January 18, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

Today we continue to celebrate our town’s 150th anniversary with random memories of the Blanche Hotel, the Elks Lodge, and much more.

*1969: A local landmark passed into history as the large sign outside the 60-year-old Blanche Hotel came down, officially marking the end of the famous local hotel.

*Also 1969: Under the direction of Rev. Carson Brittain, the First Baptist Church observed its 100th anniversary using the theme "A Century for Christ". During their ‘Centennial Week’, former Lake Citian Dr. Harold Tribble, president emeritus of Wake Forest University, was the main speaker.

*1979: The Lake City Elks Lodge recognized Frank Ott for his 52 years of membership and also wished him a happy 78th birthday.

*1947: The Columbia Forest Ranger School, forerunner of Lake City Community College, opened under director "Click" Mathewson. Some Lake City students in that first class were Latimer Bush, Albert Levings, Kenneth Wolford, John Paul Williams, and Ernest St. John.

*1961: The Fort White Public School held its first PTA meeting of the year under president Ray Wilson. Principal Richard Kahlich introduced students Linda Deese and Allen Daniels who reported on their trip to Girls’ and Boys’ State, respectively.

*1939: Mel and Betty Tannenbaum opened The Lovely Shop, the first ladies apparel store in Lake City. Employees Geneva Beach, Dora Cox, Tannie Witt, and Hazel Brown enjoyed working there so much they all stayed for more than 35 years and served three generations of customers.

*1932: A new post office opened on the corner of North Hernando St. and East Orange St. (Now Justice Way), and served our community more than 43 years. It is now the Court House Annex.

*1979: Lake City drivers were shocked into driving less when the price of gasoline reached $1.00 per gallon.

*1979: The Volkswagen Beetle stopped sales in this country when the Environmental Protection Agency raised clean air standards. CHS Driver Education teacher Harold Morgan, owner of two Beetles, was so sad he mounted a photo of a Beetle framed in black to mark that dark day.

*1943: Jeweler N. M. Joye began his watch repair shop in the front part of a furniture store at 408 North Marion Street. That store was the forerunner of today’s Joye’s Gems and Things.

*1990: Mitch and Clarice Evans celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Mitch operated the Western Union office and Clarice was a beloved elementary teacher for more than 40 years. Mitch liked to joke that a man came in one day who thought that the Western Union sold cowboy’s underwear.

*1971: Ichetucknee (‘Pond for Beavers’) Springs became a state park and just seven years later more than 2,000 Memorial Day visitors paid the twenty five cents admission fee to enjoy the springs.

*1971: Lake City’s Alfonso Lofton graduated from the Florida Highway Patrol’s class of recruits and became the first black officer in the FHP.

*1997: Dr. Kay Heimer retired as president of Lake City Community College after 13 years at the helm. At her retirement banquet, she thanked her husband for all his support and good-naturedly quoted entertainer Mae West, "One good man in the house is better than two on the street."

*1962: Local dignitaries gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Columbia County Fairgrounds. Some local officials who attended were Robert Capell, Dupree Moody, J.B. Hunter, Robert Hancock, Clifton Little, Cline Feagle, and County Agent Neal Dukes.

*1975: Myrtie G. Brown was given lifetime membership in the Lake City Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW) for her 41 years of service.


The December reunion for the combined CHS classes of 1949-53 was the best attended ever. More than 100 met at the Mason City Community Center and extra chairs had to be set up.

The next reunion will be held Saturday, May 9, 2009, at 11:30, at the Mason City Community Center.


Years ago Addie Lee of Lulu designed a flag that was adopted as the official Columbia Flag. Do any of you know where that flag is now?


Christians are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited people—until you try to sit in their pews. square

H. Morris Williams is a local historian and long-time Columbia County resident.