Historic Hernando Preservation Society

Preserving Hernando County's PAST


Centralia Historic Marker Project

The Historic Hernando Preservation Society is undertaking a project to place a historic marker at the site of the historic Logging and Sawmill town of Centralia. Your support is appreciated!


See details on this project and more at: http://historichernandopreservationsociety.org/markers

Member Highlight: Robert Townsend, Stitched With Love

By: Mary J. Moses

Robert “Bob” Townsend was a remarkable man. Educated at the Chicago School of Design, Bob would live a life of beauty and creativity. Bob opened a decorating studio in New Haven Connecticut in the early 1950’s. A ball was being held for the Foot Guard near the time of President Eisenhower's inauguration. Nearly 2,000 people attended, and Bob Townsend would be the one to design and make the ball gown for the Major Commandant's wife, Sophia Swanson. The Commandant extended an invitation to Bob to attend the ball.

Bob was in attendance that evening, with his cousin on his arm. She wore a gorgeous gown Bob designed and made. Marilyn Swanson, the Major Commandants daughter, was there with her date as well. Somehow, Marilyn and Bob met, one dance led to another, and they ultimately switched dates for the evening. Bob impressed Marilyn’s parents with a beautifully written thank you letter.

Marilyn asked her parents permission to invite “Mr. Townsend” to the Policeman’s Ball. Her parents consented, and two and a half years later on June 26th 1954, they were married. Bob designed and made the dresses for the bride, the matron of honor, four brides maids, as well as gowns for the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.

Their lives were intertwined with fashion shows and decorating, Marilyn attended modeling school and modeled Bob’s designs. He made nearly all of Marilyn’s wardrobe.

A move to California encouraged Bob with his creativity, and he continued decorating and designing. He and Marilyn opened a restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, but the Caribbean was calling.

Bob secured a piece of property on the island of Montserrat, 250 miles South of Puerto Rico. Bob designed and decorated their beautiful Caribbean home. He also decorated the View Point Hotel and it’s cottages. Bob engaged local women in Montserrat in the art of tapestry. Here they created tapestries, totes, and like items.

Bob and Marilyn did a lot of work for the British Red Cross. Fashion shows and teas were some of the things they did best. Now, Winter Haven Florida was calling, from there to Mount Dora, on to Columbus Georgia, and finally, Brooksville Florida.

Bob loved to write, he wrote two short stories, and was working on a book. Soon he met writer Heddie Warner. She, recognizing his talent, encouraged Bob. During Founders Week in Brooksville, Bob designed and created a gown for Heddie to wear in the Founders Day Parade. Later that day, Heddie modeled the wonderful creation on a stage built in front of City Hall. Bob won first place for his design. The fashion show segwayed into an art and craft show being held in City Hall. Here guests were treated to a viewing of Bob's “Tapestries of Montserrat” collection.

Bob lived an excellent life, he took joy in helping Marilyn at the Brooksville Women’s Club. Here he made the drapes that adorned the windowed for seven years. He decorated a beautiful historic home on Broad Street, was a member of Historic Hernando Preservation Society, as well as Friends of Chinsegut. He stitched, created and wrote with love.

When Bob passed on March 3rd, 2016, he left behind a manuscript he had been working on. It was here the love of his life picked up the pieces and painstakingly typed her precious Bob’s novel. With the help of friend and local author Jerry Cowling, Marilyn was able to get Bob’s beloved work published. The Woffington: Life and Loves of an Actress is a story depicting the life and love of an Irish actress set in the 18th century, was born. Bob’s Book can be purchased on Amazon, or through Kindle.

Historic Hernando Preservation Society honored Bob Townsend’s life at their April meeting. Marilyn arrived to accept the award in one of Bob’s beautiful creations that was indeed, stitched with love.

2016 3rd Quarter Business Meeting & Live Auction

Historic Hernando Preservation Society will be holding a live auction and pot luck dinner on Thursday, June 2nd at the Brooksville City Hall. There will be a brief business meeting beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. The live auction and pot luck will follow. Roger Sherman is donating articles from the traditional arts and decor venue. Sales from Mr. Sherman's collection will benefit Historic Hernando Preservation Society and the Tomanian Society. Bring your wallet or checkbook as we will have decorative arts and collectibles including a bronze goddess from SE Asia, signed William Newport oil painting, 19th century glass cameo and much more!!

  • Date: Thursday, June 2, 2016
  • Time:  6:30 pm
  • Location: Brooksville City Hall, 201 Howell Avenue, Brooksville


Field Trip to Citrus County Coastal Heritage Museum

June 4th: Citrus County Coastal Heritage Museum. 532 Citrus Ave., Crystal River 34428, 352-257-3870. This is a quaint little museum that offers ideas of a former City Hall/Fire Department/Police Department turned museum. Despite itʼs small size, it holds a large amount of historical information. After the museum tour, we will have lunch at the River Ranch Bar and Grill, 631 N Citrus Ave., 352-564-0902. Along the same block as the museum and restaurant are many little shops that require further investigation!! I know this will be a very enjoyable trip for everyone.


OLD HERNANDO HISTORY ROUNDTABLE is a group of individuals who share a common bond-the history of the “old county” (Hernando, Citrus, & Pasco).  The meetings are quarterly (FEBRUARY, MAY, AUGUST, NOVEMBER) on the third Thursday of the month.  The informal group meets for lunch at 11:30 AM @ Country Kitchen Restaurant, 20133 Cortez Blvd, Brooksville.   Following lunch is a speaker presentation on some aspect of history.


MAY 19:  Bill Dayton: Tales of Old Pasco County 

AUG  18:  Brent Weisman: Chocochatti

NOV  17:   Sid Taylor:  History of Withlacoochee State Forest 

For More Information Call:

               ROGER LANDERS…………..352-848-0505 or

               SID TAYLOR……………………352-344-4705

Honoring Robert Townsend

Historic Hernando Preservation Society was proud to present Marilyn Townsend, widow of Robert N. Townsend, with a Certificate of Appreciation for his work with Historic Preservation.  Marilyn was also presented with a fruit basket.

Robert, “Bob”, was a long time member of Historic Hernando Preservation Society, and he was especially known in the historic community for his work in design.  He was a key person in the execution of the Historic Home Tours Reception presented at City Hall in 2010.  Bob and Marilyn were also members of Friends of Chinsegut.  

Bob will be missed in the Hernando Historical community.

Headstone Returns “Home”

When young men Hunter Mello and friend William Lorentsen stumbled upon a headstone in a vacant lot near their home, they had no idea what events would follow.  Since bones were also found near the headstone, local police were called to investigate the mystery. They determined the bones were not human, and suggested contacting someone to connect the headstone with its owners.

The headstone reads "At Rest Mr. Jim Blount Died 1940".

The headstone reads "At Rest Mr. Jim Blount Died 1940"

Rich Lorentsen, grandfather of William, got involved to help the young men with their search. He researched the name on the headstone, and determined that the individual was buried at the Spring Hill Cemetery. He also researched the family, and found links to substantiate his information. Through a series of phone calls, Historic Hernando Preservation Society was contacted.  President Don Moses, Vice President David Letasi, and Secretary Jon Yeager worked together to investigate the matter further. 

Alice Walker from the Spring Hill Cemetery was contacted to connect the headstone with the family member. Ms. Walker, recognizing the name Jim Blount, immediately connected Historic Preservation with Margaret Blount Hart, 98 of Brooksville.  During the initial phone conversation between Don Moses and Margaret Hart, she confirmed that Jim Blount was indeed her father. 

Ruby Hart, cousin of Margaret, requested a meeting with William Hart, his wife Pat, and other individuals involved to return the stone home to the Spring Hill Cemetery.  The stone was carefully cleaned by Don, and carried by Rich Lorentsen with the help of his son. Grandson William and friend Hunter also assisted in the placement of the stone; the young men were very proud to be a part of the process.  Historic Hernando Preservation Society President, Don Moses, Vice President David Letasi, and their wives along with Secretary Jon Yeager were also present. A simple invocation was conducted after the placement. Margaret Blount Hart plans to visit the site with William and Pat Hart, as soon as she is able.  

The family that found the headstone in an empty lot and Historic Hernando Preservation Society President Don Moses at the Spring Hill Cemetery

After years, the missing headstone of Jim Blount was reunited with the headstone of his precious wife Nora, who died in 1927. There they stand, under the shade of a water oak, together at last.  Welcome home.

Certificate of Appreciation being given to the family who found the headstone at the May 5, 2016 HHPS Meeting.

Field Trip to Dade Battlefield State Park

May 28th: Dade Battlefield State Park. We will be engaging in a program entitled “Cherokee Leaf Printing and Native Dyes”. The program is between 10:00 a.m.-12:00. It is located at 7200 CR 603, Bushnell, FL 33513, 352-793-4781. Admission is $3.00 per vehicle. You are welcome to wander through the battlefield, and enjoy the local history. We will be joining for lunch at Sonnyʼs Real Pit BBQ located at 2684 WC 48 in Bushnell, 352-569-0200. The restaurant selections in Bushnell are rather limited, but a nice salad bar is also available at Sonnyʼs.

Florida Since 1945

Florida Since 1945

Presented by Steve Noll

Ph.D. University of Florida

Master Lecturer 

In 1940, Florida was a sleepy backwater, with the South’s smallest population.  With WWII, the state changed dramatically.  Looking at the social, technological and economic changes from the war on, this presentation shows how Florida has become a powerhouse and the example (for better or worse) of where America is going as a nation. 

THURSDAY, May 5, 2016 @ 6:30pm

Brooksville City Hall, 201 Howell Ave.

Brooksville, FL 34601

FREE to the Public

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