D. Collins Gillett House
Historical homes of Temple Terrace
Originally situated at 914 River Hills in Temple Terrace, the D. Collins Gillett house was the largest and most palatial of the original 8 buildings erected in the 1920's. Built in 1922-1923 by architect M. Leo Elliot the Gillett house was a combination of Mission and Spanish styles which were popular styles amongst the rich people living in that area. The architecture included shaped parapets, decorative tile banding, arched windows, and wrought iron details. The style would go on to be known as Mediterranean Revival. This massive mansion sat on one of the highest spots in Temple Terrace and overlooked the golf course and country club, as well as the orange groves which produced Temple Terrace's name sake, the Temple Orange. In one of the pictures the terracing of the yard can be seen, another aspect that contributed to the naming of Temple Terrace. Though considered an architectural triumph by M. Leo Elliot, the Gillett house was demolished in 1980 with the lot being separated and used for two modern homes.
D. Collins Gillett was the president of Temple Terrace incorporated which handled the creation of the five-thousand-acre orange groves that bordered the city North and West which made up the largest orange groves in the world in the 1920s. Gillett would go on to become the first Mayor of Temple Terrace. A portion of this citrus grove would be repurposed in 1924 into the present-day neighborhood of Temple Crest. Buckeye Nurseries, the company founded by Myron E. Gillett and passed to D. Collins Gillett in 1922 in pairing with his role in Temple Terrace Inc. would lead to success for the orange groves, due to the production capacity of Buckeye Nurseries. The discovery of a tree in a Winter Park, Florida grove would lead Gillett to the Temple Orange. Although it originated from Jamaican budwood stock, the mother tree was heavily protected including iron clad contracts to prevent people from altering or misrepresentating of the Temple Orange or trees. These would be the trees Gillett cultivated to plant the five-thousand-acre orange groves in Temple Terrace. Work on the groves began in February of 1921, however the stock growth began much earlier, through Buckeye Nurseries, to supply such a large grove. The grove was designed to produce a million boxes of oranges annually after a few years of growth.