Celebrating the First 100 Years. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Sunken Gardens is the contrast between the rapid pace of the city outside it's vine covered walls, and the tranquil atmosphere in the garden. This is not just another garden. It is a living museum; a part of St. Petersburg's heritage.
In 1903 a plumber by the name of George Turner, Sr. bought what is now Sunken Gardens. The property had a large sinkhole and a shallow lake. Using an elaborate maze of clay tiles, he drained the lake, leaving a rich muck that was ideal for his favorite hobby, gardening. Neighbors so enjoyed strolling through Mr. Turner's garden, that by the early 1920s he was charging a nickel for tours.
The Turners open a roadside tropical fruit stand, followed by a small gift shop which opened in 1924. By 1935, the Gardens were so successful that the Turners put other ventures aside and focused on Sunken Gardens as one of the state's premier tourist attractions. Three generations of the Turner family continued the vision that created this unique tropical garden with its flowing ponds. The garden grew to include wildlife and bird shows.
Sunken Gardens was designated as a historic landmark in 1998. Today, the Gardens still occupy the original six acres that George Turner purchased. The tradition that was created with care 100 years ago will now be carried on by the City of St. Petersburg.
The City of St. Petersburg purchased Sunken Gardens in 1999 with funds from a voter approved tax. Preserving the garden was a community effort. With Mr. Turner Sr.'s original passion in mind, the city's vision is to preserve this historic botanical garden and provide cultural and educational opportunities.
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