The Richloam General Store in Webster has a long and interesting history and has been recognized for that history in the National Register of Historic Places.
Eric Burkes, who is the great nephew of Sidney Brinson who built the Richloam General Store in the 20’s, completed the restoration of the interior of the store in June 2017 to its original 1922 size. It was portioned off in 1935 for a residence in order to help supplement the family income by renting out the room due to a decline in the economy. The small space included a bedroom, living room and a concrete floor. A concrete floor was unusual at that time and added additional comfort to locals that were used to living with no flooring. In the booming economy of the 1920’s the general store had a railroad depot and inside was the first U.S. Post Office in eastern Hernando County. The general store was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in October 2017, and is the eighth historic property in Hernando County. In June 2018, at the stores second annual Hoopla, the historic marker was unveiled. Hoopla, which is an annual event, commemorates the founding of the store. At this year’s event over a 1000 people attended. Free BBQ was served, the Judy Family performed and guest speaker Matt Caldwell, who is running for agriculture commissioner, spoke.
The Burkes family applied for and received an additional historic marker in August 2018 for the fire tower at the Richloam Tract of Withlacoochee State Forest. The new historic marker will be placed next to the fire tower on forestry land and near the location where Mr. Burkes’ great uncle Sidney Brinson of Shroeder Land and Timber Company once built a clubhouse in the 20’s for potential Northern real estate buyers.
Now that the general store has been completed, the Burkes are in the planning stages to rebuild the train depot, cucumber packing house, multiple tool sheds, cane syrup kettle, and original kitchen. Mr. Burkes has a 40-gallon syrup kettle and is planning a one weekend a month event to set up the cane syrup kettle and cook the sugarcane in old Southern tradition. Making cane syrup is usually a fall tradition when the sugar cane is harvested. The build-out of the residential kitchen that used to be on the back of the general store will be exactly the same size as the original kitchen. Mr. Burkes still has the kitchen sink and has the exact layout of how it once looked. When the kitchen is rebuilt to original specifications and opened, it will have a one item menu available for purchase to visitors to the general store. Mr. Burkes has also registered the property for a 501c3 to build a nonprofit museum. Any profits of the museum will go to a scholarship for local children. The museum will be built on the one-acre property the store is on and customers will be able to walk through the store to get to the museum. The family also has plans to put in a petting zoo with goats and an original chicken coop. The visiting children and those in the nearby area will have somewhere to visit and experience what farm life used to be like. They are also planning on rebuilding the packing house that would be large enough to rent out for music venues where, again, profits will be used to raise money for local children’s scholarships.
All these plans will take a while to build-out. Mr. Burkes expects this to be at least a 5-year plan. He states it is not the construction of the buildings as they were made simply with corrugated metal and cypress. But it will be the shifting of the earth in preparation of the expansion, as well as, building the infrastructure, including internet cables and security systems to keep everything hidden, similar to what Disney does. Also, making sure everything is done in adherence to regulations is quite time-consuming.
We look forward to providing updates on the progress of this historic restoration.
You can find the Richloam General Store, that looks as it was in 1922 and stocks the same products that one could find then, at 38219 Richloam Clay Sink Road in Webster 33597. Phone number 352-277-1503. It is one mile south of State Route 50 along Richloam Clay Sink Road, once the mainline between Tampa and Orlando.