The Plumb House was built circa 1896 on the northwest corner of Lakeview and South Fort Harrison Avenues. Originally, the Plumb House served as a paint store on the first floor and apartments upstairs. The construction of the Plumb House coincided with the beginning of the settlement of Belleair, a tiny community which sprang up in concert with the construction of the grandiose Hotel Belleview (circa 1896). The Belleview was built by railroad magnete Henry Bradley Plant as a resort to lure wealthy tourists, industrial barons, and other tycoons to this idylic section of Florida’s West Coast.
In the early 1900’s, the paint store was moved east out into an old abandoned and overgrown orange grove. Acquired by Ralph and Florence Plumb, the structure was converted into a single-family home at this time. An upper story porch was removed and a wrap-around veranda was added on the ground floor along with a kitchen and dining room. Mary and Kathleen Plumb were born in the Plumb House and spent most of their lives there. Their grandmother, Jennie Reynolds Plumb, was Clearwater’s first paid public school teacher in 1873. Kathleen was an early principal of South Ward School. Mary was secretary/treasurer and cofounder of First Federal of Clearwater, which became Fortune Federal Savings.
During the winter of 1873, Jennie Plumb taught all grades in a little log Baptist church just east of the Plumb House and received the grand sum of $100 for a term of three months. Ten years later, Clearwater built its first schoolhouse on South Fort Harrison, where the South Ward School stands. Present day Plumb Elementary School is named for the Plumb family.
Jennie Reynolds Plumb’s brother, the Rev. C.S. Reynolds, established the first newspaper in Clearwater in July of 1873. It was a small four-page paper printed on a hand press invented and built by Reynolds. In 1894,Reynolds founded West Hillsborough Press.
In 1982, Dr. Charles Nach purchased the property when Mary and Kathleen Plumb went into nursing homes. The Clearwater Historical Society at that time was searching for a permanent home and Dr. Nach agreed to donate the house and the cost of moving it to nearby Ed C. Wright Park. The move took place in December of 1983. Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Services agreed to lease the house for three years from the Society and have been most cooperative in the restoration of the historic structure. Formal dedication of the Plumb House as a permanent museum for the City of Clearwater took place on January 24, 1985.
-Mike Sanders, Preservation Chairman