The History of Dunedin, Florida “Delightful” Dunedin’s village-like atmosphere and a relaxed lifestyle has lured people for decades from around the world. Enjoying the natural wooded and subtropical setting and close to four miles of picturesque waterfront, Dunedin sits on central Florida’s west coast, in the heart of Pinellas County’s Suncoast. It is also one of the few open waterfront communities from Sarasota to Cedar Key where buildings do not obscure the view.
It may be the world’s healthiest climate and the year-round outdoor fun that brings visitors to Dunedin, but it is Dunedin’s village quaintness coupled with its progressive vision and masterful planning that keeps them here. It is not surprising that many seasonal visitors elect to stay once they discover Dunedin is without the trappings and congestion of most Florida resort towns.
Dunedin reflects the rich American and Scottish heritage of its founding fathers. This charming village-like town has the distinction of being the oldest town south of Cedar Key. Early in its history, thanks to a dock built to accommodate schooners and sloops and the ingenuity of pioneers from as near as Georgia and as far as Scotland, Dunedin became one of Florida’s chief seaport and trading centers. At one time Dunedin had the largest fleet of sailing vessels in Florida. Early settlers were primarily cotton and citrus growers, and it is hard to envision that most of what is now downtown was once a big cotton field!
The first land deed was recorded in 1852 by Richard L. Garrison, only seven years after Florida became a state. Although it was George L. Jones who put up a sign over his General Store in 1870 that read “Jonesboro,” a petition in 1882 by two Scottish merchants, J.0. Douglas and James Somerville, officially named the Post Office, then the town itself, Dunedin. The town became incorporated in 1899.
Dunedin is proud of its “firsts” which are chronicled in Dunedin Through the Years by William L. Davidson. The amphibious tractor, the Alligator, assembled in Dunedin and used in World War II, played a decisive role in the Pacific phase of the war. Frozen orange juice concentrate, and the “Pram” sailboat racer both originated here. Dunedin was the first home of the prestigious PGA (Professional Golfers Association). The first radio signals from Pinellas County were sent from Dunedin. The oldest continuous garden club on Florida’s west coast is the Dunedin Garden Club.
The historic Orange Belt Railroad Depot on Main Street is home to the Dunedin Historical Society and Museum. The Society has designed a walking tour of historic sites and works hard to collect area artifacts and preserve buildings that are pertinent to Dunedin’s past. Through their efforts, the Douglas home and Andrews Memorial Chapel have been put on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Dunedin’s quality of life is linked to its appreciation of its diverse and colorful past, and to the country that helped shape its future, Scotland. In commemoration of its ancestral ties Dunedin has chosen Stirling, Scotland, and Summerside, Prince Edward Island as its sister cities.
Posted on September 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm by Ed Karlander