Not too long ago I was delighted to find a package from Arcadia Publishing in our mailbox. Inside, I found a book entitled The Hidden History of St. Petersburg by Will Michaels. I loved the title and couldn’t wait to begin reading.
Fanning through the first few pages, a poem titled Reunion in the Sunshine City caught my eye. If you have not had the pleasure of reading this piece by Helen Pruitt Wallace, poet laureate of St. Petersburg — do yourself a favor and look it up. It so charmingly captures the essence of St. Petersburg.
Cruising through the book I came to the chapter about the Women’s Town Improvement Association (WTIA). This group was founded in May of 1901 at the Detroit Hotel by the “city’s most prominent women”. Early WTIA efforts focused on the beautification of Williams Park. In fact, most of the gardening and planting of magnolias, oaks, and date palms was done by Association women.
As a result of WTIA efforts, we now can enjoy beautiful waterfront parks, sidewalks, band shells, and paved streets to name a few. Take a moment to reflect on how important their work was in shaping this community… “The Association left a legacy of compassion, civic responsibility, and vision that serves as a model for the city yet today”.
With love and deep gratitude, here’s to carrying on the legacy that WTIA left behind.
Many thanks to Arcadia Publishing for the perfect timing and Will Michaels for unearthing St. Petersburg’s not-so-obvious history. To get your own copy of The Hidden History of St Petersburg, visit Books at Park Place at 10468 Roosevelt Blvd N and tell the owner, Nancy Alloy, that we sent you.
This is the first in a series titled #UpliftStPete. This series will feature and honor groups and individuals who have taken action to positively impact our city.
Do you know a group or individual that uplifts St. Pete? Email editor@ greenbenchmonthly.com for publishing consideration.