Oldest House in Tampa for Sale

Oldest house in Tampa

Oldest house in TampaMany thanks to James Singleton for letting TPI and others at the Preservation Roundtable meeting know that what may be the oldest house in Tampa is up for sale. Located at 3210 E. 8th Avenue, the house was built in 1842, at the tail end of the Second Seminole War. It was originally built by a Dr. Stringer, and in 1914, bought by Imbodin Stalnaker who had it disassembled and transported to the town of Gary, where it remains today. The Gary Post Office was established in 1898 and the official plat was filed in 1903. The City of Gary was incorporated between 1915 to 1919 and was annexed by the City of Tampa in 1923.

The house has been altered over the years but the overall form is intact. The asking price has been reduced to $22,000. Ideally it would be purchased by someone who appreciates the history of the house and would restore it.

For some interesting research on this house, please see this post on the Tampanian blog.

Threatened Historic Kress Block

Newberry and Kress Historic Buildings

Newberry and Kress Historic Buildings

At its Thursday, August 26, 9:00 a.m. Regular Meeting, the Tampa City Council will vote on whether to approve a resolution that will dissolve an agreement between the City and Kress Square, the owner of the block that includes the Landmarked Kress Building and the adjacent Woolworth Newberry Buildings. At the request of Mayor Pam Iorio, the City and the property owners have worked together to draft a Mutual Termination of a Memorandum Summarizing Development Review Process for the Kress Block.

The 2006 Memorandum is an agreement between the City and the property owners that summarized the specific criteria and that review process to be applied in carrying out the terms of the block’s zoning. The zoning conditions for this block state that the northwestern corner storefront portion of the façade of the JJ Newberry Building, which fronts both Franklin Street and Cass Street, and the southwestern corner storefront portion of the façade of the Woolworth Building, which fronts both Franklin Street and Polk Street, both would be incorporated into the Kress Square Development, effectively preserving the historic façades of these buildings. The 2006 Memorandum details the distinctive features of the façades and outlines how they are to be preserved.

The façades of the Woolworth and Newberry Buildings were designated as Landmarks in March 2006, along with the Kress Building, but the City Council rescinded the façades’ designations as part of the 2006 Memorandum agreement. This was a compromise agreement proposed by the owners and agreed to by City Council, to the dismay of many preservation proponents. While façade preservation has been a trend around the nation over the past decade, it is less preferable than the preservation and reuse of the entire historic building. The Kress Building remains protected by its Landmark status.

The Art Deco façades of the Woolworth and Newberry Buildings are unique in downtown Tampa. Along with the Woolworth Building’s architectural significance, it is notable for its role in African-American history. The Woolworth lunch counter, along with the counter at the W.T. Grant store, was the site of civil rights sit-in protests in 1960.

Note that this is not a public hearing item on the Council’s agenda, so those wishing to speak to this item should be present for the public comments at the beginning of the meeting. For more information about the City Council, including current members contact information and agendas, go to http://www.tampagov.net/dept_City_Council/.

For local news coverage of this topic please see the following articles:
Tampa council to revisit issue of Woolworth, Newberry buildings
Preservation of Woolworth facade sparks a battle
Long hard road: The evolution of Tampa’s Franklin Street
Free Kress block of harmful mandates
The cost of keeping facades
Kress Owners Ordered To Fix Site
Crumbling Kress Building Stressed By Code Violations

National Trust’s 2010 11 Most Endangered Places

The National Trust America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 200 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. Whether these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. At times, that attention has garnered public support to quickly rescue a treasured landmark; while in other instances, it has been the impetus of a long battle to save an important piece of our history. The National Trust is now accepting applications for the 2010 List until January 8, 2010.

The list provides endangered resources with local and national exposure as well as support from the National Trust offices. If you know of a Tampa Bay area resource that is threatened, application information can be found on the National Trust website. TPI will gladly provide a letter of support for local applications.

Imminently endangered but available as a reconstruction: Addison Mizner’s La Ronda


A grand historic resource by one of Florida’s most important historic architects, Addison Mizner is available through deconstruction/ reconstruction. The Mediterranean Revival mansion La Ronda, was Addison Mizner’s final architectural commission in 1929, and is presently located in the Philadelphia Main Line area.The building is 17,041 Sq Feet with beautiful gardens, terraces and fountains. It features 51 rooms with graceful archways, balconies and staircases, cut coral keystones, deeply carved ceiling tiles, cast concrete details, antique stair treads, garden wall capstones, a hidden bar, many elevated hearth fireplaces… There are 200 photographs available as well as the floor plan, specs and drawings in Mizner’s own hand. The building is presently completely intact and in exquisite condition.

Every heritage feature that can be reasonably saved will be carefully and meticulously handled for preservation opportunities. The primary goal is to find a permanent refuge for its elements, a refuge which will hopefully keep as many elements together as architectural artistry can devise. The highest hope is to locate a steward who will rescue all salvageable architectural components for the purpose of reconstructing the glory of this architectural majesty in its entirety. The second choice will be to preserve entire rooms for glorious reconstruction in a re-conceptualization. For information, please contact Jona Harvey of the Architectural Salvage Network.

National Trust Announces 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

The annual list of the nation’s most threatened significant historic resources came out today. A Florida resource once again made the list: Miami Marine Stadium, Virginia Key, Fla.— Completed in 1963, Miami Marine Stadium is both a South Florida landmark and an icon of modern design. Built entirely of poured concrete and featuring a dramatically cantilevered folded-plate roof, the stadium is a sentimental favorite of many Miami residents. After sustaining damage during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the stadium, a prime target for developers, closed and has since suffered from years of deterioration, vandalism and neglect.

To see information about this and the other ten resources and to find out what you can do to help, go to the National Trust blog announcement.

The Fitzgerald Building

Port Tampa City, known earlier as Passage Point or Black Point, was established in 1893 at the end of a Henry Plant Railroad spur line. Early Port Tampa history revolved around the Plant System of railroads, hotels and steamships, serving as a steamship port to Cuba as well as home to several hotels. Absorbed by the City of Tampa in 1961, Port Tampa still has a small town atmosphere secluded from Tampa’s city life. The area retains much of its historic charm with brick streets, 1926 marble Port Tampa City Library, quaint churches and historic homes. In addition, the area capitalizes on its environmental assets with Tampa’s Greenways Trail and Picnic Island, featuring a beach, boat ramp, fishing pier, and bird sanctuary.

Within this setting is a threatened piece of architecture inherently tied with Port Tampa history known as the FitzGerald Building. The building was built by Captain James W. FitzGerald, a stockholder of the Peoples Line Steamers and Superintendent of Plant’s steamship line. FitzGerald was captain of the steamboat h. b. plant from 1880 to 1886.

Captain FitzGerald arrived in the area that was to be Port Tampa City in 1885 and partnered with Charles W. Prescott of Erie, Pennsylvania. Together they purchased a section of land that they platted with the streets and blocks of the town, then chartered as Port Tampa City. Captain FitzGerald and Mr. Prescott, along with sea captain Henry G. “Harry” Warner, also formed the Port Tampa Building and Loan Association.According to City of Tampa property records, the FitzGerald Building was constructed in 1890. Approximately 1,300 sf, the brick building is two-stories high and has a pressed metal cornice. All indications are that it was built as the Captain’s place of business, although no official documentation has been found. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. map of 1899 depicted the footprint of the FitzGerald Building as it stands today.

Mrs. FitzGerald died in 1904, Captain FitzGerald died in 1909, and the heirs retained ownership of the property until 1944. Thus, the FitzGerald family owned this particular piece of land for 51 years. The building then went through a succession of owners who utilized the building for various commercial and residential uses. One owner, with plans for a nightclub, gutted the building interior, but never completed the remodeling. The current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Devoe, purchased the Fitzgerald Building in 1976, to use for equipment storage for their contracting business. The building has been vacant since the Devoe’s retirement and is now in need of stabilization to prevent further deterioration.

A developer planned to purchase the property a couple of years ago, with intentions of demolishing the building; however due to the historic significance of the building, the demolition request was denied. The FitzGerald Building is the oldest surviving business structure in Port Tampa City and is worthy of preservation. The Devoes acknowledge the historic significance of the property and are supportive of the efforts to preserve the building; however, they are eager to sell the property. Local residents are working with the Devoes and community preservation groups to find ways to save this important historic Port Tampa building.

For more information, contact Carol Curtiss at Cabacur@aol.com or (813)831-1985.

Article provided by Carol Curtiss.