Stum’s Corner

Map showing Stum’s Corner location, before Rangeline Road was built.

Headed down Rangeline Road, you may never notice this stately old home. Located right where Church Avenue and Rangeline meet in Longwood, it was once one of the area’s preeminent landmarks. The house was built in 1930 by Ben and Clara Stum, who moved to Longwood in 1926.

Back then Rangeline Road did not exist and since travel was difficult over the sandy roads it was considered separate from Longwood. The Stum family owned about 700 acres and this home sat at the place where the road took a 90-degree angle: east to Longwood and north toward Markham. It was called Longwood Markham Road.

The Stum’s beautiful two-story home was anchored by a massive oak tree (even bigger than the one still existing in this picture). On that tree there were two hand-painted signs: one saying “Stum’s Corner” and the other a blue and white sign with an arrow that said “Longwoood” and pointed the way home. The tree was lit up with big red reflectors so that late-night travelers did not miss the turn and wind up slamming into the tree, which was in the middle of what is now Rangeline Road. Stum’s Corner was a welcome sign to all Longwood travelers headed out for a drive in the country; it told them they were almost home.

Eventually, the Stum family moved to Winter Haven, although they didn’t sell all of their land holdings until the early 1970s when a half dozen subdivisions popped up in the area.

Wetzel and Maxie Ball bought the beautiful country home–and it really was in the country then–in 1963. When they stumbled upon the place, it was so covered in weeds that they could barely see the house. But they did well to fix it up. Over the years the Balls cringed every time a new bulldozer came in to tear up more of the country they loved to build more homes.

But their house stood.

And so did the oak tree until 1981… so prominent was the big tree as a landmark a fight ensued when they wanted to eminent domain it when Rangeline Road was built to connect Stum’s Corner with 434. They won that fight and Rangeline was built with a curve to go around the tree, but eventually, it got so old and sprawling it was deemed a hazard and was torn down by officials.

The Balls lived in that house until their death… Maxie passed in 2005 and Wetzel lived to the age of 101 when he passed in 2009.

So next time you stop at the stop sign at Rangeline and Church, look to the west for the beautiful yellow home with a large sister oak to the one that once sat in the roadway. Remember the Ball and Stum families. And know that you have been to Stum’s Corner.

Charlie W Stum Follow Up

Charlie lived in Lakeland much of his adult life. He graduated from Florida Southern College in 1950. He served in the Army during World War II and Korea. He worked as a college administrator and was Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Winter Haven. He died in 2013 of complications of Alzhemiers.