Tierra Verde was once 15 islands covered with mangroves, pines and bush. These islands ranged in size from only a few acres to the largest, Cabbage Key, having over 289 acres. For centuries, Indians used the islands for ceremonial and burial grounds. A marker remains on the east side of Pinellas Bayway, just north of East Shore Drive, where Indian relics were found in a typical shellmound, excavated when the road was built to Fort DeSoto Park. The islands were sacred ground to Indian nations as far back as 500 years ago, archaeologists suggest, and deadly conflicts occurred when outsiders trespassed.
Then the Spanish explorers came. One explorer, Ponce De Leon, came to the area in 1513, and again in 1521, when he received the wound that he later died from after returning to Cuba. Later, Hernando De Soto, Navarez and John Ortiz explored, and then pirates and buccaneers sailed the area, including Jose Gaspar, Juan Gomez and Jean LaFitte. A treasure was reputed to have once been buried here.
In 1848 Robert E. Lee, then a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. army, recommended that Mullet Key be used for coastal defense in Florida. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, Fort De Soto was built on Mullet Key. Remains of the fort still stand, along with fortifications on Egmont Key. In 1948 the federal government sold Mullet Key to Pinellas County for park and recreation facilities, now Fort De Soto Park.
Fast forward to June 30, 1961, the Tierra Verde Community Association, Inc. Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Florida, and the original Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants were recorded in public records in August that same year.
By December 1962,there was a road and a bridge to Tierra Verde. In January 1963, Guy Lombardo's Port O' Call Resort had its grand opening, where Frank Sinatra, Marlene Deitrich, Liberace, Mel Torme, and many other musical and theatrical stars would later perform. Lombardo promoted the resort all across the country when the band did a 10-week national bus tour to more than 20 cities. Every show included several minutes to promote Tierra Verde and 'his and the Murchison'sPort O' Call Resort.' All across the country, their bus had a Tierra Verde banner hung on its sides.
Guy Lombardo died in 1977, the same year that real estate developer Frank E. Mackle, III was elected president of a new venture called the Tierra Verde Company, a joint venture between Madonna Corporation, (a Murchison interest), and Delverde [Deltona] Corporation. Because of lack of local interest, the Tierra Verde Company worked with a network of international brokers and sold many lots to overseas investors. But growth on Tierra Verde was still slow. However, in 1984 Pinellas Bayway got an exit ramp off Interstate 275 and Tierra Verde property sales increased greatly because of the easier access. In January 1985 Deltona turned the community over to the homeowners.
So now we have Tierra Verde, named perhaps as much for the brothers Green as for its green land. We are 667 acres, an unincorporated portion of Pinellas County. Both St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach have bid for our annexation, but we've voted to stay independent. The 15 original islands are now the present six areas of Tierra Verde: Monte Cristo, Entrada, Pinellas Bayway, Sands Point, East Shore (Bayview) and West Shore (Oceanview.)
World Famous Fort DeSoto Park
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