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New Port Richey

Pasco County

Year Founded: 1911Founded by: W. E. Guilford

History

On October 27, 1924, residents voted 201 – 4 in favor of incorporating New Port Richey, and chose Elroy M. Avery as the first mayor. He was sworn in on October 29, 1924.

Thomas Meighan, a leading movie star of the silent era, built a home in New Port Richey, as did golfer Gene Sarazen.

The Richey Amusement Company, a corporation composed of local businessmen, opened the Thomas Meighan Theatre on July 1, 1926. The theater was so named in tribute to that film star, who adopted New Port Richey as his favorite Florida city and was instrumental in attracting other stars of the screen and stage. Notable residents included Irving Berlin, Paul Whiteman, Raymond Hitchcock, Leon Errol, Blanche Ring, Charlotte Greenwood, and Gloria Swanson.

In 1928, Jesse L. Lasky, an important Hollywood film producer, visited New Port Richey and expressed a desire to “one day join [Thomas] Meighan and others in a colossal motion picture studio enterprise in this vicinity.” In November and December 1933, Harry Miller and William Zimmer of Paramount Pictures also visited, seeking a possible studio location.

For these reasons, New Port Richey became known as the “Hollywood of the East.”

Although the Great Depression ended these plans, several palatial homes, the 1927 Hacienda Hotel, and the 1926 Thomas Meighan Theatre (now known as the Richey Suncoast Theatre) bear silent witness to these glamorous years.

Story of City's Founding

In 1883 A. M. Richey, with his wife and daughter, came from Missouri and settled near the mouth of the Cotee (an abbreviation of the Indian name Pithlachascotee) River at a place familiarly known as Richey Point. He established a post office, and gave it the name of Port Richey. He was the first postmaster, and also had a small store on Richey Point. The actual beginning of New Port Richey dates from 1911, when W. E. Guilford drew up a proposed plan for a future city, and had many of the streets and avenues surveyed. This plan has been followed with very little deviation since that date. George R. Sims moved to the city in 1916, and since that date, the development of New Port Richey was steady and rapid. In 1919, Dr. Elroy M. Avery (future Mayor and founder of the City) founded and incorporated the Avery Library and Historical Society (now the New Port Richey Public Library and The West Pasco Historical Society). The Avery Library opened its doors to the public in April 1920, and provided impetus for the founding of the City, as it was, in fact, founded prior to the City.

Little Known Facts

Historical Sites

Name: The Hacienda - 1927
Location: 5621 Main Street
Historical Significance: Home-away-from-home for visiting luminaries: film stars, writers, sports figures, and more.

Name: Sims Park - 1916
Location: Bank Street and Circle Boulevard
Historical Significance: First known as Enchantment Park until deeded to the City by George Sims, it's the center of community activity, with special events and festivals throughout the year.

Name: Richey Suncoast Theatre - 1926
Location: 6237 Grand Boulevard
Historical Significance: Originally the Thomas Meighan Theatre, it now houses live theater productions year-round.

Name: The West Pasco Historical Society - 1916
Location: 6431 Circle Boulevard
Historical Significance: Originally a two-room schoolhouse, this historic building now houses a museum and library.

Name: Our Lady Queen of Peace Church - 1919
Location: 6431 Circle Boulevard
Historical Significance: New Port Richey's first Catholic church, barely seating 100 parishioners. Now owned by the City and moved to Sims Park, Peace Hall hosts weddings and special events.

Name: Pasco Building - 1921
Location: 6236 Grand Boulevard
Historical Significance: This office and retail building is distinctive for its multi-sided copper cupola.

Name: Sims Land Office - 1916
Location: 5728 Main Street
Historical Significance: Constructed of sandstone brick, this building was the office of City benefactor George R. Sims.

Name: Arcade Building - 1927
Location: 5805 Main Street
Historical Significance: Featuring a charming courtyard and fountain, this building houses offices and shops.

Name: Chasco Inn - 1926
Location: 5743 Main Street
Historical Significance: Now retail space, this building still sports its distinctive pierced/arched roof detail.

Key Historical Events

Event: An article in the New Port Richey Press
Event Description:

FAMOUS MILLIONAIRES OF BROADWAY BUY IN NEW PORT RICHEY
Thomas Meighan and Paul Whiteman, Irving Berlin, Sam H. Harris
Among Celebrities Who Have Purchased Here

Here is the list of purchasers in New Port Richey: Thomas Meighan, Irving Berlin, Paul Whiteman, Raymond Hitchcock, Leon Errol, Blanche Ring, Charlotte Greenwood, and Joseph Santley.

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