According to tradition, this is how Wildwood obtained its name before it was a community. In 1877, a crew of workmen and a surveyor were putting in a telegraph line south of Ocala. The surveyor was required to report in from time to time. So when the surveyor called in and the office asked "Where are you?" He paused, and the answer he gave was, "I don't know, except in the wild woods."
I.E. Barwick is considered to be Wildwood's founding father. Wanton S. Webb's History of Florida, published during the latter part of the nineteenth century, described Wildwood as being settled in 1877 by I.E. Barwick. Isaac W. Barwick was a 25-year-old entrepreneur who traveled to the area from Georgia and set up a lumbering operation. Along with a small number of pioneers, Barwick built a few stores, homes and a town square. The early settlers of Wildwood participated in agricultural pursuits, most of the products produced were usually for home consumption, like cotton. Some cotton was carried by ox carts to Silver Springs for shipment. Later the Lee family of Leesburg opened canals and waterways which made it possible to transport their products all the way to Bug Springs. Bug Springs is a large spring located near the community of Okahumpka.
In 1882, the Tropical Florida Railroad Company had extended a line south from Ocala to Wildwood. On June 1, 1882, the first train, pulled by a wood burning engine named "The Cabbage Head" arrived in Wildwood. By January 1, 1883, another eight miles was added and a new railroad was serving Panasoffkee. In January 1885, the Florida Railway and Navigation company started construction of an additional 14 miles between Panasoffkee and Terrell. This project was completed that same July.
During the first two decades of this century, Wildwood continued its slow growth. The city hall during these years was an eight-sided building called the Wigwam. The Wigwam not only served as the city hall but was also used as a place for public gathering, skating rink and recreation halls for the young people. The depression hit Wildwood hard in the late '20s and early '30s. Defaults and forfeitures were common and the city also had its problems. A generous reduction of tax bills due "50 cents on the dollar" brought a small amount of new revenues and the town grew steadily through the '30s, '40s and '50s. When the railroad industry declined in the '60s, the town was successfully redirected by a few farsighted leaders. A shopping center was built and Florida's turnpike was completed in 1964.
Wildwood has once again started its slow growth and is well positioned to both control and take advantage of the anticipated interest in the area as a great place to live and raise a family.
The Year 1905
School building on Cleveland Street - Wildwood
The town's second school, it was built circa 1902-03 to replace a year old school at the same site that burned in 1901.
The Year 1908
Wildwood- Town hall and community center.
Several rooms in the octagon shaped building (called the Wigwam) were reserved for town business, however most of the area was used for recreational, social and political meetings.
The Year Was 1879
North side of Oxford Street, west of US 301 (Main Street which runs between 4th and 5th buildings)
First building : Freight depot and livery stable. On porch are Colonel Isaac Ebernezer Barwick, city founder. Barwick owned livery store, hotel, and mercantile store. Also on porch is George A. Curry, owner of cotton gin, sawmill, and mercantile store.
Second building : Dr. Edward B. Fleece's office (he's standing in doorway)
Third building : Colonel Barwick's sister, Miss Julia E. operated a millinery shop in the front. Warehouse in back, owned by Colonel Barwick and sister. Captain Wiley A. Barwick their father in doorway. Julia E. next.
Fourth building : The Wildwood Inn, built by Colonel Barwick and owned by him until 1909.
Entire block destroyed by 1889 fire except The Wildwood Inn.
The Year Was 1890
The Wildwood Inn -
Built by Isaac Ebernezer Barwick and owned by him until 1909. 22 guest rooms, a large reception area, and a dining room. Managed by Mr. and Mrs. James O. Fleece from 1893 to 1909.
Later became the Colonnades. Finally known as the Majestic Hotel.
The Year 1905
People assembled in front of bank building - Wildwood, Florida.
The Year 1915
Seaboard Air Line train stopped at railroad station -
Note the Southern Express Company sign on the side of the depot.
Accompanying note: "Formerly Florida Central and Peninsular."