Inverness Heights

A drive through the Inverness Heights subdivision - just west of downtown - reveals a small network of quiet streets lined with single-family homes and a few apartments. The subdivision is within walking distance of schools, several restaurants and a few shopping plazas.

Along with these amenities, the neighborhood's Bryant Park tells of the connection to the man responsible for the way much of the area looks; a man so respected for his work and service that a major county roadway is named after him.

Establishing His Roots

Norvell Cullen Bryant was born Dec. 8, 1898 in Lakeland, FL. At the age of 16, Bryant began work with a phosphate prospecting crew in Florida. According to Pioneer Florida, after attending schools in Pasco, Polk and Sumter counties, he enrolled in the Hammel Business University in Akron, Ohio. Shortly after graduating, he volunteered for service in World War I. Norvell had plans to be in the Quartermaster Corps, receiving training at Stetson University; however, records show he was discharged from service in DeLand in 1918. He began a profession in life insurance and by 1925 obtained an Estate Brokers license. enabling him to start up his own general insurance and real estate brokerage office in Tampa.

Norvell Bryant was originally lured to Citrus County by hunting & fishing trips to the area; however, he also observed a potential for business. According to 1941 census records, the county's population was around 2,000 people. Bryant purchased 1,200 acres in Hernando to raise cattle. He also acquired 110 acres of land in the City of Inverness, which he developed into what is now Inverness Heights.

Reaching For New Heights

The original layout of the subdivision covered about a half-dozen or so blocks. In August 1958, Bryant addressed City Council about the development and to advise that the park included in the plans was for the entire community, not just for the new neighborhood. On April 26, 1963, the subdivision's plans were revised by the Moorhead Engineering Company of Ocala. The new layout called for 16 blocks consisting of 188 lots, including three reserved for commercial property and area for a park. The revised plat listed Bryant as the owner of the land, as well as the Realtor, builder and developer with eventually the F Avanzini Lumber Company taking over as builder & development of the subdivision. A well known name in the county, the Avanzini family remains in the building and real estate industry.

Among Bryant's accomplishments during his more than 50 years in real estate was president of the Hernando Civic Club, member of the Hernando Lions Club, director of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce (which formed in the late 1950's), Chamber president, and president of the West Coast Realtor's Association. Bryant was also on the board of advisors for the Withlacoochee Technical Institute (WTI), director of the local Red Cross, and member of the Citrus Cattlemen's Association.

For more than 13 years, Bryant pushed to get County Road 486 to connect between Hernando and Crystal River. His efforts were not lost. In fact his success doubled, as the connector roadway has gone from two to four lane. It's not surprising that CR486 was renamed to Norvell Bryant Highway.

The Neighborhood Today

The neighborhood is located between State Road 44 to the north, Druid Road to the south, Pleasant Grove Road to the west and Gardenia Drive to the east. Located in the area is Withlacoochee Technical Institute (WTI) and the Citrus County School Board offices.

For years access to Inverness Heights was limited as access from the east was only possible by traveling Highway 44 through downtown. In the early 1980's, the City constructed the Highlands Boulevard Extension. At first, the road was one-way for east bound traffic, but later was made a two-way road, improveing the mobility of residents in the area.

On warm afternoons, you might see students from WTI take their lunch break at Bryant Park. Today there is a variety of small businesses located on the northern boundary of the subdivision. Nearby attractions include Whispering Pines Park, the Florida Trail, the Lakes Region Public Library and campgrounds at Holder Mine and Mutual Mine off of County Road 581 (Pleasant Grove Road). Residents of The Heights are walking distance to the public school system, medical offices and Citrus Memorial Hospital.

Many of the houses in the subdivision were constructed in the 1970's. In 1996, the county discussed putting a public library in the neighborhood and eventually constructing the Lakes Region library at 1511 Druid Road. The neighborhood is a mix of retirees and working professionals. Most homes are owned, though several rental properties are mixed in with predominantly single-family homes. Several churches are just a few blocks away as well.