Frostproof

Frostproof

The Friendly City

STORY AND PHOTOS BY TAMMY SEREBRIN

Sitting in the City Manager’s office on the second floor of what was once Frostproof High School, I immediately understood the truth in Frostproof’s slogan, “The Friendly City.” Two women, both born, raised and making their living in or near Frostproof all of their lives, regaled me with stories and information. Tenny Croley, 66, City Manager since 2007 came into the job after serving as city clerk and as interim City Manager. Plagued by a series of bad management choices by her predecessors, she had a lot to do with turning the city around and gives credit to an “awesome, dedicated and committed” city staff. The economy is predominately citrus and agriculture, but it is working with the Central Florida Development Council and Enterprise Florida to bring in more industry.

Frostproof  Indian Burial Ground

Anne Dickinson, 82, a retired teacher, is the city’s mayor heading up the City Council, the legislative body of the city. The Council members, which are the community’s decision makers, elect a Mayor and Vice-Mayor from its membership annually.

On the first floor of the City Hall building is the newly re-furbished old Frostproof High School auditorium named for American Legion Post #95 which disbanded and left $70,000 to the project. Why is it called Frostproof? According to documentation by Historian June Felt; in 1886, Ft Meade resident Stephen W. Carson discovered this wilderness area finding “game running everywhere and fish jumping in the lakes. Also the temperature was six to ten degrees warmer than other areas.” He moved his family to this “paradise” and other families followed. When it came time to pick a name, the vote for the name Lakemont was almost unanimous except for Joe Carson, Stephen Carson’s son. Joe offered to take the application to the Ft. Meade postmaster to be sent to Washington D.C. and changed the name to Frostproof. When an 1895 freeze hit, the settlers changed the name back to Lakemont; but the trees came back out and bore fruit and the name, Frostproof, was restored.Both women have a passion and love for the town in which they grew up and where they still have lots of family. “Whenever there is a crisis within the community, the residents support each other and surround people with love. Everybody knows everybody, they stand up for you,” said the City Manager. “Frostproof is off the beaten path of 27 … it is an unknown treasure.”

Anne Dickinson - Telley Crowley City Hall

Not content to talk to me about Frostproof from inside an office, Tenny and Anne gave me a tour of their city. They showed me the two elementary schools and the middle school/high school (home of the Fighting Bulldogs). Two major distribution centers (Ferguson and Lowe’s) help the economy in a city where Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. Citrus Company has been a mainstay for many years. Driving through lots of orange groves, we saw the city owned Silver Hill Cemetery, the Overrocker home (Mr. Overrocker was the first postmaster) that, until not too many years ago, was the post office. We went by the historical museum, open by appointment, which was the former library. We drove past the old railroad depot that is now leased by the Chamber of Commerce. They showed off an Historic Indian Burial Mound and the Frostproof Tourist Club.

Two beautiful lakes, Reedy and Clinch, helped form the original footprint of the town, which is a two-mile hour glass shape between the two lakes. We drove part way around Reedy, which is “good for fishing,” and Clinch, which is “great for swimming and water skiing.” The old Women’s Club building, built in the 1920s as a WPA project, is now used by a church and for Weight Watchers meetings. We saw the Latt Maxcy Memorial Library named for a Frostproof pioneer. The Sports Complex, a function of the City, School Board and County, houses tennis courts, and softball, baseball, and Little League fields.

We toured the newly refurbished Ramon Theatre and the Frostproof Art League building located across the street from each other downtown on Wall Street. The Ramon Theater built in 1925 by Frank and Vera Thompson and named after their son provided a variety of entertainment from vaudeville to movies. The Frostproof Chamber of Commerce bought the building in 2002 and found funding ($1.3 million) to restore it. Manager Tina Miller proudly gave me a tour of the entire theatre. Programming throughout the year consists of an annual gala, mystery dinner theatres, and music events. Information is available at www.ramontheater.com.

Frostproof  Ramon Theater 2

President Jenny Grenke of The Frostproof Art League and Gallery enthusiastically showed me around the facility where there are regularly scheduled art classes, poster competitions, and rotating art exhibits. Exhibit and class information is available at www.frostproofartleagueandgallery.com.

For lunch, we went to one of the few restaurants open in July – Roscoe – owned and operated by a Miami transplant who has discovered the joys of living in rural Florida. A varied and delicious menu is offered out of what was once a gas station and bus depot. It was time to leave Frostproof after a delightful day with my two tour guides who made me appreciate their little town, its history and what it has to offer.

For more information, go to the city’s website at www.cityoffrostproof.com

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