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Melrose is an unincorporated community in Alachua, Bradford, Clay, and Putnam counties in the U.S. state of Florida. It lies approximately one hour's drive from Jacksonville and one half hour's drive from Gainesville.


Melrose was originally known as Shakerag. The name originated from the frequent horse races that took place in the area every Sunday afternoon. The competitors saw no need to waste ammunition in order to start a race, so in stead they shook a large white rag for the signal. Hence the name Shakerag. Around 1882 residents grew tired of the name, and decided to rename their community Melrose after the town in Scotland where many locals immigrated from.

Two Canadian women came to Melrose in 1889 and built a 125 room hotel. Three years later, both women were dead. C.P. Huffman acquired the property and ran the hotel for the next 15 years. The profitability of the hotel is unknown. In 1908 George C. Looney began renting the building and converted it to a military college. Looney owned another such college in Georgia. Its counterpart in Melrose was set to be named Phi Sigma College. 180 students originally enrolled, and things were looking good for the school. Unfortunately, eighteen months after it opened its doors, Phi Sigma burnt to the ground.[1]

In the late 1800s, the citrus industry thrived in the area. Local growers would bring their yearly harvest to Melrose, where it was loaded onto steam ships in lake Santa Fe. The ships would then steam from lake Santa Fe to lake Alto, and then lake Alto to the town of Waldo using man made canals. The citrus was then taken by rail across the United States. Unfortunately, in 1894 two devastating freezes hit the Melrose area and destroyed local groves. Growers then relocated to warmer areas in the central and southern parts of Florida.


Coordinates: 29°42′34″N 82°02′59″W / 29.70944°N 82.04972°W / 29.70944; -82.04972


  1. ^ Morris, Allen. Florida Place Names. Coral Gables, Fl.: University of Miami Press, 1974.


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