Laura Kepner and Warren Firschein

Join us Monday, July 13, at the Mirror Lake Library for An Evening with Laura Kepner and Warren Firschein, who wrote the book “A Brief History of Safety Harbor, Florida.”

Walt Belcher from the Tampa Tribune wrote:

Back when the town of Safety Harbor had only a few hundred residents and its famous spa was closed during the summers, things got so slow that weeds would grow on Main Street.

Today, nearly 17,000 people live within the 5-square-mile city limits and there are nearly two dozen places to eat and drink in the 10-block business district.

But Safety Harbor still has a small-town feel.

Often seen by visitors as a quaint retreat on the shores of Upper Tampa Bay, the city used to promote itself as “a hidden gem” and “the best kept secret in Florida.”

“Now it’s not such a secret, and they don’t want people to think it’s a secret,” says Laura Kepner, who co-authored the recently published “A Brief History of Safety Harbor, Florida” (History Press, $21.99).

The book recounts how the town grew from a small settlement in the citrus groves to an interesting city with its own personality and a health spa with a rich history.

Why write a book about a little town that is surrounded by larger burgs like Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater?

The book was commissioned by History Press, a niche publishing company in Charleston, S.C., that specializes in historical paperbacks about small towns, places or businesses with specific histories. Since 2004, the company has produced more than 2,000 titles.


Firschein says what fascinates him is the varied and layered history. The city has survived fires, hurricanes, boom and bust periods, and even bankruptcy during the Great Depression.

Their book begins with the Tocobaga Indians, who settled in the area more than a thousand years ago and left a massive mound in what is now Philippe Park, named after plantation owner Odet Philippe, who introduced citrus trees to the area.

And there is the legend of explorer Hernando de Soto who, in the 1500s, discovered the natural mineral springs that bubble up near the shore. Of course, the Indians had discovered it first. According to local (but unproven) lore, de Soto thought he may have found the fountain of youth Ponce de Leon was searching for, so de Soto named them “Espiritu Santo Springs” (where the healing waters flow).

Much of the history of Safety Harbor is tied to the springs that now flow under and through the Safety Harbor Spa and Resort. The book relates that by the 1890s the area was known as Green Springs, and people were making pilgrimages to bathe in and drink from the springs.


Firechein and Kepner say they found much material in archived copies of the town’s weekly newspaper, which started publishing in 1915. They also interviewed many of the city’s oldest residents, including 98-year-old Goldie Banks, who came to the city with her family when she was 5.

“My favorite line from her is that she was told by her mother than she was so little, she could be put in a jar,” Kepner says. “She was so tiny, her family worried she wouldn’t survive, and they came here for the mineral water at the spa.

“We have some good accounts from people who have seen a lot of change.”…/new-book-traces-safety-harbors-history-20…/

The Friends of Mirror Lake Library's photo.

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July 13 event


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An Evening With Warren Firschein and Laura Kepner – July 13, 2015

Authors of “A Brief History of Safety Harbor”

According to legend, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto arrived on the shores of Safety Harbor in 1539 believing that he had discovered the fabled Fountain of Youth. For centuries, the area’s natural mineral springs had hosted the Tocobaga people and would later attract early pioneers to west-central Florida. The natural mineral springs drew visitors to bathe in their restorative waters, and in the twentieth century, they were eventually transformed into the world-famous Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, enjoyed by wealthy socialites and professional athletes for decades. Today, the city is best known for its abundance of festivals and the collection of artists, writers, poets and musicians who call it their home–an oasis of calm within bustling Pinellas County. Join authors Warren Firschein and Laura Kepner as they detail the vibrant history of scenic Safety Harbor.

Our author event will be held on the second floor of the Mirror Lake Library, 280 5th Street North, downtown St. Petersburg. Seating will be available at 5 pm. The talk starts at 5:30 pm.


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Friends Summer Book Sale – Saturday, June 6, 2015 – 9am to 3pm

Friends Summer Book Sale – Saturday, June 6, 2015 – 9am to 3pm

The sale will be in the Library Community Room on the 3rd floor of the Mirror Lake Community Library, 280 5th Street North, St. Petersburg.

If you have books to donate before the sale, take them to the library circulation desk any time between now and Friday, June 5.

If you’d like to volunteer for sale, we have the following positions available:

1 – Set up sale (move books from storage room, set up tables and signs, arrange books) on Friday, June 5, any time from 2 pm to 6 pm. If you can only come for an hour or two, starting at 2 pm, we’d love the help.

2 – Cashier on Saturday, June 6, from 9 am to noon

3 – Cashier on Saturday, June 6, from noon to 3 pm

4 – Pack up and return unsold books to the storage room on Saturday, June 6, from approximately 2:30 pm until we’re done.

Contact Diane Drutowski at if you can help. We appreciate it!

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Meeting minutes for March 4, 2015

The Friends of Mirror Lake Library March 4, 2015 meeting was called to order at 6:10 PM. Roll call was taken and the minutes of the February 4, 2015 meeting were read and accepted. Thanks to Barbara Riddle-Dvorak for acting as secretary and taking the February meeting’s minutes.

Monika Finley gave the Treasurers report. It was seconded and approved.
Future events James Schnur on March 9th and Jeff Klinkenberg on April 20th were discussed.

The second edition of the “coffee table” book about the library has been ordered.

A possible Friends picnic was discussed and members present said it should be put off to mid Fall.

It was agreed that the Plein Air paintings will be marketed at all speaker events. Diane said she would put it on our web site and Barbara Riddle-Dvorak would help with the presentation and sale of the paintings.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:03 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Linda Sagese, acting secretary

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“Check It Out”

Enjoy this music video parody made by the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. The link was sent to us by Brenda Riontino, a constant advocate for our library and libraries in general.

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Act now to prevent reduction in library funding!

Community libraries are one of the most valuable assets for bringing people together in ways that allow for personal and professional development, improve our quality of life via cultural engagement, and are recognized as a good use of tax revenue.  See “The Social Role of the Library,” American Library Association,

The executive board of the Friends of Mirror Lake Community Library encourage you to join us as a library supporter in urging Florida’s legislative leadership and our local delegates to increase State Aid to libraries, but at a minimum simply maintain State Aid for Public Libraries at the current FY14 level of $27.4 million. Currently, in the state budget both the Fl House and Senate have reduced State Aid by nearly 19%, or $5.1 million. This is leading to an almost complete shutdown in new construction of community libraries across the state, as well as offering Florida’s communities little opportunity to do anything but keep current structures maintained, while our state population continues to grow.

On the final eve of the last day of National Library Week, please consider sending a message advocating on behalf of all libraries, including our own little Mirror Lake Library, by visiting the following site:

Wayne Finley
Friends of Mirror Lake Library

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