Florida Local News, Politics, Sports & Business

Jan 11, Bartow, Florida: Historic Capital of Imperial Polk County

Bartow, Florida Issues To Do, Lodging, Eating, & Actual Property At Finish Of Article


Bartow, Florida is a Central Florida metropolis of about 20,000 individuals positioned about 50 miles southwest of Orlando and 40 miles east of Tampa.

It isn’t positioned on an interstate freeway, however is a crossroads metropolis the place US-17, US-98, and State Street 60 all intersect.  It’s a simple place to get to from anyplace in Central Florida.

Old Polk County CourthousePrevious Polk County Courthouse

It’s the county seat of Polk County and is a part of the Lakeland –Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Space with a inhabitants of greater than 600,000.

Anyone years in the past got here up with the moniker “Imperial Polk County” and you continue to hear it used generally immediately.


Native People had been first to settle within the space, however most had been gone by the point white settlers got here to the world. 

A Spanish map relationship again to 1527 exhibits a local settlement named Rio de la Paz, a reference to the areas location on the head of what would turn out to be the Peace River.

Bartow Vintage Postcard Main StreetBartow Classic Postcard Foremost Avenue

Redding Blount was an early settler who introduced 21 white pioneers and 12 black slaves to the world in 1851.  Their settlement was west of what’s now downtown Bartow.

The realm started to develop with citrus being an necessary crop.  A number of faculties and church buildings had been constructed within the space, together with a stockade named Fort Blount to guard settlers throughout the Seminole Struggle. 

Fort Blount Historical MarkerFort Blount Historic Marker

Florida seceded from the Union in 1861, and established Polk County from the jap part of Hillsborough County. 

This space of Florida offered meals to the Accomplice armies preventing additional north.

Cattle was the principle product and a “Cow Cavalry” was fashioned to spherical up cattle and drive them to the north. 

There have been no railroads again then, and it was similar to the previous west.

Jacob SummerlinJacob Summerlin

The cattle drovers used whips that made a cracking noise, and have become referred to as Florida Crackers. 

The “King of the Crackers” was Jacob Summerlin who turned a rich man from his cattle operations.

Summerlin purchased land within the space and donated it for a county courthouse, church buildings and faculties. 

In 1862 the settlement was named Bartow for Francis S. Bartow, the primary brigade commander within the Accomplice Military to be killed throughout the Civil Struggle.

Within the Eighteen Eighties and Nineties railroads started to serve Bartow and the city started to develop.  In 1887, Summerlin Institute was constructed.  It was the primary brick faculty home within the state south of Jacksonville.

Within the early 1900s phosphate corporations started shopping for big tracts of land round Bartow. 

The city turned the hub of the most important phosphate business within the nation in addition to being a middle of the thriving citrus operations within the space.

Bartow Wonder HouseBartow Surprise Home

A preferred vacationer attraction got here to city within the Nineteen Twenties when Conrad Shuck constructed the Surprise Home. 

He constructed the home out of bolstered concrete and it grew to turn out to be 4 tales tall with 18 rooms.  It was his household’s dwelling.

The house was an architectural marvel and he opened it to the general public for excursions in 1934.  Many vacationers and Floridians visited the house throughout the 30 years it was open to the general public.

The phosphate mining corporations started to maneuver south within the Nineteen Nineties and put their wind up on the market.  A lot of it had been reclaimed after the disruption of the strip mining operations.


Bartow is a nice metropolis that has an economic system nonetheless based mostly on agriculture, authorities, phosphate mining, and tourism.

Since Bartow is the county seat of a really massive county (Polk), there are lots of authorities staff right here.  For instance, the Polk County Faculty Board has 12,000 staff.

Authorities at all times attracts attorneys, and one of many largest regulation companies in Florida was based right here in 1929:  Holland & Knight. 

Spessard Holland was a neighborhood Bartow boy who grew as much as turn out to be the Governor of Florida and a outstanding United States Senator.

The well-known Miami division retailer, Burdines, really began in Bartow in 1896 as Payne and Burdines.

Downtown Bartow Street SceneDowntown Bartow Avenue Scene

Downtown Bartow has a wide selection of outlets and eating places along with many workplaces offering providers to the federal government.

Bartow is within the space referred to as “Bone Valley”, the richest deposits of phosphate rock on the planet.  One quarter of the world’s provide of phosphate comes from this area.

Polk County is the highest citrus producer in Florida, and Bartow is dwelling to many packing and processing firms.

Cattle can also be an necessary exercise within the County, as is honey manufacturing, blueberry farming, and lots of different agricultural merchandise.

Bartow Wonder House TodayBartow Surprise Home Right now

The Bartow Surprise Home continues to be standing and is open for excursions. 

New house owners are within the technique of restoring the constructing and grounds to its earlier splendor.

Bartow has performed job of historic preservation.  There are three historic districts within the metropolis.  Many notable buildings have been preserved.

Lawrence Brown HouseLawrence Brown Home

An instance is the Lawrence Brown home, inbuilt 1892 and on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations.

Mr. Brown was a profitable Bartow businessman who started life as a slave when he was born in 1856.  His home stands out as the just one in Florida nonetheless standing that was constructed by a former slave.


A present growth underway that can undoubtedly imply extra progress for Bartow is Clear Springs on 18,000 acres of former phosphate land south and east of the town limits. 

Clear Springs has the potential for 11,000 new properties, three faculties, a golf course, and a million sq. toes of economic area.


Peace River Wildlife Heart: 3400 S. Hwy 17, Bartow, FL 33830 – Immerse your self within the pure fantastic thing about Florida at this wildlife middle, the place you possibly can observe and study quite a lot of native species whereas supporting their rehabilitation efforts.

Polk County Historic Museum: 100 E. Foremost St, Bartow, FL 33830 – Step again in time at this fascinating museum that showcases the wealthy historical past of Polk County via reveals, artifacts, and interactive shows.

Bartow Vintage Heart: 375 E. Foremost St, Bartow, FL 33830 – Discover a treasure trove of classic finds at this vintage middle, providing a big selection of furnishings, collectibles, and distinctive objects that can transport you to completely different eras.

Mary Holland Park: 2240 S. Floral Ave, Bartow, FL 33830 – Benefit from the outdoor and calm down within the serene ambiance of Mary Holland Park, that includes lovely strolling trails, picnic areas, and a playground for youngsters.

Bartow Golf Course: 190 Idlewood Ave, Bartow, FL 33830 – Tee off at this picturesque golf course recognized for its well-maintained greens, difficult holes, and scenic views, excellent for golf fans of all talent ranges.

L.B. Brown Home Museum: 470 L B Brown Ave, Bartow, FL 33830 – Uncover the legacy of the outstanding African American neighborhood chief, Lawrence B. Brown, by exploring this historic home-turned-museum, which presents perception into the world’s African American heritage.

Fort Fraser Path: Trailhead positioned at 2750 Previous Bartow-Eagle Lake Rd, Bartow, FL 33830 – Lace up your sneakers or hop in your bike and embark on a refreshing journey alongside the Fort Fraser Path, a paved pathway that winds via picturesque landscapes and connects Bartow with close by communities.

Downtown Farmers’ Market: Positioned on E. Foremost St, Bartow, FL 33830 (Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm) – Delight within the vibrant ambiance of the weekly Farmers’ Market, the place native distributors provide recent produce, baked items, crafts, and extra, offering a pleasant expertise for foodies and customers alike.

Polk Theatre: 121 S. Florida Ave, Bartow, FL 33830 – Catch a stay efficiency or get pleasure from a basic film screening on the historic Polk Theatre, recognized for its charming structure and cultural occasions that entertain and encourage.

Imperial Symphony Orchestra: Performances at varied venues in Bartow – Immerse your self within the enchanting world of classical music by attending one of many performances by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, showcasing distinctive musical expertise and including a contact of class to Bartow’s cultural scene.


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