Developing Spring Hill: It’s Start & its Iconic Waterfall

By Diane Bedard Posted on July 14, 2022

In 1968, the United States was in the throes of the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon was elected President, and Spring Hill was established. It is hard to imagine how the mega land developer, Deltona Corporation, would choose to develop this specific piece of Florida.

The Mackle Brothers created the Deltona Corporation to build their Florida communities. They created the name Deltona by combining Daytona and Delray. It was through Deltona Corporation that Spring Hill, an unincorporated area of Hernando County between Clearwater and Brooksville, was planned and built.

Frank Mackle, III, explained Spring Hill’s location, “Between Clearwater and Brooksville were miles and miles of raw land: gently rolling, oak tree covered and lake dotted.” So the western portion of Hernando County was converted to the unincorporated census tract we know today.

Spring HIll from 1970
Aerial View of Spring Hill area provided by Frank Mackle, III

It was the Mackles’ third Deltona Corporation community.

The Mackles began building Florida homes in 1938. By 1954, they had built over 10,000 houses in the Miami-Dade area. They were pioneers in selling Florida land through General Development Corporation, advertising that “for $10 down and $10/month, you could own a piece of the Florida dream.” It was to this end that they began developing planned communities after WWII.

Spring Hill
The Mackles arrived by plane to announce their intentions for Hernando County.

Spring Hill began with a purchase of 21,440 acres

The Mackle brothers, Frank Jr., Robert and Elliott, purchased 21,440 acres of land for their newest community. In typical Deltona fashion, they master-planned for 15,000 acres and left the rest as “inventory.”

In the master plan for Spring Hill were seven school sites, 23 church sites, 500 acres of commercial-business property, and 165 acres for future industrial development. Two golf courses and two housing cores were included.

Fanfare of opening of Spring Hill in the late 60's and early 70's
The Mackle Brothers opened Spring Hill with a lot of fanfare!

At the time of the opening, Deltona Corp. had built 5 miles of roads, 15 model homes, an administrative building, a sales office and a water and sewage system and not much more.

Deltona constructed the Waterfall to Welcome Prospective Buyers

At the entrance to this grand community, Deltona Corporation constructed a park that featured a beautiful waterfall fountain with 3 large flagpoles to welcome prospective buyers.

spring hill waterfall
A beautiful fountain was constructed at the entrance to Spring Hill, at the intersection of US 19 and Spring Hill Drive.

Spring Hill opened to huge crowds in May of 1967. Sales of home sites went at a record pace and the 28,500 platted lots were essentially sold out in three years!

Fifty years later, Spring Hill has changed dramatically. The Deltona Corporation’s sales office has been converted into smaller offices and the brick pillars which once bordered the park are still there, but they look out of place along the easement of US 19. I would guess that the ropes or boards that once made a quaint fence have long rotted away in Florida’s hot sun and wicked rainstorms.

Most of the Spring Hill homes that Deltona Corporation built are 2 bedroom, 1 ½ bath structures with a single car garage, targeting the limited-income retiree. In the 1980s, many of these homes were remarketed to Pinellas County dwellers – again, as a low-cost alternative.

spring hill waterfall
1967-1977 Mackle Brothers top salesman pose for a group photo at the iconic waterfall.

Today, most developers have models on Spring Hill drive, and they are more likely to be 3BR-2BA. There are newer master-planned communities and larger lots.

Spring Hill fountain
Barely a weekend passed that didn’t see the fountain at the entrance of Spring Hill filled to overflowing with soap bubbles courtesy of some of the local kids. Image by Diane Bedard.

The intersection of Spring Hill Drive and US19 is still marked by the same beautiful waterfall today, but by 2011, it had fallen into disrepair. No longer did the letters sparkle or the water flow.

The Spring Hill Waterfall was cared for by Hernando County Parks after Deltona Left

Hernando County Parks Department had cared for the landmark off and on since the 1980s. 2011 was a horrific budget year for Parks and Rec and the decision was made to cease its maintenance. There was concern over the Waterfall sitting idle and its working parts ceasing up.

Hernando County tried to get Withlacoochee River Electric Coop to step in and repair the electric, but they were turned down. There was public outcry that the Spring Hill would lose its main landmark. But what to do?

spring hill waterfall pump house
The waterfall’s pump house required major renovations. County entities and local citizens worked together to make the water flow again.

The Spring Hill Garden Club took on the project of restoring and maintaining the Waterfall. It was costly and labor-intensive. The Club’s members began with a “Save the Waterfall” rally in January 2011.

The Spring Hill Garden Club Restored the waterfall with a “Save the Waterfall Rally” in 2011

In response, the community came together with donation drives and fundraisers to ensure necessary repairs would be made and operation of the waterfall continue.  Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative came out and repaired the electric, installing lights to illuminate the flagpoles at night with some of the proceeds. Area businesses, as well as individual residents, worked together, raising money for this community cause.

Within a few months, the waterfall was refurbished and operating! In 2014, the Garden Club returned its maintenance to Hernando County.

Spring Hill Sign
The Spring Hill Garden Club tends to the landscaping and welcomes anyone to join them at the waterfall on Saturday mornings.

The landscaping has stayed under the willing hands of the Spring Hill Garden Club, operating out of the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens, 1489 Parker Avenue. There are 21 themed gardens which the Garden Club maintains.

If you would like to help with maintaining the Spring Hill waterfall landscaping, please gather with the members on location Saturday mornings. Everyone is welcome, no experience necessary!

Comments

Christopher "Chris" Walton COO, Dir. R&D, Great American Waterfall Company says

We would be honored to get involved with this restoration project. We would look at it as an opportunity to participate with the community that has supported us with employee base since our inception and the parent company that started us back in the late 80’s! Feel free to reach out for a convo!

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Thanks so much, Chris. Please reach out to the Spring Hill Garden Club for conversation.

Paul Martel says

When is cosco and olive garden coming to spring hill

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

Good question. We have aSam’s Club and Inverness and New Port Richey have Olive Gardens.

Maverick says

The newly painted letters at the Sping Hill water feature look TERRIBLE. Very poor choice of color. Barely readable. Should be repainted.

Name says

Olive Garden is in SH. We don’t have Cosco in FL.

Big Ben says

It’s ashamed the rest of Spring Hill streets and areas look terrible. Garbage and over grown weeds not kept up with no more. Long ago it was maintained well and always looking nice. That is no more. It’s like a dumpster or a dumping ground unfortunately.

Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ says

There are still many beautiful areas of Spring Hill.

Stay Connected
Subscribe