Temple Terrace Founder Honored with Marker Dedication
Bertha Palmer, who is credited with founding Temple Terrace, has a historic marker in her honor at Woodmont Clubhouse.
Woodmont Clubhouse is a place where community organizations meet and have events.
Decades ago, it was a school; and before that, it was part of property owned by Bertha Honoré Palmer, a Chicago socialite, art patron and businesswoman born in 1849.
On Monday, it was the site of a dedication ceremony for a historic marker in Palmer's honor—an indication to visitors that the community values its roots.
Around 1910, Palmer bought 19,000 acres of property in the Temple Terrace area and called it “Riverhills,” according to Grant Rimbey of the Temple Terrace Preservation Society. She used this land as a ranch and game preserve for herself, her family, and her wealthy northern friends.
“She was drawn to the Temple Terrace area because of its natural beauty—river, rolling hills, the same things it is treasured for today,” Rimbey said.
At the time of her death in 1918, Palmer was planning for a community of about 500 wealthy people in Temple Terrace. Her heirs worked with the first developers of Temple Terrace to help realize her vision for the area following her death, Rimbey said. Woodmont Clubhouse is the last remaining building from her Riverhills Ranch.
Five community organization partnered to help create the historic marker in Palmer’s honor and each donated $500. They were recognized Monday and include:
- GFWC Temple Terrace Woman’s Club
- GFWC Temple Terrace Junior Woman’s Club
- Temple Terrace Garden Club
- Woodmont Clubhouse Association Inc.
- Temple Terrace Preservation Society
The groups worked with the Hillsborough County Historical Advisory Council. It’s the first historical marker in Hillsborough County to have a photo inserted on it.
Organizers chose to have the dedication ceremony on Monday because it was the 33rd anniversary of the establishment of Woodmont Clubhouse Association, the organization that saved the building from destruction and turned it from Palmer’s Riverhills Ranch into a nonprofit community center, said Ruth Morris, the association's president.
“In the future, I hope that the Woodmont Clubhouse Association will continue taking this building back closer and closer to the way it looked on the exterior from the 1920s to the 50s, uncovering its original … siding, which still exists, replacing the windows, adding a metal roof,” said Rimbey during his remarks. “The Temple Terrace Preservation Society is here to assist with this important work.”
Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist also spoke during the dedication.
“What makes Temple Terrace such a special place in the state of Florida and in Hillsborough County is the wonderful quality of life—the charm that this community has and the reason why this has been an attractive place for us and those who have come before us,” he said. “Today, this recognition adds one more ornament to the tree—for lack of better words—that will help continue to make this city sparkle the way that it does.”