A Look to Our Past

The Grovekeeper Collective Story

Murals of oranges painted on the walls of homes and businesses might catch your eye during your visit to “Delightful Dunedin.” This artistic tip of the hat to a once-thriving citrus empire commemorates the years that Pinellas County was a vast expanse of orange groves. The trees are long gone but there remains a local memorial to over a century of citrus production -the Grovekeeper Collective..

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A New Discovery

In the late 1800’s pioneers were discovering what is now Pinellas County for its ability to grow oranges below the hard freeze line. The area soon became occupied by both small and large growers that staked their claim and populated the landscape with productive orange groves. The Grovekeeper Cottage property was located within an orange grove where the grove keeper lived and worked. Due to the growing agriculture of the area, the Plant railroad system arrived on Florida’s west coast, bringing tourism and winter residents in the early 1900’s to the newly incorporated City of Dunedin. As land was plentiful, the citrus industry and winter visitors lived in harmony.

Mass Production Begins

The Hood Orange Juice processing plant opened in the early 1940’s, just blocks from the Grovekeeper Estate. It processed oranges from local groves and shipped orange juice concentrate to Europe during World War 2. The cottage site is a quarter of a mile east on the main route (now San Christopher Drive) of the processing plant. A hard freeze in 1964 spelled the beginning of the end for the groves but the plant continued to process citrus from farther south. Coca Cola acquired the plant in 1988 and recently sold the seventy-five-year-old facility to developers in 2022.

A Place Called Home

The demand for homes continued to rise and soon land developers purchased aging orange groves near Dunedin’s town center. Dunedin residents Gary and Lori Badders saw the potential of the untouched one-acre tract housing the original grove keeper’s home and equipment barn, purchasing it in 1991. They planted flowering trees, palms and shrubs, knowing someday these mature specimens would be the focal point of the property. Strategic placement of pools, ponds, walkways and hidden garden rooms enhanced its tropical appeal.

Fast forward 31 years: After raising their three children on the property and retiring from their careers, Gary and Lori wanted to share their oasis with others. Today you can reserve a unit in this unique and tranquil oasis while enjoying all the amenities Dunedin and the Suncoast has to offer.