New Port Richey City Hall and Public Library

Port Richey (on the northern shores of the Pithlachascotee River) was established by Captain Aaron Richey in the 1880's. In those days, the area of New Port Richey (to the south of Port Richey) was known as Hickory Hammock but a real townsite started to form around 1915 and became incorporated as New Port Richey in 1924.

During the 1920's, New Port Richey was promoted heavily to the Hollywood (California) movie folks as a great place to make movies. Those were the days of the silent films and several were made in the area. Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan lived in town and many of their friends came to visit. Irving Berlin, Paul Whiteman and Ed Wynn all owned property in New Port Richey, too. Paramount Pictures was even looking into building a large movie studio in the area when the Great Depression hit and ended most of those dreams.

These days, New Port Richey is still a small but fast-growing town. To visit the real town of New Port Richey, though, you need to get off US Highway 19 and go east a couple blocks on Main Street. One block away from that 50-mile-long strip mall you'll find a quaint little town, still wearing a lot of the Moroccan/Mediterranean architecture used in those 1920's movies. When I visited to take the photos on this page, I parked almost next to the Pithlachascotee River on the west side of downtown. Across the street was Sims Park and the Hacienda (a hotel built back in the 1920's, empty now). I then walked several blocks east to the New Port Richey City Hall and Public Library. It was easy to tell the library part of the building but the signage indicating city hall was somewhat understated (and obscured by the tree cover). But for a downtown area, it was beautiful and peaceful.

On my way back to the car I detoured north for one block to Orange Lake and sat under some big oaks, watching some large green turtles playing in the water for a bit. Then I went back to Main Street and headed for Sims Park. Beautiful little bandshell (apparently George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both gave speeches there while they were in office), benches and picnic tables with views of the Pithlachascotee, docks giving direct access and a really nice playground area under the trees (I'm glad my grandson wasn't with me, I'd still be trying to extricate him from the trees).

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of New Port Richey dropped about 7.5%.