Sutherland and its College
by Dr. D. B. Sweat

    The attention of Florida people and particularly those of the Methodist faith has been attracted to this spot for several months past, for the Florida Seminary, an institution that has opened with the brightest prospects, has been established here.
   Newspaper readers are probably familiar with the location of the place. They recall the fact that it is on the Atlantic Coast Line railroad, between St. Petersburg and Jacksonville and that it is on the Gulf of Mexico, only the beautiful Clearwater Harbor lying in between the collage property and the Gulf.
   But, it is doubted if one person in a hundred is conversant with the true history of the town and the school. There are some interesting points of history back of the transfer of this valuable property to the Methodist Conference of our state.


   The town of Sutherland was laid out in 1877 by a syndicate of wealthy capitalists from the west, a majority of whom were residents of Omaha, Neb. The land company was incorporated under the name of The Sutherland Land and Improvement Company, of Omaha and Lincoln, Neb. About 1000 acres of high pine land is embraced in the original town site.
The San Marino and Gulf View Hotel Company of Lincoln, Neb. Was also organized for the purpose of erecting a large hotel.
   Two hotels were built and opened for business, but it seems neither of them ever proved to be profitable. The people who built and conducted the hotels were Christian Scientists and the intention was to make this the headquarters for that organization in the state.


   As time passed on the Christian Scientist movement began to dwindle in this section, the hotels failed to draw the tourists from the blizzard-swept north and the valuable property was practically abandoned.
   The Methodist people conceived the idea of acquiring this property and converting it into a collage for the young men and young women of the State and negotiations were entered into looking to that end.
   The property, which had cost more than $100,000, was offered to the Methodist people for a little more than $6,000 and they were not long in accepting the offer.
   Nearly half of the original tract of land had been sold off, but the church bought over 500 acres, including the two hotels, which, fortunately, had been built so that they could be utilized for collage purposes with very few, if any, changes or alterations. So there was but little to do in order to open up one of the most prosperous schools in the State as soon as the titles had been executed.


   A brief glance at the magnificent building here and will prove interesting, especially to those who have never had the opportunity of visiting the place and seeing the improvements.
   The largest building, which is said to have cost $63,000 and which was known as the Hotel San Morino, is a three-story structure, having a frontage of 280 feet toward the Gulf, with a wing in the rear 200 feet in length. It is fitted with all new conveniences: gas plant, with fixtures in every room, water works, with water piped throughout the entire building and lavatories on each floor. It is heated by steam, yet with a fire-place in each and every room for ventilation. It has 150 rooms, with fire escapes to every floor.There are not the ordinary fire-escapes, either, but stairs in each end and in the middle of the building.
   The girls’ dormitory is in the main building, where reside President S. W. Walker and his wife and the girls are in charge of a refined Christian matron. This position is filled by Mrs. Wyatt.
   The building formerly known as the Gulf View hotel and nearer the bay than the main college building, is occupied by the boys and is in charge of Prof. W. B. Greer, vice president of the college, who, with his wife, will occupy quarters in the dormitory. There are 40 rooms in this building.


   The school made a most excellent beginning last term. There were over 200 students enrolled and it is confidently expected it will be greatly increased the coming term, which opens September 24.
   There is a bright future for the town of Sutherland, for the excellent school located there will induce settlers who desire to take advantage of the splendid opportunity to educate their sons and daughters.
   The town is ideally situated in a beautiful forest of stately pines and the conference has sold off a number of building lots to desirable settlers and several cottage homes are being erected. The sale of lots is almost if not quite, paid for the property.
   Eight large building lots have been set apart as a location on which to build a church and parsonage and these will be built in the future. In the meantime regular services are held here by the pastor of the Sutherland circuit, Rev. Mr. Barnett. Mr. Barnett is a son of Dr. R. H. Barnett who was presiding elder of the Bartow district when the young man who serves the Sutherland church was only three years of age.


   The board of trustees of the Seminary have decided to construct, right away, a brick building, to be used as a hall, auditorium and for recitation rooms.
   The original survey and plat of the town made in 1888 shows that the streets run from First to Twenty-first, extending from the bay to beyond the main building. The cross avenues are named for various states, as follows: Kansas, Missouri, Delaware, New York, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Nebraska, Florida, Georgia, Michigan,  Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio.
   During the summer vacation Rev. R. M. Evans and his excellent wife have charge of the boys dormitory and have converted the town of Sutherland into a popular southern resort. They have advertised cheap rates of board and during the heated term a number of our people from the interior towns of the state will take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a quiet and rest here. The bathing is very good, both in the salt and in the health-giving lithia spring about two miles away.
   Among those here now are a jolly party of 12 or 15 from Bartow, with the prospect of others coming in soon. When all the Bartowites get in there will be nearly a party of  20 in the crowd from the capital of Polk. 

Source: Tampa Tribune: 8-2-1903

Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers

This Page Created June 7, 2013
Copyrighted 2013- Linda Flowers
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