Gulf Cemetery gets historic designation

Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 02:34 PM.

Following five years of hard work, Bill Freeze announced this week that his efforts have seen fruition — Gulf Cemetery has officially been designated as a historic site by the state of Florida.

Freeze's journey down this path began when he moved here in 2002 and purchased eight lots in the cemetery for his family.

In 2006, developers announced plans to get a right-of-way to cut a road through the cemetery so homes in their planned development just west of the cemetery would have access to County Road 393. The property to be developed was 40 acres, which Freeze estimated would have resulted in 200 houses being built, which would mean about 400 automobiles would pour onto the road through the cemetery. He was not fond of the thought of his family's final resting place being desecrated in that manner.

 Freeze wrote a letter to the local newspaper stating his objections, which was printed. The letter resulted in 11 people contacting him who were in agreement, and all felt it was against standing laws.

The group collected $10,000, mostly of their own money, hired an attorney, and took the matter to court. A cease and desist order against the developers resulted, and a new cemetery board of directors was elected. One of those was Freeze.

The quest was then to find out everything they could about the cemetery's history.

Freeze learned a patent was signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 stating the grounds at Gulf Cemetery could be used for burial only. This was fodder for Freeze to pursue a historic designation.

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