Lewis honored at dedication of Dixie Highway trough
by Vanessa Baker
Special to Historic City News
During a brief ceremony this morning, Ann Lewis, the granddaughter of winter resident and St Augustine benefactor, Albert Lewis, spoke to attendees of a dedication ceremony honoring the man at the site of a stone horse trough which Lewis donated to the community 100-years ago.
Sheila Bacon Greenleaf, the leader and organizer of “Friends of South Dixie Highway”, the group of donors and supporters who are credited for the movement to recognize and preserve the history of this important business corridor from St Augustine’s past, won approval from the City of St Augustine to erect the marker that was unveiled today.
“In the 1890′s, Lewis began wintering in St Augustine where his sister lived,” Greenleaf told Historic City News local reporters. “He soon bought his own home and began embarking on local road improvements and other charitable work, just as he had in Bear Creek and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.”
Property owner, John Arbizzani, St Augustine’s Vice-Mayor, Nancy Sikes-Kline, and about 20-30 others gathered at one of only two known horse troughs that have survived in St Augustine since the Flagler Era. The other, the Pell trough, is located on the south sidewalk of Government House. The landmark Lewis trough is located at 92 South Dixie Highway — the former site of the San Juan Trailer Park.
Lewis’ holdings and legacy are, to this day, hard to overlook. In addition to being a supporter of the Good Roads League, whose members built and beautified roads at their own expense, Lewis owned 500 acres in St Augustine South, including Lewis Point — now known as Moultrie Point. Lewis Point Road led to a palmetto covered pavilion that Lewis built for picnickers who wanted to overlook the bluffs. Lewis Speedway, Lewis Boulevard, and a ball field, Lewis Park (no longer in existence) at the south end of Marine Street, are also named for Albert Lewis.
“Lewis built this trough to service horses and mules needing refreshment as they traveled in and out of the city,” Greenleaf said today. “Many of the animals were bringing much needed fresh produce from Hastings to supply St Augustine’s booming hotels around 1904.”
Ann Lewis traveled from her home Pennsylvania to participate in the celebration and to remember the accomplishments of her grandfather. In 1868, Lewis first entered the lumber business and ultimately amassed large tracts of land and 30-miles of railways connecting his properties to the Lehigh Valley’s lines. By 1881, lumber supplies waned and Lewis formed an ice company at Bear Creek. He created a massive operation that would dam the creek so ice could be harvested in winter for storage and shipment across the region in the days before home refrigeration.
Photo credits: © 2013 Historic City News contributed photograph by Van Baker