Strange Corners & Surprising Detours — Clearwater pt. 1

The second in a destination series,  Strange Corners & Surprising Detours is a recurring feature that highlights unusual, compelling and less-visited sites around Tampa Bay, and, occasionally, other places encountered while traveling. Photos and words by Julie Garisto; additional pics by Daniel Veintimilla.

Clearwater conjures only a couple of bits of imagery to to most. Just about everyone loves or knows about the overcrowded, overdeveloped but still fabulous Clearwater Beach. Downtown Clearwater is still under-appreciated, known primarily for its Church of Scientology buildings, and maybe the Capitol Theatre or Coachman Park, but almost no attention is given to the eye candy between the gulf and the bay.

The Harbor Oaks neighborhood, located just south of downtown, is one of the prettiest and oldest neighborhoods in the city, and up the road, a collection of neighborhoods known to residents as “Greenwood” is a post-segregation but still-pretty-much segregated community, avoided by most white people. The area’s charms, however, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Here’s a look at some of the above interesting and pretty Clearwater places you won’t find in the tourist brochures.

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Nauti-Nancy’s is an Old Florida-style seafood cafe conveniently located next to the Pinellas Trail. Photo by Julie Garisto.

 

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Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church lets its presence be known with a majestic bell tower dedicated to a Clearwater civic leader whose name I mainly recognize from local car dealerships. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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On Gasparilla Day, this was our one and only pirate boat adventure. No beads or boobie-flashing here.  Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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Northwest view from the little Clearwater park pier. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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View from atop the stairs. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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I did some digging around on the web and found nothing on this  little no-name park (not mentioned in city or county directories) but it does have an actual city park sign that lists hours (closed after dusk) and allows dogs on a leash. Dog owners, of course, must clean up poop (which should go without saying but unfortunately doesn’t). Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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The Harbor Oaks neighborhood isn’t just made up of gorgeous mansions and villas. There’s a cluster of beautifully quaint apartment buildings along Oak Avenue — one of my first choices if I were to rent. The above porch belongs to Mike Post, a retired florist. Photo by Julie Garisto.
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Mike Post amid his greenery. Photo by Julie Garisto.
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In Greenwood area — an old church-turned-community center, originally St. John the Baptist Missionary Baptist Church, built in 1921. Photo by Julie Garisto.
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The beautiful bell tower at the Church of Ascension. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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Remember Dimmit Chevrolet?
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Bottom-up view by Daniel Veintimilla.
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Close up of the bells, bells, bells, bells … photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church lets its presence be known with a majestic bell tower dedicated to a Clearwater civic leader whose name I mainly recognize from local car dealerships. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.

 

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