A visually and cartographically explicit narrative blog about Tampa's built history and development.
(Above banner created from photo in the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gate to Tampania

Browsing through the digitized Burgert Bros. Collection a few years ago I stumbled upon this beauty (I admit it was the lit sign and font that did it). The inspiration for the name of this blog, the entrance gate to the Tampania subdivision. The gate spanned a narrow West Shore Boulevard at North B Street.

As the Florida real estate market boomed in the early 20s companies were scrambling to buy up the wilderness, subdivide it into nice little lots and sell the Florida dream to sunshine seeking Northerners. When companies bought up this land the first thing they would do was clear it and plop down an elaborate entrance and maybe a sales office, usually a large arched gate would mark the entrance. Once these were in place the cold hard selling could begin. In Tampania's instance, the gate also served as the sales, or "field", office. Here you can see the company had it's own sales bus that could bring potential buyers right to the site.

You can tell that the Florida Real Estate bust of the mid 20s hit the neighborhood hard. From this picture you can see that there is already damage to the roof of the gate, most of the lots were undeveloped and the ones that were developed were mostly apartment buildings. I can only assume that the gate was torn down sometime in the 50s / early 60s as the Howard Frankland went up and traffic along westshore would have swelled (trucks were probably getting taller too). Soon most of the neighborhood would be demolished to make way for Westshore Mall and the surrounding businesses. Stayed tuned for more gate posting fun in the future!
The Tampania subdivision was originally platted and registered with the county in 1917. But the gate wasn't built until 1926. Set out in the burbs, this land wouldn't become a part of the City until the 1953 annexation, Tampania would have been an ideal subdivision. Near the bay and situated along the Memorial Highway (which ran down Kennedy) it had easy access to both Tampa and Pinellas County. Tampania was your typical Mediterranean Styled housing development and featured a mix of both apartment buildings and single family houses. Here is a beautiful Cirkut panorama of part of the subdivision as it looked in 1937 (bigger view here):


  1. You know, after moving away for college / Navy and coming back home, it seems that the tactics for setting up new developments and their eventual demise have once again repeated themselves.

    In Brandon/Valrico of the late '90's and early/mid 00's, the same tactics (it appears) of buying plots of land (this time, orange groves), setting up elaborate entrances to these plowed and grated lots, then attempting to sell them were used.

    And look what happened: Speculators and those who couldn't afford the properties go belly up when the economy tanks.

    Ah, those who forget the past...

  2. Exactly, that is the point of this blog. Out of sight, out of mind. That's why I love finding interesting decaying and demolished buildings, there is usually an interesting story to discover and learn from.