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Lakeland's Early History

Lakeland was first settled in the 1870s and began to develop as railroad lines reached the area in 1884.  The town was founded by Abraham Munn, who purchased 80 acres of land in what is now downtown Lakeland.  Lakeland was incorporated on January 1, 1885.  Among the names considered (and rejected) for the town by its residents were Munnville, Red Bug and Rome City.  The Shaw House was originally built in 1899.  At that time, Lakeland had a population of about 1,200 people, and the area was on its way to becoming a world center for citrus production and phosphate mining.

With the arrival of hundreds of new residents in the early 1920s, a number of historically significant structures were built in the downtown area of Lakeland, a number of which are today listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  This list includes the Terrace Hotel, The New Florida Hotel (now known as Regency Towers), The Polk Theatre, The Lake Mirror Promenade, and The Park Trammell Building (formerly the Lakeland Public Library and currently the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce).  The city also has several historic districts in and around the downtown area including the Munn Park, Lake Morton and Dixieland Historic Districts.  Parks were later developed around the downtown area’s crown jewel, Lake Mirror, including Barnett Children's Park, Hollis Gardens, and the newest, Allen Kryger Park.

Beginning in 1934, The Detroit Tigers began calling Lakeland home for their annual spring training games.  The team continues to train at the City’s Joker Marchant Stadium, making their 75-year run the longest in Major League Baseball.  Marchant Stadium is also home to the City’s Florida State League team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.  The 1930’s also featured the arrival of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  In 1938, he came to Lakeland at the request of Florida Southern College President Ludd Spivey to design a "great education temple in Florida."  For 20 years, Wright worked on his "true American campus" creation.  In his original master plan, he called for 18 buildings, nine of which were completed and nine left on the drawing board.  All of the buildings were built out of what Wright called his "textile block system," the first use of such a system in Florida.  He called his project "A Child of the Sun," so named from the architect’s own description of being "out of the ground, into the light, a child of the sun."  In later years, the college would begin to host the annual “Child of the Sun” Jazz Festival, named in honor of Wright’s project.  The Florida Southern College campus is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world, and in many ways, helped to form a pattern for many colleges in Florida and other areas of the country in future years.During World War II, Lakeland made an important contribution to the war effort.  Hundreds of young British airmen were taught to fly at Lakeland's Lodwick Airfield by volunteer flight instructors, a collection of barnstormers and independent pilots. These British airmen enjoyed the hospitality of Lakeland during their training and then returned home to fight in the Battle of Britain. Their skills in downing German warplanes were crucial to Britain's survival.  Later, when America entered the war, the Army Air Corps relied on training fields like Lodwick to train pilots for its fighters, bombers, and transport planes.  Airplane hangars and remnants of the airfield runways are still found near Marchant Stadium.

In 1990, Lakeland made its Hollywood debut when the Southgate Shopping Center (located on South Florida Avenue) was featured in the hit movie “Edward Scissorhands”, starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.  Moviegoers will still recall the nostalgic arch (built in 1957) over the central portion of the shopping center.

(portions courtesy of Wikipedia)

Restoration and Recent History
Inez and Tom Shaw purchased the property in 1999, 100 years after the house was initially built. Over the next several years, the house was treated to a complete restoration.  Tom worked closely with the construction crews, and spent countless hours hand-laying all of the floor and wall tiles throughout the house.  As the house neared completion, he turned his talents to landscaping and interior decorating.  As a result, the house is now outfitted with all of the modern conveniences, but the original charm of it's early years remain.


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