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History of Valrico – Osprey Observer

History of Valrico

The James McCabe Theatre was originally The Valrico Civic Club and was built in 1915 by W. F. Miller. It is the only building still standing from the early days of Valrico.

In the 1880’s when William G. Tousey, a professor at Tufts University, Boston, and other New Englanders purchased property in this area; it was known as “Long Pond”. Tousey renamed the area and called it Valrico, which is Spanish for “Valley of God”, in the late 1880’s. Among some of the original pioneers were the Wheelers, Clarke’s, Spencer’s, Windhorst’s, Lunsford’s, Harvey’s, and the McKay’s.

In 1890, when the railroad was completed, Tousey started building up the town by adding streets, building retail stores and finally a bank. In 1893, Valrico’s population was only 100 people. However in 1895 these plans were deterred due to a freeze, and despite a falling population, a school was built in 1896. By 1911 there were only 50 people left in the town.

Between the years 1910-1914 Judge Hamner, Governor Van Sant, D. Humbird, W.H., S.C. Phipps and W.F. Miller began to promote and improve the land along the Hopewell Rd., which eventually became S.R. 60. When people were finally ready to reinitiate the development of Valrico, they needed funding. Mr. W.F. Miller served as the president of The Valrico Improvement Association, an association that worked closely with the residents to raise money. The association was started in 1913 and it raised $3500 to build the Valrico Civic Center. The building still stands today, but is now the James McCabe Theatre, home to The Village Players. Also during this time period the first general store was opened by Lovett Brandon in 1912.

Valrico did not stand a chance against the stock market crash and companies and businesses took a hard hit. Two orange packing plants and the general store were the only three businesses to stay afloat, but shortly after even the packing plants closed and everyone headed back up north. The next time Valrico saw an influx of people moving into the area wasn’t until the mid-1950’s when S.R. 60 was connected to Adamo Dr., leading into Tampa.

Valrico’s population in the 2000 census was slightly over 6500, but in just ten years, the estimated population has risen to over 60,000 residents and continues to grow. Michelle Colesanti, Assignment Editor at the Osprey Observer noted that the good reputation of the schools were the main reason for choosing the Bloomingdale area of Valrico. Colesanti said, “It’s been fun watching the area blossom over the years from cow pastures to beautiful subdivisions and neighborhoods.”