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The Tampa Theatre and Office Building is a historic U.S. theater and city landmark in the Uptown District of downtown Tampa, Florida. On January 3, 1978, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Theatre features a wide range of independent, foreign, and documentary films on a daily basis. It is Tampa's only non-profit theater and operating costs are largely covered by its membership program, various corporate sponsors as well as ticket sales. It has periodically been used as a backdrop for movies, MTV videos and local programming.
Designed by theatre architect John Eberson, the Tampa Theatre opened on October 15, 1926. Besides being architecturally stunning both inside and out, the theatre was the first commercial building in Tampa to offer air conditioning. This fact gave the theater even more appeal during Florida's sweltering summer months.
The Tampa Theatre has undergone many restoration projects to maintain its original splendor as well as equipment upgrades to provide a modern movie-going experience. The most recent restoration project was the replacement of the marquee which includes the vertical blade sign and the canopy. The completion of this major facelift was marked by the Marquee Lighting Ceremony which took place on January 16, 2004
Davis Island was built upon two man made islands atop two small natural islands formerly known as "Little Grassy Key" and "Big Grassy Key" at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. The islands were built up from mud dredged from the bottom of Tampa Bay in the 1920s and expanded. This dredge and fill operation was undertaken at the height of the Florida Land Boom by developer and Tampa native D. P. Davis. Davis then purchased all the dredged land for $350,000. Davis planned a resort community with three hotels nine-hole golf course, airport, and swimming pool. D.P. Davis then sold 306 of the original lots for $1,683,582. Unfortunately while making a transatlantic voyage Davis fell overboard and was lost at sea.
Many of the original Mediterranean-style structures are still standing, and have received national Historic Designation, as well as local protections. Buildings of note include the Palace of Florence and Mirasol. Today Davis Island is a mix of residential and retail areas. Most predominant today is an eclectic mix of architectural styles because of the slow in development in the 1930s.
Davis Island is also home to Peter O. Knight Airport, Davis Island Yacht Club, and Tampa General Hospital. Also on the Islands are the Marjorie Park Municipal Yacht Basin & Marjorie Park at 115 Columbia Drive and the Seaplane Basin just South of the Airport. Marjorie Park was donated to the City of Tampa and named by Davis after his wife Marjorie Merritt Davis.
With a canal fully separating a portion of the island from the rest of it, Davis Islands is technically an archipelago, hence the plural form "Islands" in its name.
Nearly all streets on the island are named after bodies of water or islands. They are loosely arranged in alphabetical order starting with Adalia Ave. (the first street crossed after arriving on the island from the only bridge that connects it to the mainland) and ending with Severn Ave., the street farthest away from the bridge that leads to the main island's southernmost point, on which the Davis Island Yacht Club is situated.
Construction on the hotel began in 1926 by Francis J. Kennard & Son, Architects and the Floridan Hotel officially opened in 1927 with 19 floors and 316 rooms, at a cost of $1.9 million to build. At the time the Floridan was the tallest building in Florida and would remain the tallest building in Tampa until 1966 when the Franklin Exchange Building was completed.
The hotel's bar, the Sapphire Room, was a popular nightspot during World War II for servicemen who were training at nearby Drew Field to fly B-17s over Europe. Many of the service men at that time were housed in makeshift barracks located underneath the bleachers at the old Florida State Fairgrounds racetrack a few blocks away.
Over the years, the hotel hosted such stars as Gary Cooper as he filmed the movie Hell Harbor with actress Lupe Valdez; and Elvis Presley stayed at the hotel in 1955 after a concert at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
The hotel had bounced through several ownership groups from 1987 until 2005. Most prominent among these was Akio Ogawa and Sity International Inc. who purchased the Hotel at foreclosure in 1989. The purchase is noteworthy because it was the work of Ogawa that had the building added to the National Registry of Historic Places on March 12, 1996. He would sell the hotel in 1997 to Capital LLC.
The Hotel was purchased on April 21st, 2005 by hotelier and real-estate investor Antonios Markopoulos for $6 Million.
The Floridan's original sign, which was found by work crews during the cleaning of the building in 2005, and had adorned the buildings roof for decades, was restored and placed on the hotel's rooftop once more in late summer 2008.
Speculation had it that the hotel would have a soft opening in late 2008 and open in time for the 2009 Super Bowl, but Lisa Shasteen, business representative of Mr. Markopolus, stated on October 8th, 2008 that there is no scheduled date for completion of renovation work. However, Mr. Markopoulos would like to see the hotel up and running before September 2009.
The hotel began to decline in patronage in the early 1960’s as more modern “motels” were built along the highways that skirted the city. In 1966 the hotel closed to commercial and tourist hotel and remained only open to long term renters. By the 1980’s the once grand and luxurious hotel had become a residence for transients renting rooms by the week or month. The Floridan Hotel finally closed its doors in 1989 after new ownership fails to bring the building up to new firecodes
Opened on May 15, 1912, by the Tampa Union Station Company, its original purpose was to combine passenger operations for the Atlantic Coast Line, the Seaboard Air Line and the Tampa Northern Railroad at a single site. In 1974, as Union Railroad Station, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. After its condition deteriorated substantially, Tampa Union Station was closed in 1984; Amtrak passengers used a temporary prefabricated station building located adjacent to the station platforms after the building was closed.
Tampa Union Station was acquired in 1991 by the non-profit Tampa Union Station Preservation & Redevelopment Inc. (TUSP&R) via a mortgage held by CSX, the freight railroad company which was the corporate descendant of its original railroad owners.
During the course of the restoration, numerous abandoned documents from the Pullman Company, Tampa Union Station Company, and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad were discovered in the station. TUSP&R volunteers sorted these documents and preserved them by archiving them at the University of South Florida Library (USF) Special Collections Department and (in the case of the Pullman Company materials), the Newberry Library in Chicago.
The City of Tampa's Real Estate Division manages Tampa Union Station for the City. The Division has leased portions of the facility to private tenants, including a second floor office once occupied by the Pullman Company, and the former baggage building (which housed an art gallery until spring 2008; it now serves as the offices of a real estate firm).
In September 2008, a permanent endowment for the care and upkeep of Tampa Union Station was established at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay by a group of private donors. Income from the endowment goes to the City of Tampa to assist with the maintenance of the facility.
Additionally, 2008 saw the founding of Friends of Tampa Union Station, an all volunteer, nonprofit organization which advocates for the preservation and use of Tampa Union Station as both a landmark and transportation asset. The group was founded in cooperation with the City of Tampa and the Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers.
The City of Tampa's official Poet Laureate, James E. Tokley, Sr., in 2009 authored a poem, "The Epic of Union Station" which commemorates Tampa Union Station's history. Mr. Tokley performed a dramatic reading of the poem at Union Station on May 9, 2009, as part of National Train Day festivities held at the station on that day.