A guide to Lakeland’s streets + the history behind them

Learn about the historic places and faces that influenced the streets you drive every day here in Lakeland, FL.

Ever wonder about some of the historic buildings on some of Lakeland’s oldest streets? Wonder no more, Lakelanders. In this guide, we’re sharing about the streets you drive down every day and some of the historic spots that live (or lived) on each one.

Airport Road | While not located directly off of Airport Road, the road’s namesake, aka Lakeland Linder International Airport, is located at the intersection on Drane Field Road. Here, the first version of the Florida Air Museum, at the time a mini-museum, opened at Hangar A, among other historical events.

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Aerial view of the research aircraft at the EAA Fly-in circa 1990 | Photo via Florida Memory

Bay Street | In 1925, the Studebaker Building, an auto repair garage and sales showroom, was erected. It also housed the Crescent Club, an active social group, until its refurbishment in 1933. Now, it houses businesses like Bay Street Bistro + Pressed Books and Coffee.

Studebakers in downtown Lakeland in the 1920s

Before the Studebaker building housed Bay Street Bistro + Pressed Books and Coffee, it was an auto repair garage and showroom. | Photo via Lakeland Public Library

Photo via Lakeland Public Library

Bella Vista Street | In 1955, Achievement Academy, which was then referred to as United Cerebral Palsy, opened its doors for the first time. The organization eventually opened as a charter school (one of the longest established in the state), for children with disabilities.

Buckingham Avenue | H.A. Stahl developed Cleveland Heights Golf Course as an exclusive golf community that opened in the roaring ‘20s. It has undergone renovations and ownership changes over the years, but still remains an important piece of Lakeland’s history.

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2900 Buckingham Ave., Lakeland, FL | Photo via Florida Memory

Combee Road | Built in 1875, Gapway Baptist Church was originally formed in the gap between Lake Parker + Lake Bonny (hence the name), operating out of a log cabin. The building on Combee Road was later constructed in 1947, and all that remains of the original location is the Gapway Cemetery with graves dating back to the 1860s.

Herbert J. Drane, circa 1917

Herbert J. Drane, circa 1917 | Photo via Florida Memory

Drane Field Road | Back in the 1940s, the City of Lakeland established a new airport, by the name of Drane Field, after local Congressman Herbert J. Drane. The airport acted as a training school for pilots from around the world, including England and Greece. In 1945, it was reestablished as a municipal airport, and decades later was named Lakeland Linder International Airport.

Edgewood Drive | This road that runs all the way from US Highway 98 to Harden Boulevard originally earned its name for being at the “edge of the woods”or rather, the edge of the citrus grove — in Lakeland’s original city limits. Fun fact: This road’s first residence recently sold for $560,000. It was last sold in 2002 for $173,000.

Eunice Road | Situated between Lake Hollingsworth Drive and South Florida Avenue, Eunice Road has ties to Florida Southern College. Named after Eunice Pipkin Barnes (of FSC’s founding Pipkin family), Eunice was an FSC student from the 1920s who made it into the Honor Walk as the top student of her class. During her married life, Eunice and her husband Zerney B. Barnes lived around the lake near the college and helped develop the surrounding area.

Florida Photographic Collection

Pipkin family reunion, circa 1902 | Photo via Florida Memory

Florida Avenue(s) | Perhaps one of the most frequently traveled roads in Lakeland, Florida Avenue spans north to south and is home to some of the most quintessential local landmarks. Notable spots that dot this avenue include Henley Field (1125 N. Florida Ave.), Polk Theatre (121 S. Florida Ave.), and the Oates Building (230 S. Florida Ave.), to name a few.

Postcards Collection

Henley Field, circa 1924 | Photo via Florida Memory

State Library and Archives of Fl

George Jenkins Boulevard | This might go without saying, but this historic road was named after George Jenkins Jr., the man behind popular supermarket chain, Publix Super Markets. If you’re unfamiliar with the legend, George incorporated Publix in the 1930s and the chain spread like wildfire across Lakeland and beyond.

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George Jenkins (right) at a Publix opening, circa 1969 | Photo via Florida Memory

Photo via Florida Memory

Hollingsworth Road | This historic road — which runs from US Highway 98 to one of Lakeland’s most popular lakes, Lake Hollingsworth — is named after early pioneer John Henry Hollingsworth. John settled in the area back in the 1840s, when it was called “middle Lakeland,” but only resided in the area for less than a decade.

General Collection

Lake Hollingsworth, circa 1880 | Photo via Florida Memory

State Archives of FL

Interlachen Parkway | Situated south of Lake Parker, Interlachen Parkway was once part of a historic intersection that housed Acton — AKA Lakeland’s arch-nemesis. Formerly located on one square mile, Acton took off in the 1800s and was a thing of the past by the late 1880s.

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A map of Polk County pinpointing Acton, FL, circa 1887 | Screenshot via Florida Memory

Know of any other streets with unique lore behind their names? Share it with us and we might feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

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