Saturday, November 29, 2008

Temple Terrace Holiday Tour of Homes

Next Saturday, December 6 (10 am to 2 pm) is the Temple Terrace Historic Homes Tour, presented by the Temple Terrace Preservation Society. The tour begins and ends at the 1920s Club Morocco Casino (now the Florida College Student Center, see map), and features four 1920s Mediterranean Revival houses and four 1950s - 1960s Mid Century Modern houses.

History of Temple Terrace

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hot War to Hot Dogs

Just to the east of Busch Gardens' parking lot in Tampa stands Mel's Hot Dogs, since 1973. The restaurant also happens to be in the last remaining building from the World War II training base, Henderson Field. The former Army air field land is now part of Busch Gardens, a brewery, and the University of South Florida. Traces of the runways can still be found, and in 2000, construction crews at the university found a rusty practice bomb.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Road Trip to (Off) Broadway?

"After Years, Sondheim's 'Road Show' Pulls Into N.Y." - National Public Radio: "Addison Mizner was an architect who helped create Florida's Palm Beach. His brother, Wilson, was a larger-than-life character: a cocaine-addicted gambler who managed prizefighters, collaborated on Broadway plays, and got involved in all sorts of illegal schemes, including swindling his own wife."

More about Mizner:

"Architect Addison Mizner: Villain or Visionary?" (Herald-Tribune, Jan. 27, 2008)

"Mizner's Dream" (Boca Raton's History)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Polynesian Putter

The other evening we played a round. Polynesian Putter is a 1970s mini golf course on St. Pete Beach that features a large tiki head with glowing blue eyes. Three years ago it was chosen as the area's "Best Putt-Putt," and I don't think much has changed since then. It's basic, many of the course obstacles are actually garden statuary, but if you just want a relaxed way to pass an hour with family or friends, it's just the thing.

Founded in 1972, Polynesian Putter is a Treasure Island survivor. The tiki head on the course is echoed by a tiki head on the score card, although some have pointed out that the tiki head on the score card was actually at Tiki Gardens. Tiki Gardens was a Hawaiian-themed resort down the road, which is now a local beach access.

The hole under the snake forks, and you have to choose which way to go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Citrus Park School - 1911

In September I posted a photograph of the Citrus Park Colored School, which raised a question about another one-room school in Citrus Park. Finally, I stopped and took a picture of that one as well.

The Citrus Park school was built in 1911, and served all grades in a single room until the 1920s, when a divider was added to make it into two rooms. In the 1920s, a new brick school was built; this brick building is still part of today's Citrus Park Elementary. The wooden schoolhouse, which was originally white rather than red, continued to serve the school and community as lunchroom, church, and classroom. As Citrus Park grew, particularly after World War II, more classrooms were added to the school, but the old schoolhouse remained.

The Old Citrus Park School is a Hillsborough County Historic Landmark, as it may be the oldest standing school building in the county.

The Citrus Park Elementary School campus is rather a hodge-podge of architectural styles, the latest addition being in the current decade. Northwest Hillsborough County has grown rapidly in the past ten years, and finding classrooms for all the kids has greatly challenged the local school board.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Little Comfort in St. Petersburg

Tucked between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of History near St. Petersburg's Pier is this comfort station. "Comfort station" is a fairly outdated term for public restroom.

This particular comfort station is architect-designed, in the Romanesque Revival style (it's a City of St. Petersburg historic landmark). Today it may seem odd to have a pretty public restroom, especially one right on the waterfront in the midst of museums and tourist attractions. But in the early twentieth century, public facilities showed that a city was progressive, clean, safe. Tourism was very important in St. Petersburg in the 1920s, and while no one was not going to come visit because of the restrooms, having a nice comfort station didn't hurt.

The architect of this little gem was Henry Taylor, who designed many of St. Pete's finest buildings, including the Vinoy hotel and St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Church. The remarkable similarity between the later and the comfort station has fed local urban lore, that the church didn't pay Taylor for his work, and in retribution he used the design to build a restroom. However, it seems this story is a case of fiction stranger than fact, based on construction dates and Taylor's wife. It may be more difficult to prove or disprove stories that the comfort station is haunted by a woman named Agnes.