Matt Jetton (pronounced “jet-tawn”) achieved local and national fame in the late 1950s as the developer of Original Carrollwood. His company, Sunstate Builders, purchased 325+ acres of citrus nursery land just seven miles north of the city of Tampa with a vision of creating housing to relieve crowding in South Tampa. Although South Tampa residents did not care for the rural surroundings of Carrollwood (“the land of lovely water”), Carrollwood was appreciated by the academia at the newly-built University of South Florida less than ten miles away. Many prestigious professors and administrators moved to Carrollwood including John Allen, USF’s first president.
By 1959, Carrollwood had become one of the foremost award-winning “subdivisions” in the area and boasted of amenities unheard of at the time, including air-conditioned housing, a planned school, neighborhood parks, lake access for all residents, and on-call handyman and repair services. The winding roads, cul-de-sacs, and lake views added even more charm to the young community.1960s pricing for homes ranged from $16,000 to $100,000, and vacant lots cost between $2,750 and $16,000.
Developing suburban communities was a common thread through the Jetton family. Matt Jetton has almost no memory of his grandfather, Matthew Jetton, yet he saw the result of his work. Four decades earlier, Jetton’s grandfather helped expand the Tampa metropolitan area as one of the developers of western Hyde Park, today known as Historic Hyde Park. One of that neighborhood’s original streets is named for the Jetton family.
The senior Matthew Jetton came to Tampa from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the 1880s. His middle name was Murfree, after his hometown, and he was often called “M.M.” He first settled in Tampa Heights and worked in the hardware and lumber businesses. Later he became a contractor and co-founded the Jetton-Hudnall Lumber Company. He also formed the Jetton-Dekle Lumber Company with Lee Dekle, another Historic Hyde Park developer whose name appears on a local street.
Matthew Jetton had a lumber mill near Kennedy Boulevard and Rome Avenue. He was a member of the Elks Lodge and a founding member of the Tampa Board of Trade, the forerunner to the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Matthew Jetton died in 1931 at age 71.
Matt Jetton was born and raised in Tampa. During the mid 1980s, he served on the Board of County Commissioners and is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Florida Home Builders Association. Some of his family resides in Original Carrollwood including his grandson Matt Jetton III. Matt Jetton is now retired and resides in Carrollwood Village (developed by Jetton in the 1970s after Carrollwood was off and running).