Visiting Dade City
Situated in the beautiful rolling hills and pasture lands of Pasco County lies Dade City and the surrounding communities of San Antonio, Darby, St. Leo, Saint Joseph, Blanton, Lacoochee, Trilby and Ridge Manor. Here, far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, you can take a step back to a simpler and less-hurried lifestyle.
Shoppers delight in picturesque downtown, with its array of antique shops, boutiques, art and unique restaurants all set within historic buildings. Dade City citizens have made it a priority to preserve their history and landmarks in the town. The beautiful courthouse stands in the center of activity, surrounded by the quaint specialty shops, restaurants and other businesses clustered within convenient walking distance.
The eastern area of Pasco County, featuring Dade City as the hub, is poised for business growth and economic expansion. A stable workforce, business friendly government, great transportation options and solid quality of life environment are factors that contribute to Dade City's positive prospectus. Please visit the Business Development page for information and direct links to agencies eager to assist you in growing or starting your business. Our "Official Community Profile & Membership Guide" is also found on this site's front page, highlights financial institutions and partner businesses ready to help you.
Please find some brochures to help you plan your visit to Dade City!
Withlacoochee State Trail (Hardy Trail in downtown connects to this trail now)
Nickname: “Tree City, U.S.A.”
Motto: “Proud Heritage, Promising Future”
Total Area: 6.11 square miles
Land Area: 5.92 square miles
Water Area: 0.19 square miles
Elevation: 118 ft
Total Population: 7,223
Dade City is a city in Pasco County, Florida, United States. It is popular with tourists for its antique stores, restaurants and historic architecture including the Pasco County Courthouse, Hugh Embry Library, and Edwinola. The Annual Kumquat Festival held the Last Saturday in January in our downtown is the largest one day event in Florida. The Kumquat Growers is a large producer of the tart kumquat, a citrus fruit eaten whole.
The population was 6,437 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Pasco County. Dade City is located in the Tampa Bay Area.
WELCOME HOME (the Newest Member of Monarch City USA)
Throughout its 135-year history, Dade City has been popular with pioneers, healthcare workers, students - and especially kumquats.
A Celebrated Past Worth Remembering
Blending old and new, trendy and timeless, the quirky and the quaint, a refreshing change of pace, an excellent place to do business, and a vibrant place to live. Dade City offers something for everyone
The Early Years
An earlier community known as Fort Dade, named after Major Francis L. Dade, 4th Infantry of the United States Army during the Second Seminole War, existed nearby in the 1870s and 1880s. Major Dade was killed in a battle with Seminole Indians. When the railroad arrived, everything changed. Businesses moved east. So did the pioneers. The newer town became official when the name of the Hatton post office was changed to Dade City on Dec. 18, 1884.
Dade City was first incorporated in 1884 or 1885. That incorporation seems to have been forgotten subsequently, and the city was incorporated again in 1889. When Pasco County was formed from the southern section of Hernando County in 1887, Dade City became the county seat of the new county, first temporarily and later permanently, by a popular vote.
A Historic, Picturesque Downtown Area
Erected in 1909, Dade City focuses its historic spotlight on the heralded Historic Courthouse in the cent of our downtown business district. Nearby are the Doric-columned Edwinola residences, the Hugh Embry Library as well as a variety of antique shops, boutiques, and delicious restaurants, including a fashion center/restaurant established in 1908.
The Florida land boom in the 1920's attracted thousands of people to the Dade City area, focused on real estate, business and other venues. (And they didn't even have an established Chamber of Commerce, just a quaint kiosk in the middle of Meridian Avenue).
The Hugh Embry Library, currently located on 4th Street, was started in 1904 when its namesake, then 25, was recovering from an illness. Embry had a strong desire to read, but at that time there was no public library in Dade City. He filled this need by soliciting donations from local households, leading to the development of a small library in the Embry home (now the site of the U.S. Post Office on Church St.). His efforts helped generate enthusiasm in the community for a larger library, culminating in the development of the Pasco County Library Association in 1905. After Embry's death at the age of 28 due to tuberculosis, the library initially faltered, but was kept alive due to the efforts of active community members and civic organizations such as the Dade City Woman's Club. The library was relocated several times over the next five decades, finally ending up at the current location in 1963. The library underwent a complete renovation in the late 1980s, with the current 7,200-square-foot building opening in 1991.
The Crescent Theater was Dade City's principal theater from its opening in 1926 with silent movies until it closed in 1950. It was located on the northeast corner of South 5th Street and Florida Avenue and the front facade/entry to the original building is still in place. Renovations have subsequently been made and the addition of a metal structure was completed in the 1990s. It is today used as a non-profit Senior's Services center. The Pasco Theater, on South 7th Street, operated from 1948 until 1999. The Pasco theater has since been demolished.
Lawrence Puckett (1906-1985), mayor of Dade City from 1981-1983 and a member of the Dade City Commission from 1976 until his death in 1985, had his recollections published by the Pasco County Centennial Committee. They date from when he came to Dade City in 1925. Puckett describes Dade City before and after the Florida land boom as “a typical southern agriculture area, where the few well-to-do controlled the economy and the poor white folks and Negroes did the work for very small pay. In other words, folks here were either quite well-to-do or very damn poor”. Puckett’s recollections also reconstruct Dade City as it existed during the Florida boom, with its various shops, streets, and buildings, most of which had changed significantly by the time he was writing.
The Florida land boom meant that people were streaming into Florida, usually sticking to the Eastern Coast, but the economic effect was to drive up property prices all across the state. For Dade City, Puckett estimated that the top money making ventures were either real estate, business related to real estate, or the production of moonshine. The movement of people and money into Dade City had a profound effect on its culture:
“Country clubs and golf courses were being constructed with country folks playing golf and dancing the Charleston. Wood lands and grazing lands were developed into subdivisions with side walk & streets built 9 miles in the woods, which in most cases was about all that happened.”
During World War II, a prisoner-of-war camp was situated in Dade City. The over 200 prisoners were German soldiers who were in Rommel's Afrika Korps and were captured in North Africa. They made limestone bricks, built warehouses, and made boxes. The POW camp operated from approximately 1942 to the spring of 1946. This camp was just one branch (No. 7) of the 22 prisoner of war camps in Florida at the time. The site is now the Pyracantha Park Civic Center.
Visitors and locals alike enjoy visiting the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village. Since it opened on Labor Day, 1975, this 16-acre museum complex has showcased the life of Central Florida's early residents. Highlights include a 1913 locomotive, a Methodist church, a house dating back to pre-Civil War, a one-room schoolhouse, even a train depot from Trilby, Florida.
A Bumper Kumquat Crop
Native to China, these "little gold gems of the citrus family" have been harvested in Florida from November through April. For over 22 years, the Annual Kumquat Festival® in downtown Dade City has celebrated this small and mighty wonder. Larger and juicier fruit can be grown in the sandy soils of eastern Pasco County and are best eaten whole to enjoy their zesty, somewhat tart, flavor. Locals love kumquats in a wide variety of foods such as marmalade, jelly, refrigerator pie, ice cream and sauces.
Dade City Today
Today Dade City and its surrounding communities of Blanton, Darby, Lacoochee, Ridge Manor, San Antonio, Saint Joseph, Saint Leo, and Trilby are located among beautiful rolling hills, bucolic pasture lands, and a small-town feeling.
Pasco County's eastern area, including the Dade City hub is poised for business growth and greater economic expansion.
A stable workforce with multiple industry opportunities, a business-friendly government, convenient transportation options, and solid quality-of-life environment are all factors that are contributing to Dade City's positive prospectus.
Visiting Dade City
Click Here To Read Past Newsletters