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R. Wayne Ayers
Pioneer Days on Tampa’s Gulf Beaches
Though Spanish fishermen from Cuba camped on the key, and native Tocobaga Indians visited in an earlier era, the beaches were virtually unsettled when George Lizotte arrived. An early postcard of Lizotte on a fishing skiff shows the island’s only two structures. They were the home of original settler Captain Zephaniah Phillips and a tent erected by Lizotte to house workers building his Hotel Bonhomie. George Lizotte would figure prominently in the barrier islands’ history, both as an observer and participant. As an eyewitness to the events taking place, Lizotte gives a fascinating inside look at the Gulf beaches’ transformation from a primitive settlement to a major tourist destination.
R. Wayne Ayers is the author of a number of books on local history, including Tampa Bay’s Gulf Beaches, Tampa Bay’s Gulf Beaches: The Fabulous 1950s and 1960s, Indian Rocks As It Was, St. Petersburg: The Sunshine City, Florida’s Grand Hotels from the Gilded Age, and Belleair Bluffs from the Beginning. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Pinellas County Historical Society, and is a member and past president of the Indian Rocks Beach Historical Museum board. He is an appointed member of the Pinellas County Historical Commission. Ayers is a reporter/feature writer for Tampa Bay Newspapers, and covers the civic affairs of five local municipalities for the Belleair Bee and Beach Beacon.