The original tower, built on the banks of the Hillsborough River by the original Temple Terrace developers in 1924, was based on plans from Dr. Charles Campbell, an early pioneer of bat studies and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. The tower was intended to be a roost for bats that would eat the mosquitoes that caused malaria. Today, there are three Campbell bat towers still standing (out of an original fourteen world-wide): one in the Florida Keys and two in Texas. The Temple Terrace tower measured 10’ sq. wide at the base and was 40’ tall from ground level to the top of the roof ridge. It was burned in 1979 by arsonists.
The plan is to rebuild a tower based on precise measurements taken from the remains of the tower along with the existing historic Campbell bat tower on Sugarloaf Key, Florida. The interior of the tower will be completely re-configured with assistance of George and Cynthia Marks of The Florida Bat Conservancy so it will be a functional roost (it’s unclear whether bats ever lived in the old tower). A functional roost will allow the City to reduce its use of harmful pesticides, and provide habitat for local native bats. The proposed site for the new tower is based on research by the Mark’s and Temple Terrace Parks Planner Dana Carver and will be in the new 150 acre Riverfront Park. The new tower will be a focal point for the park and will complement a nearby bat tower viewing pavilion designed and constructed by USF architecture students in 2008.
Temple Terrace is currently accepting donations for this worthy project along with pursuing grants and seeking corporate sponsors for equipment, materials and/or labor. Corporate sponsors can receive name recognition at the future tower site depending on the sponsorship level. To make a tax deductible donation send your check made out to The City of Temple Terrace, referenced for the bat tower project, and addressed to Al Latina, Friends of the Temple Terrace Parks and Recreation, 7002 Doreen Street, Tampa, Florida 33617. The donations will be placed in a city account created for the project. If you would like to volunteer to help with this project please contact Al Latina, 813-988-6794, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article and photograph provided by Grant Rimbey