When Elvis Came to Town

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Citrus County Historical Society

National Register of Historic Places Designation

Historic homes, from the boom period and before, comprise the properties in the only National Historic District located within Citrus County. The historic oaks along Orange Avenue form the basis for the District and outline its boundaries. The eighteen properties were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 1, 1993. Some of these homes and other historic buildings are showcased on the first Saturday of December when the doors are opened annually for the Blue Banner of Historic Homes.

This event occurs during the Floral City Heritage Days, an educational/historical program, always held on Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon during the first weekend of December. Another event that has roots in the past is the annual Floral City Strawberry Festival held the first weekend of March at the well laid out Floral City Park located two miles south of the traffic light. Ferris Farms supports the event presented by the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce with hundreds of flats of strawberries grown...where else... but on the one-time citrus groves of John Paul Formy Duval's on Duval Island.

Here in Floral City during the early 1920, as throughout the state, prospective land developers came. When he bought much of Duval Island, Jim Ferris, nephew of George Washington Gales Ferris inventor of the Ferris Wheel, came with a plan to establish a grand golf course and suitable housing. The Great Depression ended those dreams, but his son, L.C. Ferris, known to all as "Doc" Ferris, was successful in his venture. He planted hundreds of acres of citrus trees.

Ferris Groves continued to be successful even after "Doc's" death. Then before the last devastating freeze in 1986-87, (almost 100 years after the first Big Freeze), it was sold and renamed Ferris Farms. Today, it is one of the state's leading strawberry producers.

In the blink of an eye, one could miss an interesting cottage industry that thrives today in Floral City. At the end of Levy Lane, scarce seen from Orange Avenue between two buildings is a house off the Avenue, but within the National Historic District. The industry that it contains is that of bentwood lawn furniture making. The skill has been passed on from generation to generation and the finished chairs and benches are shipped by the semi-truck loads to as far away as Washington State.

Floral City survived the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War years much the same way similar rural villages did, by growing their own food and making their own clothing. Picking the moss that grows in abundance from the oak trees, drying and selling it for furniture stuffing helped many a family through those rough times. The practice is still carried on to this day in a limited manner. However, now the moss is sent north for use in the floral design industry.