HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
The Swafford Building/Chasco Inn Building
This page was last revised on Nov. 20, 2011.
The Havens Building was constructed in 1915, although according to West Pasco’s Heritage it was completed in 1916. The original owner of the building was Horace H. Havens (b., Sept. 17, 1867, Michigan; d. Feb. 14, 1948, Tampa).
The building apparently was not originally a hotel, as a December 1918 Port Richey Post lists guests only at other hotels. A January 1916 newspaper reported that New Port Richey had only two hotels, presumably the Sass Hotel and Hotel Newport.
An undated photo shows Emil Nyman, owner of The Standard Grocery, standing in front of his grocery store in the Havens Building. It appears that "HAVENS 1915" is painted at the top of the front of the building.
A photo showing the building taken during the first Chasco Fiesta in 1922 shows a sign "Rialto European" on the west side of the building. The sign also seems to say "H. H. Havens, prop.," but the sign is difficult to read in the photo.
On Aug. 28, 1925, the New Port Richey Press reported:
The H. H. Havens building with a frontage of fifty feet on Main street and located at the corner of Florida avenue, has been purchased by M. H. Swafford, according to an announcement made by Mr. Swafford this week. The building at present contains the post office and a store room on the ground floor facing on Main Street and the W. W. McIntyre wood working shop in the rear, fronting on Florida avenue. The upper floor is arranged for a hotel. Mr. Swafford has stated his intentions of making a number of alterations and improvements to the present building, with the intention of fitting up the upstairs as a first class hotel.
The Swafford Building was constructed on the same site as the Havens Building by Mort Swafford in 1926.
(A marker formerly positioned on the front of the Chasco Inn Building claimed that the building was the oldest commercial building in downtown New Port Richey. This claim rests on the premise that it is actually the same building as the earlier H. H. Havens Building, and that the building was merely remodeled in 1926. However, a sign saying “SWAFFORD 1926” appeared on the front of the building in 1926.)
On Feb. 12, 1926, the New Port Richey Press reported:
At last, to vindicate all that has been said about the advent of a few new hotels in town, the Harmony Hotel, in the Swafford Building, is the first of the group to open its doors to the public. The new hotel will be run on the American and European plans, and its rates will be such as not to embarrass even the smallest of incomes. Each room has an out-of-doors aspect, and is beautifully appointed with the best in furniture, as its surroundings warrant.
A post card photo captioned “New Port Richey, Fla., Sunday, October 3, 1926” shows Main Street, and the Swafford building is visible with a scoreboard erected beside it. The New Port Richey Press showed the same photo the following year, with the caption: "The World’s Series was shown by electric scoreboard last fall, and cars lined Main Street each day to follow the progress of the games. It was through the enterprise of Charles W. Reed, proprietor of The Hub, that residents here were afforded this treat. The scoreboard may be seen, set against the Swafford Building, adjoining The Hub Billiard Parlor.”
On March 4, 1927, the New Port Richey Press carried a photo of the Swafford building with the caption:
The gables of the Swafford Building are architectural attractions of New Port Richey’s Main street, and the building erected by Mort Swafford a year ago is one of the most popular business houses in the city. The popular owner, one of the city’s foremost realtors, has among his tenants the Chamber of Commerce, the sales department of the Burns-Becker Corporation, and The Hub.
A second photo of Main Street, published in the same newspaper, shows the sign "Harmony Hotel" on a corner of the building.
On January 20, 1928, the New Port Richey Press showed a photo of the Swafford Building with the caption:
The Register’s Cash Grocery, formerly known as Maloney’s, which recently moved into the Swafford Building on Main street, shown above, has increased its business to twice the amount done in the old stand two blocks east of the new quarters. The new quarters occupy the corner room of the Swafford building and faces on two streets, making it accessible from either side. A rear room is used for the feed and grain department, making it possible to do business with the minimum number of clerks.”
On Feb. 7, 1930, the New Port Richey Press carried a photo of the building with the caption:
Just-A-Mere Inn, Main street, latest addition to the city’s hotels and eating houses. Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Breslin are the managers and have just completed the renovation of the building owned by Mort Swafford, making it one of the most attractive and modern small hotels to be found anywhere. Mrs. Breslin is known as an excellent caterer to the public, having until recently operated the Manor Inn.
On Oct. 16, 1931, the New Port Richey Press reported:
Plans have been completed for the opening of "Chasco" Inn on Main street here Tuesday, October 20th, at 6 p.m. with a special dinner. An orchestra has been secured for the occasion, and Mrs. Mozelle Priest, owner of the inn, is making arrangements for the most gala opening of any hotel yet started in New Port Richey. Mrs. Priest recently came here from Jacksonville and is an experienced hotel and restaurant woman. She has equipped the inn throughout with new, modern furniture and cooping equipment and plans to care for a large number of guests throughout the season just opening. Chasco Inn, which has been named so from the Indian legend from which the Pithlachascotee river obtained its name, was formerly known as Justamere inn, while under management of the Breslin family, who recently moved to Tampa, and is an attractive two story type building, modern in every respect, and right in the heart of the town, just half a block from the Boulevard and only a few steps from the postoffice. Mrs. Priest has a charming daughter, Miss Katherine, who will assist her mother as hostess at the new hostelry.
[The above article, of course, has it backwards: the name Chasco in the Indian legend is taken from the name of the river.]
On Dec. 28, 1934, the Evening Indepenent reported, “The Chasco Inn, under the management of McCounich and Dreyer, is now open for the public. The Chasco Inn was formerly operated by Mrs. Mozell Priest who a few weeks ago moved to Bradenton.”
On Feb. 28, 1936, the New Port Richey Press carried a photograph of the building with the caption: “The Chasco Inn, splendid New Port Richey hotel, which reopened last Sunday and is now enjoying a fine business. It is a fine place to stop and its rates are most moderate.”
On Nov. 6, 1946, the New Port Richey Press reported: "Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Mitchell, proprietors of the Chasco Inn the past three years, recently sold their property to Michael Fame of Lynn, Mass., who will operate the hostelry.”
On Dec. 10, 1948, the New Port Richey Press reported: "M. H. Fame recently sold the Chasco Inn building to Dr. and Mrs. Louis J. Colman of Tampa, who are now engaged in making extensive improvements on the Inn, which Dr. Colman hopes to have completed by Christmas to take care of late-comers to Florida. Dr. Colman is a native of France and a graduate of Universities of Berlin, Rome, and Paris. Following World War I he was an outstanding plastic surgeon known throughout Europe and with his own hospital in Paris.”
On Oct. 14, 1949, the New Port Richey Press reported that Dr. and Mrs. Louis J. Colman sold the Chasco Inn to Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Franklin, longtime residents of Tampa. The newspaper reported that Dr. Colman had returned to his residence in Coral Gables to resume his practice of medicine and organize a resort for the blind.
On Mar. 3, 1950, the New Port Richey Press reported that as of Feb. 24 the Chasco Inn was taken over from Dr. Colman by Mr. and Mrs. Tom H. Youngblood of St. Petersburg.
On Sept. 5, 1952, the New Port Richey Press reported that Dr. Colman had returned to New Port Richey and again has taken over the ownership of the Chasco Inn.
According to a marker on the building exterior, William and Margaret Weiskopf became proprietors of the Chasco Inn in 1957. Mrs. Weiskopf died in 2001. Her obituary stated that she and her husband owned and operated Weiskopf’s Camera Shop & Studio, Weiskopf Travel Agency, and the Chasco Inn.
In 1974, West Pasco’s Heritage stated that the building housed a bus terminal and several businesses, with rented rooms on the second floor.
Today, offices occupy the second floor of the Chasco Inn building. The walls have been covered with drywall, but the pine wood floors and balustrades on the stairs remain. The cupola which was added in 1925 or 1926 brings natural light onto the second floor. In 2005, the building was undergoing repairs.