The history of Apollo Beach started in 1923 on land owned by the Dickman Family that was used annually for farming and grazing pasture. Much of the land was mangrove and low-elevation and was considered uninhabitable.
The Dickmans secured the services of an engineering firm in Miami, called "Radar Engineering" to design a subdivision including roads, canals, schools, recreation areas, and community services.
In the early 1950s Mr. Dickman negotiated the sale of the land to three gentlemen from New York: Turner, Dean and Clark. They named the land "Tampa Beach", believing the association with Tampa would attract interested persons more readily than a name which did not properly locate the area geographically.
Construction began on the Flamingo Canal near U.S. Highway 41, and proceeded toward Fairway Boulevard. It was their intention to extend the canal to Tampa Bay so as to achieve access to open water. The task became too large for the amount of capital they had invested and for the abilities of the persons involved and in 1956 they notified Mr. Dickman they could not go through with the project.
In 1957, Francis Corr, a retired businessman from Michigan, purchased the land. Mr. Corr renamed the area La Vida Beach. Legend has it that in 1958 Corr's wife Dorothy suggested a new name, Apollo Beach, for the area's greatest benefit: sunshine. Locals say the name was also inspired by the US space program that was becoming popular in Florida at that time. Mr. Corr started construction of 50 homes in the area between U.S. Highway 41 and Golf & Sea Boulevard.
In early 1958, Mr. Corr reached an agreement with Robert E. Lee, a South Carolina contractor, to join in the development. Robert E. Lee was to continue the dredging of canals and in exchange, was to receive parcels of land.
In the early 1960s, Francis Corr sold his company and the Apollo Beach land to a Miami Company known as Flora Sun Corporation. Flora Sun sold some of the land on the northern end to Tampa Electric Company for a power plant site on the land's northern boarder which is now the Big Bend power plant. Flora Sun failed in its obligations in the purchase of the land from the Corr family and about seven years later the family got the land back out of bankruptcy court.
In the mid-1960s, Francis Corr's son, Thomas, moved his young family to the area to continue work on the Apollo Beach project. Unfortunately, while the land was in bankruptcy proceedings from Flora Sun, the dredge and fill permits required to construct the canal system expired.
The Corr family continued to struggle with the development over the years, facing regulatory hurdles and tightening growth policy in Florida with the passage of the growth management act in 1972 and expanded policies in 1984.
Thomas Corr continued to develop the community and donated land for parks and schools and preserving hundreds of acres of mangrove swamps and environmental areas. He started a community bank, a chamber of commerce, civic clubs and festivals. Thomas Corr died in 1998. In 2006, Hillsborough County honored the work of Thomas Corr by naming the new elementary school on Big Bend Road the Thomas P. Corr Elementary School.
Today Apollo Beach is a thriving waterfront community with year-round boating, fishing, and other water activities. The estimated 55 miles of canals lead to Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico via underpass of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.