The historic Linda Vista country store before the canopy was removed to excavate 72-year-old leaking gas tanks from the ground. In the back you can see the Himmelwrights' Sears Roebuck catalog home. Photo courtesy of the Pioneer Florida Museum. (e2492)
Jeff Cannon contributed the following article.
One of the highest points in Pasco County is known as LeHeup Hill on Fort King Road. LeHeup Hill was named for William A. LeHeup, who moved to Pasco County from Georgia in 1911. As the land boom of the 20's came Fred T. and Lizzie Himmelwright moved to the area. According to The Historic Places of Pasco County, their house was a Sears Roebuck catalog home, an "Aladdin" model, delivered in 1926 from the railroad depot in ready-cut bundles by David Cripe. Master carpenter D. K. Franey fitted the pieces together and completed the house atop LeHeup Hill. A local researcher, however, says the home did not exist in 1926 and that the Himmelwrights moved into the home sometime after April 1929.
In 1927 the Himmelwrights built a small country store. This country store included gas pumps and a spacious dining room with a lunch counter. The Himmelwrights named their country store "Linda Vista," which means pretty view in Spanish. It was named this because of the view from atop LeHeup Hill. It is said that those who stood on top of the hill could point out several surrounding communities including Pasadena, Bailey Hill, Dade City, Saint Leo, San Antonio, and others. The Himmelwrights are said to have built a large glass room for an observatory on top of the store. During its peak the Linda Vista Country Store served many who would simply come to gather together with neighbors after a long day of shopping or working.
In 1993 the country store was made a historic site by Pasco County Historic Preservation Committee. By doing this, the store would now fall under the protection of the laws regarding historic sites. These laws were put to test in 1999 when it was discovered the 73 year old underground gas storage tanks were leaking causing potential environmental damage. Part of the historic store had to be removed to dig up the leaking tanks. The tanks sat below the canopy that overhung the front of the store and also sat in the right of way of the Fort King Road. Through much debate and several meetings it was decided that the canopy had to come down. The canopy had been replaced several times before so it was determined it had no real historic value to the store. If it did have historic value, it would have been carefully disassembled and then put back into place once removal of the tanks was done. Soon after the removal of the canopy and leaking tanks, the property was sold to the current owners Frank and Patty Richter. The memories of this little country store and neighborhood gathering spot are rich and deep in Pasco County's history. The Richters have done a lot of work to restore both the county store and the Himmelwright home so the memories of this little country store can live on.