A visually and cartographically explicit narrative blog about Tampa's built history and development.
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Friday, November 30, 2012

Sulphur Springs Tourist Club / Harbor Club

I don't know how I missed posting about this one!  I became obsessed with the run down Harbor Club building at the corner of Nebraska Avenue and the Hillsborough River about a year ago when a friend and I went exploring around the place.  I knew it was an old building.  I knew it had been a restaurant at one point.  And I also had some friends that said their bands had played there or that they had seen bands play there in the late 90s. While the building is in pretty poor shape, one thing really stood out to me... THERE ARE SHUFFLEBOARD COURTS HERE!

I was really intrigued by the place after seeing this, so I did a little research.  The Sulphur Springs neighborhood was a major tourist draw in the area, the Springs were being the main attraction.  The Tampa Electric Streetcar Company built a line that ended at the Springs at the turn of the 19th century and hotels and a little town began to grow around it.  Little vacation cabins were built along the river and throughout the Sulphur Springs neighborhood and the visitors needed some more activities to fill their recreational time with.  While not many accounts are readily available online about this building, according to the Property Appraiser's website the building was built in 1925.  While, a newspaper article from 1953 about a tournament at the club states "Sulphur Springs Club was organized in 1937, club house was built in 70 days". 

It doesn't matter which build date is correct.  The building is at least 75 years old and has seen better days.  There have been several additions over the years.  The Eastern portion of the clubhouse was originally extended over the outdoor court area, but was closed in at some point after the club shut its doors.  Below is a 1930 Sandborn map of the area and below a Google Earth aerial image of the same area:

Below are comparison shots of the front of the building, one taken by me earlier this year and the other from the Tampa Bay History Center collection.  You can see the addition on the East end and the removal of the first floor front windows.  Many doubt this building can be rehabbed, but with a little elbow grease, capital and public interest it may be possible.  I think it could be a great community resource and regenerator for the Sulphur Springs neighborhood.  While nothing tops the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club in terms of beauty and success.  I would sure love to have a similar place here in Tampa!


  1. I covered the fight to save the old arcade bldg. Do you have access to old Tampa Times clips?
    Peggy Shaw

  2. So sad that it was lost in a fire last night. It's just tragic.