Inverness Central Business District
The old Citrus County Courthouse, now known as the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, was constructed in 1912/13 for $55,885. The official opening was June 3, 1912. The diamond shaped road layout presented a challenge to Tampa architect Willis R. Biggers. Instead, he borrowed an idea from the Greek temple design and had the corners of the building facing NE, SE, SW, and NW. It is the only courthouse in Florida set like this. Fireplaces were used to warm the building in the winter, and the tower clock cost $800. During WW II, the tower was used to watch for enemy aircraft. Rooms were rented upstairs for $5 to $10 per month. Electricity came in 1913, and 36 electric lights were installed for $248.50. In 1946, 1500 yards of dirt was removed from underneath the building to add a storage basement. This was the main government office until 1977. The upstairs courtroom continued to be used until 1992, when the ceiling fell in during a court hearing. It has recently been remodeled to look as it did in 1912.
In 1961, the courthouse was used in scenes of the Elvis Presley movie, "Follow That Dream". In 1994, John Parks, a nationally known restoration architect who developed plans to restore George Washington's Valley Forge, was hired to plan the restore of the courthouse. The courthouse scenes from the Elvis movie were key reference points when developing the restoration plan. It took 2.5 million dollars and 7 years to complete, and today this national register site houses several galleries displaying pictures and artifacts from our county's history. Don't miss the great seal on the floor, which wrongly depicts a brave instead of a maiden.
West Main Street - North Side
114 W. Main Street, the northeast corner of downtown, is where Citizen's Bank built a financial institution around 1912; however, it failed in the late 1920's. In 2008 the building was recognized by the historic plaque program.
The next building was built in the 1920's as a department store. There were many owners through the years, but in 1947, Owen Kennedy opened his "ready to wear" store and successfully operated it until 1986. For a period of time, Kennedy's was the only store in Inverness where you could buy women's and men's clothing. Mr. Kennedy also served as postmaster, city councilman, school board member, Citrus Memorial Hospital Board, and was an original member of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, which recognized him as "man of the year". Later occupants were the Waterbed Store, C & D Gifts and then became an addition to Coach's Pub.
110 West Main, presently Stumpknockers, received a historic plaque in 2001 and is written up in our Walk of History.
108 West Main was once an open-air market operated by the Scardasis family. The 3 parcels of property were purchased by Theodore Scardasis in 1920 where they sold fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, parched peanuts and penny candy. The building was constructed in 1927 where he operated a general store. In 1933, two of the spaces were rented to GM & Edna Richburg for a restaurant. After Mr. Scardasis died in 1937, Ms. Scardasis assumed control of the restaurant naming it "Palace Café", specializing in Florida style food prepared by Elizabeth and Loretha, local cooks. The 3rd space was a bar/grill with a poolroom. John Croft came to town on Saturday evenings and sold boiled peanuts and fresh cold sugar cane juice from his truck. Air-conditioning was added to the buildings in the early 1960's. Previous businesses include Costa's Shoe Shop, Altenbergers' Shoes, Gouldbourn's Econowash, King's Bakery, First Federal Savings, Charlie's Restaurant, and now along with Angelo's Pizza, you will find a branch office of the Citrus County Chronicle.
Courthouse Square - North West
The next section includes 101, 103, & 105 Courthouse Square which Jack Reed built in the 1930's. This has housed many businesses including West Coast Title Company, Robert Ritz Real Estate, a donut shop, Mildred's Beauty Shop, and the Western Auto Store, to name a few. The Title Company invited the whole town to come and listen to a Jack Dempsey/Gene Tunney boxing match on the radio - a big event since there were very few radios in the area at that time. Now you can visit Inverness Antiques, Courthouse Antiques, Jagged Edge, and Ritzy Rags & Glitzy Jewels in this section.
107 Courthouse Square was known as the Dampier Building and was recognized by the historic plaque program, as was 109 Courthouse Square.
115 Courthouse Square was the Citizens Loan Company in the late 1940's, owned and operated by Bill Keating. He was the driving force behind the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce and became its first president. Over the years, The Magic Brush, House of Beauty Salons, Gibbs Insurance Agency and Gill's Auctioneering have occupied this building. Now, the current business is Budget Insurance.
The building located at 107 & 109 N. Apopka Avenue appears to have been built in the early 1920's. Until 1953, it was operated as Carl Bellamy's Dry Cleaners, and then in 1936, Snell & Louise Mills operated Sunshine Cleaners, where they offered curb service and daily home delivery. A wood boiler made the steam for pressing. Edward Sasser purchased the building and ran the Sunshine Market and a commissary for the West Reaves Lumber Company. Mr. Sasser was elected to serve on the 1st Inverness City Council from 1918-1951.
Across North Apopka to the right of the new Courthouse is best remembered as the home of the Citrus County Chronicle, established in 1891, and located here from 1922 to 1981. David Arthur's owned the building and was editor/publisher from 1964 to 1981. The Chronicle has played an integral part in Citrus County for reporting news to the citizens. The Chronicle moved their main office to Meadowcrest in Crystal River and since that time, several law offices have maintained their business there, most recently being the Daniel Snow Law Office.
Courthouse Square - North East
At 205 Courthouse Square, you will find John's Shoe Repair. In the mid 1920's, the Merry family constructed the building and operated a jewelry store. In approximately the early 1950's, Jean Roscow purchased it and her husband, John operated an insurance agency, sold real estate, managed Western Union, and ran his travel agency. Since that time, it was a temporary library, various law offices, and insurance agencies.
207 Courthouse Square is known as the Valerie Theatre. Built in the mid 1920's, it was owned by Mrs. PG Maddox and leased by Herbert Pittman of Clearwater when the "talkies" started replacing the silent movies. To compete with the Avalon Theatre on N. Apopka Avenue, movie prices were cut to 10 cents for children & 25 cents for adults. Soon, City Council adopted a resolution to permit Sunday movies, which boosted trade in the City. In the late 1930's, Donald Giddens remembers someone releasing a skunk in the theatre during a movie! Margie Yoder Sanders remembers paying for a movie with a bag of rags when she did not have the cash. Barry Wimbish, John Matson and Bill Cumba were some of the theatre managers. Mr. Wimbish served on City Council from 1941-1943.
Located at 209 Courthouse Square is where Frank Sanders built Peninsular Abstract Company around 1912. Richard "Dick" Kaufman bought the business and changed the name to Citrus Title, building a new building adjacent to this one in 1973. For a time, Connor's Office Supply rented the building. Mr. Kaufman was elected as a school board member, as well as serving several terms as a city councilman. The law firm of Bradshaw & Mountjoy bought the building from Mr. Kaufman and resides there currently.
West Main Street - South Side
Crossing the lawn of the historic Courthouse to the opposite side, you will find that 101, 103, & 105 W. Main Street has remained occupied with thriving businesses. Built around 1915, this building has housed Thompson & Savary General Merchandise, Sasser's Dry Goods, Edgar Bellamy's Grocery Store for 19 years, Richburg Grocery Store for 40 years, Mary Scott's Restaurant - where people would often bring in their "catch/game" to be cooked; A & P Store, Western Union, just to name a few. The current occupants are Country at Home, Sandy Bottom Bayou, Helen's Consignment, all owned by Tim & John Channel. The office building of Militello & Militello at 107 W. Main Street was built in 1911, and once housed Allen Hardware, Annie Savary Tooke Millinery, and Rayford Meeks Flowers & Meek's Boutique.
Pine Street -North
111 W. Main Street, at the corner of West Main & Pine Avenue, stands the Masonic Business Center (formally known as Masonic Lodge of Citrus #118, F and AM), a three-story building constructed in 1910. This building was recognized by the historic plaque program in 2000 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
For the last of the historic buildings in the immediate downtown area, stay on Pine and cross the street going north to the two story structure just behind Coach's. This building was built in 1912 and constructed of red clay brick laid 12' thick, tied together with 1' iron rods to hold the 2nd story in place. There were 2 wood burning fireplaces for heat. The Inverness Post Office was located here from 1915-1937 with Mary "Mollie" Prodgen as Postmaster until 1936, when Joseph P. Savary took the position. Richburg Grocery Store was on the 1st floor from 1939-1942, and George Marion & Edna Richburg used the 2nd floor as their residence. From 1942-1945, the Conrad-Morris Funeral Home operated from here. The owner, Coy Conrad served as Mayor of Inverness from 1941-1943. O. Frank Scofield & Charles S. Reed owned the building from 1946-1954 where Carl Ogden & Carey Smoak operated a building construction business. From 1968-1997, Carey Smoak & Jack White ran a general building contractor business. It was an ice cream parlor in 1998-1999, then "Accents by Grace", and is now the Ice Cream Doctor.