A visit to the Safford House
tells much about the early history of Tarpon Springs. Although the exact date
of its construction is not documented, its initial section is known to have
been completed by 1883. The original house was a one-story four-gable
unpainted dog trot house typical of central and north Florida buildings.
Constructed of virgin pine from the local sawmill, the house as built
contained a little less than 1000 square feet.
It was soon acquired by Anson P. K Safford, who moved to Tarpon Springs to represent Disston Enterprises. a firm developing its considerable land holdings in the area. Safford formed the Lake Butler Villa Company to market the 20,000 acres that Disston had acquired in what is now southern Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
When Safford and his family, consisting of his wife, two teenage children, three-year-old daughter, and her governess, moved into the little house, it soon became apparent that they would need more room. It was decided that a second floor would solve the space problem.
By lifting the roof structure, second floor walls and floors were added underneath creating a two story house. The new floor joists were then dropped 18" below the original top plates to create high ceilings on both levels. A photograph taken about 1887 shows the house with a belvedere observation tower added to the southernmost ridge, a heavy crown mold to the roof fascia, a wrap-around covered porch on the ground level, and a Victorian gingerbread handrail around the deck above. The house also now included a shed roofed addition on the north side while a pergola is evident to the south. A glance at the roof reveals that two dormers had been added by this time, and the three roof ridges show cresting with finials at the four gables.
The area was growing rapidly. By 1887 there were 19 buildings, a new railroad depot, three stores, three churches, and a school. A new lighthouse was shining out on Anclote Key. On February 12, 1887 the town was incorporated at a meeting held in the schoolhouse,
Safford had enlarged the house sufficiently to give his sister her own room in this more spacious home of 10 rooms. The arrival of Dr. Mary Jane Safford added a new dimension to the house as well as to the town and the state for she was the first female physician to practice in Florida.
In December 1891, Safford and his sister died just a week apart. His widow remained active in the social functions of the town and lived in Tarpon Springs until her death in 1931.
Around 1900 she sold the lot on which the house was located to wealthy industrialist George Clemson, and by 1903 the Safford House was moved to its present location approximately 100 yards to the west. In addition, it was turned about 90 degrees from its original orientation.
About 1910 the Safford House became a rooming house, known as The Miramar, operated by the Meres family. During this period the house underwent many changes. The roof, originally cypress or cedar shakes, gave way to a metal roof. Additions to the west were made closing in the open porches upstairs and down.
In the 1950s, attempts were made to "restore" the house by installing galvanized wrought iron handrails and a pair of entry doors.
In 1975 the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.
The Safford House was acquired by the City of Tarpon Springs in 1994. It has undergone extensive restoration that returned it to its appearance in 1893. The house will serve the community as a cultural and historical resource. The Safford House is open for drop-in visitors Wednesday and Friday from 11 AM - 3 PM and other times by appointment. The Safford House is located at 23 Parkin Court, just off Grand Blvd.