Amelia Petzold Meres
who became known as “Mother Meres,” came to Tarpon
in 1882. She and her
husband Walter ran the Ferns Hotel and transformed their
into a lush
Amelia was born in Germany in 1845. She immigrated to the United States with her family when she was only five years old. She was a trained florist and an avid gardener. The local community benefited from her enthusiastic approach to improving her surroundings, while the patrons of the hotel feasted on the fresh fruit and vegetables grown by Amelia along with honey from carefully attended beehives. Through the years Amelia’s garden became a more lush tropical setting and after her death the city of Tarpon Springs turned the property into a city park.
Amelia became known as Mother Meres as she went through each day puttering around her garden attending to the guests of the hotel and seeing to the needs of the community in general. Her love of plants flowed over into the community as she tended to the sick, bringing them flowers from her garden and providing fresh flowers for parties and other public events. Everyone benefited from Amelia’s most generous and giving nature. Anyone that spends time tending to plants or just spends time with nature will tell you how close you feel with the universe.
Today as Tarpon Springs is going about with the street scapping , one has to remember it was Mother Meres who first planted trees along the streets of Tarpon Springs so long ago and she is credited with planting cycades along with some others of the community at the cemetery from which Cycadia Cemetery was named. A large Kapok Tree stands along McMullen Booth Road that grew from a seed Amelia provided. The legendary Kapok Tree Inn has since been demolished, but the grand old tree still stands and is thriving in its appearance.
Two years after her death on October 20, 1923 at the age of seventy-eight the city transferred Amelia’s into a public gathering place. They placed a tall floral urn in the area engraved with her name as a tribute. It remains today standing proudly at the south-east corner of Tarpon and Pinellas Avenues.The seventeen foot tall and twenty-two foot wide mural that graces the west side of the Meres Building looms in the background, placed there by the Garden Fairies, a group of artistic gardeners.
Petzold Meres Headstone
Cycadia Cemetery...Tarpon Springs, FL
|Amelia's Headstone...Second From Right|