The History of Lutz  -  Page 12

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Recent Lutz History

Lutz grew rapidly in the late 1940's and 1950's thanks in part to town boosters.  In 1948, its proximity to Tampa was a distinct advantage: "The phenomenal growth of the Lutz area is due to its friendly community, its beautiful lakes, its civic and church life and its location so close to the metropolis of Tampa that it offers every pleasure of country life yet has the advantages of the city."

Lutz got its first fire station in the early 1950's.  It was on the south side of Lutz Lake Fern Road across from Bullard Park.  The park was established in the area between the arms of the "Y" where the railroad engines would turn around.  


The volunteers' first fire engine, a bright red one nicknamed "Suzie," was built by Lan Walters and W. T. Thomas, who owned a garage in Lutz. 

In the late 1950's the Dale Mabry extension was built to connect with US 41 just south of Land O' Lakes.  For years, its construction through the northern rural areas of Hillsborough and Pasco Counties was held up by the Geraci family who protested that it would split their pasture.  Ultimately, a compromise was reached and an overpass was built to let their cows pass underneath.

In 1961, library service began in Lutz through the use of a bookmobile.  By the end of the decade, Bullard Park was dismantled to make way for the Lutz Branch Library which opened in 1970.

In 1974, the fire station was abandoned when a new one was built across the street, next to the Lutz Library.  Also in 1974, Lutz Park on the south side of Lutz Lake Fern Road, west of the center of town, was dedicated for use by Little League baseball and football teams.

In the late 1940's, the Department of Transportation proposed the widening of US 41.  In 1995 the department finally began buying the right-of-way property and in 1998 the road was widened to 6 lanes.   In preparation for the widening, the old "Welcome to Lutz" signs were pulled up and tossed by the roadside.  


Many of the last traces of "North Tampa" and old Lutz were leveled to make way for an expansive new highway, including a multi lane apex, which first saw civilization as the old Tampa to Brooksville stagecoach stop, then gas station and country inn, steak restaurant, vegetable stand and flower stand.  These old landmarks at the Apex were to Lutz what the Sulphur Springs water tower was to Sulphur Springs.  The whole area south of the new apex would soon thereafter become a brand new Publix supermarket.  


During the "two-lane" years, it was not uncommon for farmers to drive their tractors on US 41, crawling along while leading a mile-long parade of commuter traffic behind them.


Just south of this sign was a popular steak restaurant called "Blaikies."  The restaurant closed in the early 1990's and the location became a fruit & vegetable stand for a short time, then was demolished in the mid 1990's when US 41 was to be widened from a two-lane road to the six-lane highway you see here.

The "Welcome To Lutz" signs were eventually replaced with spiffy new green and shimmering gold sign.



Looking north: Here on the right you see the two northbound lanes of Nebraska Avenue and on the left, the two northbound lanes of Florida Avenue, meeting to form the new Apex.  

Read  some surprising facts about the new signs and the original signs which were removed during the road construction.  The D.O.T. was NOT going to allow them because "Welcome" signs can only be placed for incorporated areas.





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