Who is Mother Meres?
The story behind the mural on Pinellas Avenue is as compelling as the brightly-colored artwork itself.
According to a 2010 Tampa Bay Times feature, "Mother Meres" began life as Amelia Petzold Meres, born in Germany in 1845 before emigrating to the United States with her family at age 5. She moved to Tarpon Springs with her husband in 1882 and ran the Ferns Hotel on what is now the southwest corner of Tarpon and Pinellas avenues.
Among her many contributions to the community, the Times reports, Mother Meres:
- Planted the cycads that gave Tarpon Springs' Cycadia Cemetery its name
- Held the town's first Christmas party
- Helped plant trees to beautify Tarpon Springs' streets
- Provided the seed for the famous kapok tree that still stands at the former Kapok Tree Inn on McMullen-Booth Road
Meres' garden became a public gathering space after her death in 1923 — until the park was almost entirely replaced by a parking lot in the 1950s.
In 2010, on the 84th anniversary of Meres' death, a group of community-minded gardeners know as the Garden Fairies, working with the Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce commemorated the mural as a gift to the city.
The mural reflects Meres' love of plants and nature, depicting her holding a boquet of flowers and watching over the site of her garden and her community.
Have a great story about the city's history or have a suggestion for a future installment of "Exploring Tarpon Springs"? Post a comment below or consider blogging about it on Patch.