Old City Hall, East Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa’s first City Hall was constructed in 1890 but rapid growth meant that by 1912 the building was too small. The City Council ran a competition to design a new City Hall. Local architects Bayard C Bonfoey and M Leo Elliott won the competition with an Art Deco design that resembled the layers of a wedding cake. The design had a 3-storey main block which acted as the base for an 8-story central office tower on which stood a clock tower. The city did not have enough funds available to purchase a clock for the clock tower, but local resident Hortense Oppenheimer lead a campaign that raised money for it. Construction work commenced in July 1914 and it was completed in August 1915. Although it is known as Old City Hall, there is no ‘new’ City Hall. The building is still the home of the City Council, Council Chambers, City Clerk’s Office, Legal Department, Audit Department and some Human Resources Offices. The building was extensively renovated in 2017.
Sacred Heart Church, N Florida Ave.
One of the oldest churches in Tampa is Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The first church on this site was a simple frame church erected in 1859. As Tampa grew the simple church became too small, so two wings were added in 1883 nearly doubling the capacity of the building. The extended building was not destined to have a long life because the following year the railroad arrived soon followed by the opening of the Tampa Bay Hotel. They triggered explosive growth and by 1897 the extended frame church could no longer cope. In 1898 work started on the construction of the current church. Designed in the Romanesque style by Texas architect Nicholas J Clayton, it opened in 1905. The church has 70 stained glass windows all designed and manufactured by Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich in Germany.
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Ybor City Museum
Ybor City was founded in 1885 by a group of cigar manufacturers led by Vicente Martinez-Ybor. It was an independent town for a short time but in 1887 it was annexed by Tampa. The cigar factories attracted Cuban and Spanish immigrants. They were followed by immegrants from other countries who set up shops and other businesses to support Ybor City residents. Until the Great Depression hit, Ybor City boomed. After World War II, mechanisation did away with many jobs in the cigar factories then falling demand for cigars speeded up the rate of decline. Ybor City has a wealth of historic buildings and Ybor City Museum tells the story of the city. It is housed in the former Ferlita Bakery building dating from 1923. Click Tab 2 to see the Bread Ovens inside the museum,
Cuban Cigar Makers' Houses, Ybor City Museum
The decline of the cigar industry hit Ybor City hard. Nowadays only the J C Newman cigar factory remains open. The Ybor City Museum may be housed in a former bakery, but the days when the city saw itself as the ‘Cigar Capital of the World’ are not overlooked. A row of cigar makers houses has been preserved. These were build by cigar factories to house their workers and were known as 'Casas de Piedra' (Stove Houses). Click on Tab 2 to see the Kitchen of a, Cuban Cigar Maker's House.
Former Tampa Bay Hotel
Henry Plant built eight tourist hotels along his railroad. Designed in the The Moorish Revival style, the Tampa Bay Hotel was the largest and the most lavish. Architect J A Wood was responsible for the four storey 511 room hotel, including its 12 towers with bulbous domes and cupolas. When it opened in 1891 its grounds extending to 60 hectares (150 acres). It had its own a golf course, tennis courts, billiards tables, croquet pitch, and a racetrack. Guests were could also indulge in wild game hunting, fishing, sailing, rowing and canoeing. Plant died in 1899 and in 1905 his heirs sold the hotel and 20 hectares (50 acres) of land to the City of Tampa. From its opening the hotel attracted the rich and famous, but the Great Depression hit the tourist trade hard and the hotel closed in 1932. In 1933 the city leased most of the building to Tampa Bay Junior College who moved into the building and used the space available to grow into the University of Tampa. The south wing of the building was retained by the city to establish a museum to preserve part of the hotel. Originally called the Tampa Municipal Museum, it is now called the Henry B Plant Museum. Click Tab 2 to see the Tampa Bay Hotel Writing & Reading Room in the Henry B Plant Museum or Tab 3 to see a Parlor Suite preserved in the museum.
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Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon visited the Tampa Bay area in 1513, but the Spanish focused their attention on settling eastern Florida, leaving the west coast largely untouched. After Britain took control of Florida in 1763, Tampa Bay was renamed Hillsborough Bay after Lord Hillsborough. The Spanish regained control in 1783 but still did not colonise the west coast. The US took control of Florida from Spain in 1821 and an early priority was to secure its new territory against invaders and to control the Indian population. In 1824 the US built Fort Brooke at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. Settlers soon arrived and the town of Tampa was incorporated in 1855. Fort Brooke was occupied by Confederate troops during the Civil War until May 1864 when Union troops arrived and took both the fort and the town. In 1880 phosphates were discovered near the town creating an industry that continues to this day, while in 1883 Fort Brooke was decommissioned. Henry B. Plant's 1884 railroad extension to the Hillsborough River not only provided a means to transport phosphates but it also brought tourists to the area, to stay in the lavish hotels that Plant built along the line such as the Tampa Bay Hotel. In 1886 Vicente Martinez Ybor established a cigar factory in Tampa, creating an area with a distinct Hispanic flavour which became and remains known as Ybor City. In 1914 Tampa was connected to St Petersburg by the worlds first scheduled air service, using a small flying boat that carried only a pilot and one passenger. The in-flight service must have been very limited!
Italian Club, Ybor City
Social clubs were set up to serve the different immigrant communities in Ybor City. Italians had arrived in Tampa in the late 1880’s by 1894 they had founded an Italian Club. In addition to being a social hub, it also gave cultural, educational, medical and financial aid to the families of members who had died. The first permanent club house opened in 1912 but was destroyed by fire in 1915. A new Italian Club building opened in 1918, its design inspired by the ancient Italo Greek temples tin the Agrigento area in southern Sicily. The Italian Club remains active to this day. Click Tab 2 to see the Tampa Cuban Club which has even more wires in front of it than the Italian Club!