Albert Lewis’s gifts to the Southern city where he spent his winters a century ago have been memorialized in stone, and now in print.
The Luzerne County businessman, known for his dominance of the local lumber and ice-cutting industries in the late 1800s, was remembered last week with the dedication of a local historical marker next to a horse trough he donated to the city of St. Augustine, Fla., 109 years ago.
The marker came about largely through the work of Sheila Greenleaf, a St. Augustine woman with a passion for her city’s history.
“It was a spectacular weekend honoring Albert Lewis, who bestowed so much on our community in 1904,” said Greenleaf.
Lewis’ granddaughter, Ann Lewis, of Wilkes-Barre, attended the marker dedication ceremony in St. Augustine.
The event was attended by about 40 people, Greenleaf said, with the marker unveiled by Ann Lewis and L. John Arbizzani, a St. Augustine businessman who owns the land where the horse trough now stands.
Albert Lewis died in 1923 and is buried in Bear Creek Village, the community that grew up around his home and base of operations in Luzerne County.
Lewis spent many winters in Florida. In addition to beautifying St. Augustine-area thoroughfares by planting greenery — Lewis was fascinated by palm trees, Greenleaf learned — he contributed significant sums toward upgrading the roads themselves, just as he did around Bear Creek.
Lewis was a member of the East Florida Good Roads League, which advocated for improved roadways in the days before automobile ownership was widespread and paved roads were anything but universal.
He also loved horses, and the trough stands as a monument to that and his practical realization that animals trodding up and down South Dixie Highway needed a place to drink while hauling people and goods to and from St. Augustine.
Greenleaf said that following the dedication, Ann Lewis was treated to a tour of her grandfather’s former home, Casa Amarylla, now known as Wiley Hall and part of Flagler College.