupy the White House in the last century, once said, "The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know."

Harlan D. Weikle, executive director, NorthPinellas HistoricalMuseum.org, Palm Harbor

Re: It stood tall for long haul story, June 8

City should have saved lovely home

I read this story about a house in Dunedin that was torn down. If I was born in that house, I would be angry. No! I'd be furious.

I feel bad for the people in the Nigels family and the people of Dunedin. I think that the city of Dunedin should have stepped in and called it a historical structure because it was old and lovely.

Please don't tear down more pretty, historical buildings.

Lauren Wonicker-Cook, age 9, Palm Harbor

Re: Dearly beloved: Here lies 'our pal' | story and photos, June 10

Pet cemetery deserves respect

Many years ago we buried our beloved 17-year-old Pekingese, Toodles, at the Green Mounds Pet Cemetery in Largo, and now we read that the current owner, Fletcher's Harley-Davidson, is moving and wants to donate the property to the city.

If this transaction goes through, we pet lovers wonder what will happen to the remains of our loved ones and the markers we purchased. Hopefully, the city would keep the cemetery as is.

We always attended the yearly Christmas parties given by former owners Dale and Susie Potts. Being with other grieving owners and sharing stories of our loved ones was great.

Pets are special. They don't care about the color of your skin, whether you are rich or poor, fat or lean. They give us much love and comfort.

John Costello, Dunedin

Pinellas historians mourn the loss of Deer Hall 06/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 11:01am]

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