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Brandon History


The story of Brandon is a long one, full of growth and promise. Brandon's early history began when its founder, John Brandon, arrived at Ft. Brooke (now Tampa) in January 1857, migrating from Mississippi. Mr. Brandon and his wife, Martha, along with their six sons, first moved their family to what is now the Seffner area.

Then in August 1858, John Brandon purchased 40 acres of land in the New Hope area (now Brandon) located south of Hopewell Road (now State Road 60) between Parsons Avenue and Lithia Road. Martha Brandon died in 1867,and John moved his family to Bartow, leaving everything he owned to his son, James Henry Brandon. In 1876, James built for his wife, Joanna, a beautiful home which is now a well-known Brandon landmark, the Stowers Funeral Home, still located on State Road60 (now Brandon Boulevard).

Meanwhile, John Brandon was remarried in 1868 to Victoria, and in 1874 they moved back to New Hope. He homesteaded 160 acres and called his place "Brandon." Their home was located in what would become the corner of Knights Avenue and Victoria Street. Four years later, the New Hope Church was built on land donated by Mr. Brandon. This church also served as the first school in this community in the 1870s. After John's death in 1886, Victoria took a leading role in the budding community, serving as the first postmistress and requesting a civil engineer of the new railroad to survey and layout a town site. The new town was officially given the name of Brandon.

The community began to grow and saw the arrival of the first general store and a second school in 1905. In 1914, a third school was built on the site which is now McLane Middle School, as it was decided that the community needed one large school to house all of the students in the area. It was named Brandon Grade School and housed grades 1-8.

The town's businesses had grown to include a garage, a grocery, and a barber. In 1925, Hopewell Road became a nine-foot-wide paved road but had practically no traffic, so children were able to ride bicycles or roller skate there on their metal-wheeled skates.

During the Depression of the 1930s, Brandon's population remained small with only approximately 250 people, and during World War II, there was little or no growth in Brandon. However, the 1950s were the beginning a real growth period for Brandon. The northeast corner of Parsons Avenue and Hopewell Road became a very busy part of town, as a drug store with a soda fountain opened there and the U.S. Post Office moved nearby. In 1950, the Scogins family opened a variety store, and in 1953 Brandon got its first doctor, Dr. V. R. Hunter. Yates Elementary School was built in 1954, followed by Horace Mann Junior High School in 1957, when Brandon Grade School became Brandon High School.

Around 1956, Hopewell Road was connected to Adamo Drive, thus creating easier access from Tampa, and Brandon began to grow. This was the start of Brandon becoming the "bedroom community" of Tampa. By the early 1960s, Brandon's population had grown to 8,000 and the growth boom had officially begun. Brandon began spreading out into the surrounding communities of Limona, Seffner, and Valrico. Hopewell Road became four lanes and was renamed Highway 60. In October 1960, Brandon Post Office began free mail delivery to approximately 715 homes and 75 businesses.

Soon after, Brandon got its first shopping center; Stowers Funeral Home was founded; and a second elementary school, Brooker Elementary, was built. When the Brandon Chamber of Commerce began promoting the community, subdivisions began popping up everywhere. In September 1968, a third elementary school was built, Kingswood Elementary, located on South Kings Avenue. The Brandon Public Library was dedicated in November 1968.

By the 1970s, Brandon continued to boom and its country-like atmosphere was rapidly disappearing, along with the cow pastures and orange groves. Strip shopping centers were being built everywhere. The new Brandon High School on Victoria Street opened in the fall of 1972 and the old high school was converted to McLane Junior High School. The Brandon Community Hospital was dedicated in June 1977,after many years of planning. Through the 1980s, Brandon continued to experience rapid growth, and by 1988, Brandon's population was approximately 100,000 with over 2,500 businesses within an unincorporated six-mile radius.

During the 1990s, the Brandon area continued to rapidly grow, especially south of Highway 60.The area saw the addition of a regional shopping mall, numerous businesses, and a variety of restaurants in addition to apartment complexes and housing developments. Today, the population of Brandon and the surrounding areas is about 178,800 with over 62,000 households. There are now four high schools, six middle schools, and 16 elementary schools serving the Brandon area.

Even though Brandon has grown immensely since John Brandon first moved his family here 143 years ago, it continues to be a desirable place to reside with great community spirit and a friendly atmosphere.

Article reprinted from Brandon High School Alumni Directory, 1924-2000

Want to know more about Brandon, FL? Check out these links.

St. Petersburg Times article - June 6, 2003
Brandon Chamber of Commerce
Brandon Senior High School
Brandon Regional Library
The Brandon Headhouse

Brandon profile - ePodunk
East Hillsborough Historical Society
New South Brandon Branch Library
Seffner-Mango Branch Library

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