The Ghostly Sea Captain and His Cat
The Indoor-Outdoor House of Captain Pierce, Longwood, Florida
This is to a degree, a story about a building that has moved further and more times than South Tampa's infamous "Pizza Hut on Wheels". (For those unfamiliar with this roaming restaurant, which currently serves as the Homebase Lounge on South Dale Mabry in Tampa (please link to PCR Issue #147 of January 27, 2003). Initially, Captain Pierce's house was built outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Rom there, the good Captain had the house dismantled and shipped via the Atlantic Ocean down to Jacksonville, Florida. From there it was put on board a barge and shipped down the St. John's River to Sanford. Once in Sanford, it was off-loaded and shipped by mule-packs twenty-two miles southwest to Altamonte Springs - - and even that would not be its final destination!
One of the First Pre-Fabricated Houses in the Country
The sea-faring Captain W. Pierce's house, which was constructed around 1870, was one of the first pre-fabricated houses in the country. The framing structure was placed outside of the exterior siding, forming panels that were bolted together shiplap style. The studs and bolts are located at the exterior of the house, which earned it the moniker of "The Inside-Outside House", which it retains to this day.
Like so many before and after him, Captain Pierce picked up his roots and moved to Sunny Florida after his retirement. But he picked up and moved more than just his own roots. He took with him his wife and one of his favorite pets, a black cat called "Brutus". In 1873, the house was dismantled and shipped to Florida as noted above. Although this was before the good Captain's retirement, the house was used as a way station for Federal troops traversing through Altamonte Springs, which is located about ten miles north of Orlando in Seminole County.
Home Sweet Home
Finally retirement came for Captain Pierce and he and his family and pet cat Brutus lived out the remainder of their years in the Indoor-Outdoor House. The family domiciled on the second floor of the structure and the first floor was reserved for the Captain as his wood shop, he was quite a gifted craftsman as evidenced by the circular indoor stairway, which exists to this day. Prior to that, the only means of access to the upstairs was through an outside stairway.
The House Falls Into Disarray
After Captain Pierce passed away, one more family lived in the unique house. Once they moved out, the house became abandoned and faced the wrecker's ball. Thanks to the efforts of the Central Florida Society for Historic Preservation, the house was saved from demolition and moved one (hopefully) final time to Longwood, which is situated between Altamonte Springs and Sanford, also in Seminole County. The house exists to this day as a gift shop open to the public.
Strange Things are Happening
Also existing to this day are many reports of a black cat peering out of the second-story windows, although no one has reportedly had a black cat within the house since the structure was moved to Longwood. Shop keepers, and occasionally customers and visitors claim that they feel a tap or a hand on their shoulders, and when they turn around, no one is there. In other instances, cold drafts start pouring into rooms with no air-conditioning during hot summer months. Doors open and close by themselves, although once again there is no evidence of a physical or corporeal entity being present. Lastly, the most common ethereal experience to occur here is that many people feel something brush up against their lower legs - - obviously Brutus still marks his territory all these many years after his passing!
How To Get There:
From Tampa-St. Petersburg, take Interstate 4 to State Road 434 East. Turn left onto S.R. 427. Turn left again onto Church Street. The Inside-Outside House is the third house on the left. A sign in front of the house identifies it as the house once belonging to Captain Pierce and his animal companion Brutus, as well as an eating establishment called the Culinary Cottage. The Cottage is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., and can be reached by phone at 407-834-7220.
Also, When in Longwood, Don't miss "The Senator"!
Longwood, Florida is also home to one of, if not the largest Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) trees in the world! Dubbed as "The Senator", in honor of Longwood's former State Senator, Moses O. Overstreet, who donated the eleven acres that the tree is part of. In 1929, former United States President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the park, reading his proclamation beneath this massive giant. The Senator stands at 118 feet tall. Presumably, lightening or a hurricane knocked out an additional 25 feet of the tree in the late 1800's. The tree has a 425" trunk circumference, and a 57-foot wide crown. It is estimated to be over 3,500 years of age, making it possibly the oldest living thing in the State of Florida, as well as the largest.
The tree can be found at Big Tree Park, a Seminole County park, just north of Longwood at 761 General Hutchinson Parkway. In addition, there is another large Baldcypress in the park known as "The Companion", as well as one of the most extensive natural populations of the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) tree in Central Florida. For more information, link to: http://www.co.seminole.fl.us/parks/bigtree.asp
Clyde Butcher Update
Florida Folk hero and world-class photographer now has his stunning 2004 Calendar, entitled "Celebrating Florida's Aquatic Preserves", available. Link to http://www.clydebutcher.com/04calendar.htm for ordering information. For the latest in the written word about Clyde and Niki, link to their on-line Muck-About Journal at http://www.clydebutcher.com/newsletter.htm
For the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird Enthusiast
Don't forget to visit the Sun Coast F-Body Association web site at http://www.scfba.net/ to get the latest meeting news and information concerning these two great American muscle cars that are a part of our automotive heritage. The black 2002 Pontiac Firehawk on the upper right hand corner of the site page is my wife Karen's car, nicknamed "Phooka" (http://www.florida-firehawk.com/), stylishly posed, a la Tim Dorsey style, on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa. "Phooka's" sister ship "The Huntress", a 1999 Pontiac Firebird that is my car is seen posed in sunset of the Everglades along Alligator Alley (Interstate 75 in Broward County) and across from the Port of Miami at the Chalk's Sea Plane Base on Watson Island in PCR #136 (October 28, 2002.).
"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.