San Antonio, Florida

According to William G. Dayton, who wrote a brief history of the area, San Antonio was first settled post-1845 by Judge Edmond Dunne who, hurt by the anti-catholic sentiment endemic to the times, envisioned the land as a "Catholic Colony, a settlement dominated by Roman Catholics and a center of Catholic civilization in Florida." He named his carefully laid out town, which included schools, a monastery, a convent and a home for orphans, San Antonio in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. When the rail came through in 1887, many new settlers arrived, and with them, new ways of life. In 1926, in an effort to modernize, the town was renamed "The City of Lake Jovitall," its borders were greatly extended, and Dunne's obviously Catholic street names were changed: Sacred Heart Street became Rhode Island Avenue; Pius X Avenue became Curley Street. After the Great Depression though, the borders were redrawn to their original standards and the city was again renamed San Antonio. The streets however, kept their "modernized" names.

Shopping and Dining in San Antonio

Until the promised Pasco Town Center arrives, residents of San Antonio take a quick jaunt to Dade City, just minutes away, for most shopping and dining requirements. Since Dade City is home to a mall and all the chain restaurants and big box retail outlets, and since Tampa is just 30 minutes away by the Interstate, San Antonio residents still have plenty of options.
Locals, however, do rave about Pancho Villa's Mexican restaurant on Curley Road, word has it that the place is packed at dinnertime, and that the food is authentically authentic and muchas delicious! Another local favorite is Al's Famous Pizza, also on Curley.

Leisure and Play in San Antonio

Rural doesn't mean boring! Quite the contrary: there's plenty to do in and around San Antonio. The annual San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival is the area's top attraction; held the 3rd Saturday in October since 1967, the Festival offers, naturally, snake shows, gopher races, food, entertainment, arts and crafts, pageants and lots more. Another popular attraction is Pioneer Days, held at the nearby Dade City Pioneer Florida Museum and Village. The museum started back in 1961 when a prominent San Antonio resident gifted 37 vehicles and tools of yesteryear to the Pasco County Fair Association. Since then, the Museum also houses the restored Overstreet House, a one-room school house from Lacoochee, a church from Enterprise, a rail depot and a train engine.
The Museum is also host of the popular County Christmas each December, which features cane grinding, syrup making, garden tractor pulls, live entertainment and a decked-out holiday d├ęcor. In February the Museum hosts its annual Farm Festival and Quilt Show, featuring the draft horse pulling competition, traveling quilt collections, quilts and quilt supplies, quilt appraisals and the People's Choice Quilt Award.

Another San Antonio treasure is the old Train Depot, the last remaining depot on the Orange Belt Railway. The Depot today serves as a community building for parties and events, and houses a museum with authentic railroad memorabilia including a rare, restored caboose.

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