The Driftwood Neighborhood on the northern edge of St Petersburg’s Big Bayou provides history and a hidden creative community for residents.
Driftwood is a neighborhood that draws like-minded creative types: artists and teachers, writers and poets, actors and theater people.
There were 19 original homes built in the 1930s in the enclave surrounding the Mullet Farm, which was built in 1910 by shipbuilder Barney Williams, who was the son of John Williams, a co-founder of St. Petersburg and namesake of Williams Park.
Driftwood’s colorful past makes it all that much more appealing to its bohemian residents. It was once a landing site for bootleggers smuggling in alcohol during Prohibition. It also claims the distinction, detailed in a historic marker, of being the only site in Pinellas County that was fired upon during the Civil War.
All sorts of artifacts have been unearthed in Driftwood. A shell fort believed to have been used by American Indians. A Civil War cannonball. An old rosary box. Prehistoric stone tools and arrowheads. Items continue to be found in periodic archaeological digs in the neighborhood.
The arching Driftwood sign sits at the main entrance of the neighborhood off First Street SE, about a block beyond is a wooden gate that displays a “No Trespassing” sign. Beyond the gate is a short, canopied path leading to a wooden landing at the Big Bayou water’s edge. From the lawn chairs scattered about on it, one could see across the bayou to Coquina Key and beyond the inlet, the expanse of Tampa Bay.
The path and the view at the end of it are communal property, giving all residents a bit of “waterfront property” on this little tropical slice of heaven.
Partial Edited Reprint from Tampa Bay Times. Patti Ewald is a freelance journalist living in Gulfport. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.