Historic Harlem Academy Marker Dedication

Hillsborough County Public Schools and the Historic Harlem Academy Alumni invite you to the Historic Harlem Academy Marker Dedication at 4 p.m. Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 506 E. Harrison St., Tampa, FL 33602. A reception will follow at the Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center located at 901 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Please RSVP to Kristin Jernigan kjernigan@sdhc.us or 813-272-4055.

The historic Harlem Academy, known as “The Mother of African-American Schools,” was the first public school erected for African-American children in Tampa.

The first classes were held in 1868 in the Hillsborough County Courthouse. In the early 1870s, the Freedmen’s Bureau financed what became known as School No.2. In 1889, a new building was constructed at the comer of Harrison and Morgan Streets, and the school was officially designated as the Harlem Academy. The goal of Harlem Academy was to provide a quality education for its students, and to encourage them to learn within and outside the classroom and to continue on to higher education.

In 1892, Harlem Academy was destroyed in a fire. Thomas McKnight and other members of Tampa’s African-American community raised funds to rebuild the school. St. Paul AME and other churches provided space, until a new building was completed in 1895. This structure was replaced by a brick building in 1912. Many prominent African-American citizens were involved with the school. Christina A. Meacham and Andrew J. Ferrell, Jr., once principals of Harlem, had schools in Hillsborough County named in their honor.

The Harlem Academy closed in 1964, thus completing its ninety-six year contribution to the education of African-Americans in Tampa. Although the physical structure was later demolished, the heart of Harlem Academy lives on in the teachers, students and staff that graced its classrooms and halls.

Preservation Banner Awards Deadline


REMINDER: The Tampa Preservation Preservation Award application is February 29, 2009. For an application form and more information go to http://9ff.520.myftpupload.com/tampa_preservation,_inc_002.htm. Since 1982, Tampa Preservation, Inc. Has been recognizing significant contributions to the preservation of Tampa’s historic resources through our Annual Award Program. TPI invites members of the community to submit nominations for outstanding historic preservation projects, programs and achievements by individuals and organizations.

Tampa Preservation is on Facebook

Hoping to spread the positive word about how historic preservation efforts help the Tampa Bay community, TPI now has its own Fan Page on Facebook. Updates to this blog, as well as upcoming events and news are available on the Fan Page. As a fun side, TPI has also created a Gift Application for Facebook called Tampa Treats. Through this app you can send historic postcard images of Tampa Bay area landmarks to you friends for fun and a bit of nostalgia. If you enjoy social networking on Facebook, please become a Fan and join in the pro-preservation discussion!

TPI Website Updates

In an effort to provide easier access to information, we have made several improvements to the TPI website. First, check out the Links page which now has more, and hopefully better organized, links to preservation-related local, state and federal government sites as well as preservation non-profit organizations. We have also added useful links to sites offering historic photographs, maps, and restoration and renovation advice.

We have also added a new Resources page offering preservation books and magazines for sale through Amazon.com. We have selected some of our favorites, including Bungalow Kitchens, A Guide to Historic Tampa, and The Old House Journal Guide to Restoration along with subscriptions to American Bungalow and This Old House. Sales through the website link help generate revenue for TPI, so please consider making a purchase.

2009 Preservation Awards

The application for the 2009 Tampa Preservation Awards is now available. Since 1982, Tampa Preservation, Inc. has been recognizing significant contributions to the preservation of Tampa Bay area historic resources through its Annual Award Program. The Award Program recognizes outstanding historic preservation projects, programs and achievements by individuals and organizations. Awards categories include:

  • Restoration/ Rehabilitation
  • Individual Achievement
  • Organizational Achievement
  • Educational Program or Project

Projects located anywhere within Hillsborough County can be submitted for awards consideration, but must have been originally built prior to 1959. The guidelines for the Restoration/Rehabilitation award include consideration of sensitivity to the historic integrity of the site following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation. Preference is given to projects that exemplify Tampa Bay’s cultural, historical, and architectural heritage.

All winners will be honored at the annual awards ceremony and reception and are given a certificate suitable for framing. Winners in the Restoration/ Rehabilitation category are given a Banner to display on their building.

For further information call Tampa Preservation, Inc. or go to www.tampapreservation.com for details and to download an awards application. Applications are due by February 28, 2009.

Great American Teach-In

Tampa Preservation, Inc. participated in the Great American Teach-In this past November. Six fourth grade classes of excellent, eager-to-learn students at Forest Hills Elementary learned about Tampa’s rich history and heritage through the book If Our House Could Talk, featuring the 1914 National Register listed Leiman-Wilson House located in the Hyde Park Historic District.


TPI Education Coordinator and the book’s author, Robin Gonzalez, shared items that she bought on EBay, including stereo-view cards from the Spanish-American War, along with lemonade glasses and a cut glass vase bought at a yard sale from the previous Leiman-Wilson House owners. When asked by one student why anyone would want these old things, Mrs. Gonzalez replied, “I think you just want a little piece of history.”


After reading the book and a lot of Question and Answer time, each student received their own copy of the book to keep. Mrs. Gonzalez asked that they all think about becoming preservationists, and judging from their conversations, some of them are already picking out buildings that need their help!


* If Our House Could Talk is a TPI publication that young and old alike can enjoy. It makes a great Holiday gift or stocking stuffer. The book is available for purchase at Inkwood Books, the Henry B. Plant Museum Store or through TPI for larger orders.