Lee Bronson Skinner (1861-1936)
Hillsborough County Citrus Concentrate Plant
Florida State Horticultural Society
Growers & Shippers League
Lee Bronson Skinner was born in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1861. Moving with his family to Hillsborough County, Florida, in 1883, the Skinners pursued citrus growing with vigor. The Skinners were the first to use machines in the citrus industry. The citrus grader, along with other machinery they invented, eventually led to a nationally important farm machinery manufacturing plant and they would also pioneer the first citrus concentration plant in Hillsborough County.
Skinner’s manufactured equipment sold in Florida, California, and as far away as Palestine. He was also active in the establishment of the Florida state horticultural society and an early president of the Growers and shippers league of Florida. At a meeting of the FSHS in May 1926, Skinner advocated increased marketing of Florida citrus in an effort to increase public demand for Florida citrus products.
Skinner’s wealth and influence derived from the citrus industry, helped rejuvenate and modernize the City of Tampa in the early 1900s. In 1911 his company constructed the Hillsborough, the largest commercial hotel in Florida for that time. He also used his influence to attract railroad facilities to enhance the shipping of citrus to new locations throughout the nation. A consummate business man, Skinner became part owner of the Tampa Tribune. Skinner remained active in the citrus industry throughout his life and until his death in 1936 remained as president of L.B. Skinner manufacturing company, a builder of citrus packinghouse equipment.