It seems that historic preservation advocates are on top of things lately. The story of the threatened status of Tampa's "Oldest" known house has been popping up all over the place lately. As much as I am an advocate for historic preservation, I wanted to check more into the facts of the story as all causes are subject to sensationalism these days. Plus I don't always trust the dates of houses shown by the property appraisers office. The image above is from Google Earth and will be used as a comparison for the house's layout. Now off to the trusty Tampa Library's Sanborn maps site to do some investigation. Supposedly, Tampa's current oldest house, at 3210 E Eighth Ave. (shown above), was originally built on the Southeast corner of the City Hall block at Jackson and Florida in 1842. The current City hall building was built in 1915.
The map above is from the 1903 Sanborn edition, the last edition avail. online before the current City Hall was built. Sure enough there was a house on the site, and the layout seems comparable to the house in the Google Earth image. The picture below that map is of the Old City Hall building, which also housed the Headquarters of the Tampa Police Department. Could that be our house in the very far left of the picture?
Now lets go the oldest Sanborn map on the libraries website, dated 1884. And sure enough seems the house was there at that time, even before city hall located to the block.
The interesting part is that the house was located along a creek that ran along Jackson street (note that it says it is "dry in summer"). As you will recall from my previous post on Spanishtown Creek, the earliest settlements in the area were usually located along the water or creeks. So this fact would help to validate the age of the house.
Now let's go to the 1915 Sanborn to confirm the move. Below we see that Jackson and Florida block in 1915. The current City Hall is shown and a new police headquarters building has been built on the site of the house. The picture below is of the police headquarters from the Burgert Collection taken in the 1960s before the police headquarters was demolished to make way for the current city hall annex.
Sure enough there is a house located on that lot that fits the layout of the house currently on the site. Seems even the most basic investigation can substantiate the claims that this is indeed the house that was previously located on the City Hall lot, and it could have been built in 1842!