New Port Richey, Florida

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New Port Richey is a city in Pasco County, Florida, United States. It is a suburban city included in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 26,033 at the 2000 census (including New Port Richey East).

Contents

History

New Port Richey and neighboring Port Richey were named for Captain Aaron Richey who came from Missouri and established Port Richey in the 1880s. New Port Richey was established by the Port Richey Land Company on October 15th 1911 and incorporated on October 27, 1924. Formerly, the area was known as Hickory Hammock. Publisher and former Ohio State Senator Dr. Elroy M. Avery was named New Port Richey's first mayor.[3][4]

The Hacienda Hotel, on Main Street, is a 55-room Spanish-style luxury hotel completed in 1927 by George J. Becker and Warren E. Burns. At first the Hacienda hotel was a mental facility. Then they changed it into a hotel. then back into a mental care center. It is now abandoned. Silent screen stars Thomas Meighan & Gloria Swanson, and local promoter George Sims owned the hotel, and Meighan's brother provided the land. They intended to attract the west coast motion picture industry to Florida. Several silent films were produced in the rural area, and several actors built mansions along the nearby Pithlachascotee River. Screen star Ed Wynn served as master of ceremonies at the hotel's grand opening, attended by other Hollywood luminaries such as Lupe Valez, Ann Hardking, Meighan and Swanson.

The Meighan Theatre, on Grand Boulevard, was built in 1925 by the Richey Amusement Company at a cost of $50,000. With over 300 seats, it opened in 1926 with the silent film "The New Klondike," accompanied by a piano player. Sound was added in 1930 soon after the invention of sound films. Actor Thomas Meighan died in 1936, and the theatre's name was changed to The Cinema and The Vogue. Now the Richey Suncoast Theatre, the historic building with its elaborate entrance arch and golden dome, serves the community as a stage production venue.

Sims Park (Bank Street & Circle Boulevlard), originally called Enchantment Park, honored George R. Sims, an early developer of New Port Richey who donated the land and clubhouse. Relocating to the area in 1922 from Great Neck, New York, he purchased impoverished property during the 1925-26 land boom. His wife, Marjorie, earned the first title of the 1922 Chasco Fiesta Queen in the first annual Chasco Fiesta, a fundraising event linked to a legend honoring Native Americans who once inhabited the area. The amphitheater at Simms Park, off Main Street has hosted numerous famous musicians, as well as two sitting U.S. presidents; Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and two vice presidents, Dan Quayle and Joe Biden.

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