Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Committee Forming

In December 2011, the County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) adopted the “Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Program” to promote historic preservation, heritage tourism, and related economic development within Hillsborough County (both incorporated and unincorporated areas). Available grant funds will be awarded to selected applicants on a minimum of 1:1 matching basis, not to exceed an award of more than of $250,000 per applicant, per project in any county budget year. For more info on the grant see Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Program.

Hillsborough County Commissioners are now seeking residents to serve on several County citizen advisory boards and councils. Residents interested in seeking appointment must be registered voters in Hillsborough County. These are voluntary positions, and members serve without compensation. Applicants may apply to more than one board, but may only serve on one board at a time.

The deadline for applying is February 9, 2012. Appointments will be scheduled for a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners in March or April, 2012.

An application is available in the Commissioners’ reception area on the second floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa; by calling the Boards and Councils Coordinator at 813-272-5826; or on the County’s website at: www.hillsboroughcounty.org. Click on the “County Commission” link on the left-hand side of the page, then the “Advisory Boards and Committees” sublink. The “Application Questionnaire For County Appointments” is in the middle of the page. The form can be filled out, and then scanned and emailed, faxed, hand-delivered or mailed.

If you apply to a Board that requires a background check, you must also submit a Background Investigation Disclosure and Authorization Form, which also is available on the website. Forms must be signed and dated. Additional directions for submission are listed on the form.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION CHALLENGE GRANT PROGRAM, GRANT REVIEW COMMITTEE–newly created committee that will review grant applications submitted in response to two annual grant application periods for the County’s Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Program.  Committee will rank and prioritize the applications and make funding recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners.

There are nine positions.  Terms are for two years.  No member shall serve more than two successive terms.  At least three members must be residents of the cities of Temple Terrace, Tampa and Plant City, with the reminder of the members residing in the unincorporated area of Hillsborough County.  Members should have expertise in one or more of the following areas: historic preservation; architecture; heritage tourism, destination marketing; marketing and economic development; landscape architecture; and interior design.  Meeting schedule: To be determined.

For more information, contact Luann Finley, Director of Board Services, at 813-272-5826.

Hillsborough County Historic Preservation Matching Grant Program

Hillsborough County’s Historic Preservation Matching Grant Program is designed to financially assist owners of not-for-profit designated local Landmarks (including private homes) in unincorporated Hillsborough County in performing exterior preservation and restoration activities. This matching grant is intended to encourage property owners of resources listed in the County’s Historic Resources Inventory to seek Landmark designation for their property, and to promote the preservation and restoration of Landmarks.

Eligible property owners may submit one grant application per year for each property, requesting a minimum amount of $1,500 and a maximum amount of $25,000 per application. The grant awarded cannot exceed one-half of the project’s overall costs, and property owners are required to match 100% of the grant awarded in cash or like-kind services (material and/or professionally rendered labor). Grant recipients are required to complete the project within one year of the award agreement date.

Projects qualified for the matching grant include but are not limited to: foundation walls, exterior siding, windows and exterior doors, roof repair or replacement, structural work, removal/disposal of exterior lead paint, and preventative maintenance, including termite damage. Architectural and engineering services for qualified projects may be included as a reasonable part of the overall approved project. Qualified projects must comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.

Contact the County’s Historic Preservation Planner in at (813) 272-5920 for more information regarding qualified projects and for an application packet. Applications received before July 31 and reviewed by the Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB) prior to September 30 may be considered for the following fiscal year, which begins October 1. Applications may be received for consideration during the current fiscal year; however, applicants should be aware that the obligations of the County are subject to the availability of funds appropriated annually for this grant program. The current budget includes $50,000 for this fiscal year.

Applications should be submitted to the Hillsborough County Historic Preservation Planner for an initial determination of eligibility. Eligible applications are forwarded to the HRRB for review and evaluation. The HRRB recommends successful applications to the Board of County Commissioners for award approval.Upon completion of the project, an inspection is made based on scope of work outlined in the grant award agreement to ensure compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. The Planning and Growth Management Department will authorize one payment disbursing the grant award to the applicant upon project completion. Documentation of project expenses (including the owner’s matching portion) will be required prior to grant disbursement.

Log Cabins in Hillsborough County

Log cabin construction in the United States dates to the middle of the 17th century, when Swedish explorers applied their Scandinavian construction techniques to the Mid-Atlantic. These buildings were constructed as temporary shelters, making use of the readily available lumber in the wilderness. German settlers also brought their own log construction techniques to the United States in the early 18th century, and are credited with popularizing the use of square-hewn log timbers. As immigrants passed through the Mid-Atlantic and spread throughout the country, they took the log cabin style with them.

While not a common architectural style in Florida, historic log construction is usually seen in proximity to the state’s cypress swamps. The cypress harvesting boomed in the first half of the 20th century, largely due to the railroad expansion of that time and the increased ability for logging companies to ship their product. Cypress was a popular construction material due to its imperviousness to moisture and insects. A Cypress Log Cabin was featured at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair as part of the Century of Progress Homes of Tomorrow Exposition.

Alex Shaw, the state dairy inspector for Florida’s west coast, and his wife Beatrice constructed their log cabin in the 1930s on the northwestern bank of Lake Byrd in Lutz. The Shaws built the cabin using local cypress and Hillsborough River limestone rock. The Shaw family moved to Tallahassee in 1947, and Alex Shaw was appointed the director of the dairy division of the Florida Department of Agriculture. The Shaw family maintained the cabin as a summer destination until 1971, when they sold it to Russell Crumpton, a neighbor, who deeded it to his son and daughter-in-law, Danny and Joni Crumpton. The log cabin was deeded to a trust in 1987, and it was sold in 2004 to Bella Vita Development.

In 2003, Bella Vita rezoned the property to a Planned Development District for a subdivision of 13 single-family homes. The conditions of the rezoning required the Shaw’s log cabin to be relocated for preservation. The cabin was disassembled, log by log, in 2004. Each log was measured and tagged prior to disassembly. After an extensive search for a new location in a historically appropriate context, the log cabin was rebuilt at the site of the Learning Gate Community School in 2005. Some of the original materials, including the chinking, roofing and flooring materials, and some of the cypress logs and limestone rocks, were replaced with in-kind materials during the log cabin’s reconstruction at its new location.

The cross-shaped log cabin sits on a pier foundation of concrete blocks covered with limestone rock. This building is constructed from horizontally-laid saddle-notched cypress logs and is topped by an intersecting gable roof. The original tin roof is no longer intact, and the roof is currently covered with composition roll roofing. Fenestration consists of original eight-over-eight double-hung wood-sash and four-light paired wood casement windows set in wood surrounds. An exterior chimney, constructed from concrete block and clad in limestone rock, is located on the north side of the building.

The Shaw Family/Learning Gate Community School Log Cabin is one of the earliest surviving log cabins in the area to exhibit few non-historic exterior alterations, and the building retains its historic physical integrity. Through the use of local cypress and limestone, the log cabin exhibits construction materials and design adaptive to the Florida environment. The log cabin has an historic association with the area’s early settlement and social history, and it is one of the few remaining buildings associated with the Shaw family. As such, it is a good representation of Hillsborough County’s settlement heritage in a rural setting and may be considered eligible for local Landmark designation.

Article provided by Elaine Lund

Giants Camp Cabins Move to Camp Bayou

Cabins at the Giant’s Camp in Gibsonton being relocated to Camp Bayou in Ruskin by the Ruskin Community Development Foundation. Two cabins will be moved to Camp Bayou, and one is being preserved on site by Mosaic.

Giants Camp Cabin #4 Moves to Camp Bayou, Ruskin Florida

Eastern Hillsborough County Post Office Towns

On July 22, 2008, the Board of County Commissioners designated the Knowles House, a two-story, symmetrical Frame Vernacular-style house, as a historic Landmark. The circa 1915 Knowles House was constructed from local heart pine timber by Robert H. Knowles. This house is clad in clapboard siding and is topped by a pyramidal hipped roof. A hipped roof also covers the screened main entrance porch, which wraps around the south and west sides of the building. Vernacular houses with square plans were commonly built with pyramidal roofs during the early decades of the 20th century. These roofs required more complex framing, but were less expensive to build since they needed fewer long-spanning rafters. Through the use of the heart pine timber and the incorporation of a sleeping porch and a wraparound porch in the design, the Knowles House exhibits construction materials and design adaptive to the Florida environment.

Robert’s father, Henry Marion Knowles, was appointed “Postmaster at Oaklawn, in the County of Hillsboro, State of Florida” by the Postmaster General of the United States of America on June 10, 1902. In 1908, the post office was renamed after the Knowles family. When Henry died in 1910, his son Robert H. Knowles, one of eight children, took over the Postmaster position. The Knowles post office closed on June 15, 1915, and the postal service was moved to the nearby Valrico post office. Knowles appeared on a 1917 map from Mawson’s Geographic Manual and New Atlas and on a 1920 U.S. Railroad Administration map.

The Knowles post office was one of many in Hillsborough County that is no longer extant. One of the earliest post offices in the County was the Alafia office, established in 1855. The Alafia community was initially settled through the Armed Occupation Act of 1842. Fort Alafia, a garrison and supply depot, was established in 1849, and the army constructed a crude road from Fort Alafia to Fort Brooke, contributing to the growth of the community. Fort Alafia was closed by 1859, but the community continued to grow, in part due to the lumber industry. The Alafia post office was discontinued and reestablished several times until 1920, the same year that Alafia’s Warnell Lumber and Veneering Company closed, and the mail finally was routed to Durant.

In eastern Hillsborough County, one of the most enduring communities has been Brandon. The Brandon post office was established in 1890, with Victoria M. Brandon as the first postmaster. It owes its success in part to its proximity to the railroad. Other communities along rail lines also prospered, at least for some period of time. The last part of the nineteenth century saw a boom in railroad construction in Florida, and with it, a population surge. Between 1880 and 1886, 1,200 miles of railroad track were laid in Florida. In 1880, Florida’s population of approximately 270,000 resided predominantly north of the Tampa Bay area. By 1890, the rail lines extended south of Charlotte Harbor and Jupiter Inlet.

In 1883, Henry B. Plant connected the South Florida Railroad from Lakeland to Port Tampa. Post offices at Mango, (est. 1880), Seffner (est. 1884), Sparkman (est. 1884), and Sydney (est. 1882) were located along this rail line. Mango and Seffner remain identifiable communities today. The Sydney office was renamed “Cork” in 1884, and its name was changed again to Dover in 1890. The 1891 plat of Dover centered on the rail corridor, and the community rapidly became known as a shipping hub for nearby farms.

Another community in eastern Hillsborough County to change its name early in its existence was Fish Hawk. The Fish Hawk post office was established in February 1902, with Sarah T. Boyett as the postmaster. Two months later, Fish Hawk was renamed after the postmaster’s husband, Thomas Boyett.

The Florida Central & Peninsular system completed its rail line from Plant City to Tampa in 1890. This line ran south of the South Florida Railroad, through the communities of Turkey Creek, Sidney, Valrico, Brandon, and Limona. Of these communities, Limona was the earliest with a post office, established 1878. The post offices at Sidney, Valrico, and Brandon were established in the same year that the Florida Central & Peninsular rail came through, and the Turkey Creek office was established two years later. Other communities in eastern Hillsborough County, like Keysville, Hopewell, Lillibridge, and Welcome, prospered along the rail lines built to serve the lumber, timber, and phosphate industries.

Communities large enough to require a post office also sprang up along the rivers, which provided a transportation network well before the arrival of the railroad. A post office was established at Peru, on the south bank of the Alafia River, in 1879. Peru experienced substantial growth when phosphates were discovered along the river and the Peruvian Phosphate Company built a plant on the north side of the river. However, river mining proved to be less lucrative than land mining of phosphate. The post office was shut in 1900, and the mail was routed through the Riverview office, which had been established in 1891. Riverview thrived, mainly because of the lack of a bridge across the Alafia River to Peru. A bridge was constructed in 1901, and by the 1920s Riverview had expanded to both sides of the river and consumed Peru.

Article by Elaine Lund

From the Open Porch of The Nest

Photo by Gregory Walden

In 1992 the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners passed a Historic Preservation Ordinance, and in September of 1993 recognized and designated the County’s first historic Landmarks. Among the very first was the Moseley Homestead, affectionately called The Nest. It was designated for its adaptation to the Florida climate and as an outstanding Florida vernacular house surrounded by diverse vegetation. It is interesting to look back and see that this designation stands today as valid as it did then and to see how much the past can illuminate the present and the future. The Nest is now under the auspices of Timberly Trust, Inc., a nonprofit organization set up to care for it and carry out its mission of education and preservation. For a peep into this land the following is taken from a recent letter:

“From the open porch of The Nest, a unique historic Florida vernacular homestead dating from 1886, you can look out into the native woods of old Florida, hear red birds chirp, see a zebra butterfly, or watch the sun’s long beams make patterns against the walls. Reflecting on this house reminds us once again how much we can use the past and how uplifting that trip can be. For here are represented wise uses of energy efficient ideas. The house is built up off the ground, with high ceilings, cross ventilation, corner windows, high vents, sunscreens, and above all a large central open porch, open in four directions to catch any breeze on a hot day. With the increase of interest in saving energy, and the economy on everyone’s mind, ideas implemented in the design of this house built in 1886, have much to teach us about sustainable design.

For these reasons and for the beauty and history of the place, visitors, faculty and architectural students from the University of South Florida come to study the house and experience it and the diverse native vegetation surrounding it. Combined with adaptation to the Florida climate are decorative ideas influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, predominately exemplified by the wall covering of the main room. It is called The Palm, so named for the covering made from the native palmetto fiber and decorated with a vine motif and serving also as an insulation element. The house and interiors were designed by Julia Daniels Moseley, the artistic wife of Charles Scott Moseley. He was a notable watch inventor of the 19th century who settled here in 1882.

Julia’s idea for the house was that of letting the outside in and enjoying and taking full advantage of the Florida climate. That she achieved this is distinctively shown here. You can read the early history of The Nest in our book “Come to my Sunland”, published by the University Press of Florida. The Nest is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places and is a Hillsborough County Historic Landmark.

Our ongoing programs include preservation and management of the property as well as gathering of historical data on the house and its surrounding community. Preservation and interpretation are key to all we do. Recently we have been reviewing the status of tentative land use management plans for the native growth around The Nest and guiding tours of architectural graduate students from the University of South Florida.

As a result of our educational work, we have inspired a graduate student to do a Master of Architecture thesis on Florida vernacular houses using passive air cooling and other energy saving methods. We helped another graduate student expand an oral history program into detailed history of Limona and the Delaney Creek water system. We have provided information to historian James Denham of Lakeland Southern College on Victoria Brandon, who in 1890 gave 40 acres to establish Brandon. This resulted in a chapter on a book of notable Florida and Georgia women by historian Cantor Brown. We worked with Alexander Ratensky, formerly Dean of the University Of South Florida School Of Architecture, to save old glass negatives tentatively identified as in the Limona area. We have savored the remarks of young visitors who described The Nest’s canopied entrance drive as the “Time Tunnel”, and of another who asked, “Is this a rain forest?””

The Timberly Trust Inc. is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to preserving The Nest and its significant historic natural landscape. Donations large or small are extremely important for us to maintain our 501(c)(3) status and would be greatly appreciated. All contributions add to the test for community support that the IRS reviews. With the support of people like you we can continue to keep The Nest’s heritage reaching out in these challenging times. If you would like to make a donation please contact Martha Sherman at mshermanarchitect@msn.com.

Article submitted by Julia Moseley