Monday, July 28, 2008

The Florida Collection, from the Jacksonville Public Library

The Florida Collection is an online resource made available by the Jacksonville Public Library. It includes biographical sketches, historic photographs, and old postcards, among other things. Browsing through the postcard index, I discovered:

* a 1900s photograph of horses at the starting line at Moncrief Park

* two brave men plucking feathers from an ostrich, and

* a 1940s advertisement for Berney's Restaurant.

The Berney's card proclaims "Dine with the Man in Green from Ripley's 'Believe it or Not'." And sure enough, there's a man in a green suit. A little googling finds a January 18, 1937, letter to the editor, published in Time magazine: "Dressed completely in green day and night, he will give to any woman dressed entirely in green the choice of his menu, gratis. ... The only man in Florida to drive an automobile with a green licenses, he has even painted the 'White Horse' Scotch whisky statue green."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Italian Club Cemetery

Over 100 years old, the Italian Club Cemetery still serves Tampa's Sicilian community. The Italian Club (L'Unione Italiana) was established as a mutual aid society for immigrants. Part of the dues were used to pay for members' funerals and burials, as well as death benefits to help the families.

Some photos from earlier this year:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Paul Rudolph in Texas

A recent trip to Texas resulted in many pictures of buildings, but few related to Florida! However, fans of Paul Rudolph (the architect) may be interested in photos of the Sid Richardson Science building on the campus of Texas Christian University. I have an undergraduate degree in Biology from TCU, and therefore spent many, many hours in this building. I had no idea it was a Paul Rudolph design until a year or two ago. It's an interesting building to be in, lots of shapes and curves. It can be difficult to find the lecture hall on the first day of class, with everything is tucked away under some ledge or another. It's a bit like learning in a rock shelter. And I do remember that ventilation wasn't so great for Chemistry labs. The stairwells are wonderful visually, despite being firetraps.

Sid Richardson Building - North Side

East Side

South Side

Ramp to courtyard



Further Reading:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weedon Island Could Use Your Help

If you have any information related to the theft of Native American artifacts from the museum at the Weedon Island Preserve, please call the number in the article below.

"$500 reward offered for return of Weedon Island artifacts" (St. Petersburg Times , July 8, 2008)

Related stories:

"Reward Offered For Artifacts Stolen From Weedon Preserve" (Tampa Tribune, July 8, 2008)

"Artifacts stolen from Weedon Island Preserve " (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 2008)

"Deputies: Artifacts stolen from Weedon Island Preserve" (Bay News 9, June 25, 2008)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just one more thing...

One last tidbit from Anna Maria Island, a photo of Ginny's & Jane E's at the Old IGA, an internet cafe / antique store / bakery / florist in what used to be a grocery store.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mr. Roser

One of the original developers of Anna Maria Island was Charles Roser. Roser is generally credited with being the inventor of Fig Newtons, although some of the details are lost in the murky depths of time. After selling the Fig Newton to National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), Roser moved down to Florida and tried his hand at real estate development. In addition to Anna Maria Island, he promoted Roser Park in St. Petersburg.

On Pine Street, near the Anna Maria City Pier, are two buildings with historical connections to the cookie maker: Roser Cottage and the Roser Community Memorial Church. The church was built by Charles' father John Roser, in memory of his wife.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It Was Nice, Even Though It Was Closed...

Well, what did I expect for the afternoon of the 4th of July! But I stopped by the Anna Maria Island Museum anyhow, and had a fine time. The museum itself is in one of those types of historic buildings I like, the ones that don't look like anything in particular, until you know the back-story. According to the historical marker, it was built in 1920 as an ice house, the "was subsequently used as city hall, the police department, a firehouse and the Turtle House" before being renovated in 1992 as the historical society's museum.

Here's the view from inside:

Again, the historical marker was helpful here, reporting that the jail was built in 1927 to handle overly happy guests of a local tavern. At the time, the jail did have bars, but no window glass, and it seems the mosquitoes had a "sobering effect." A fire in 1940 burned the wooden parts of the jail building, leaving the concrete/tabby parts to become a local tourist attraction.

Another historic building at the museum is the Belle Haven Cottage, built in 1920 in the bay next to the City Pier (click here for a historic postcard showing the cottage in its original location). Evidently the house's piers rotted and it fell into the water after just six years. Lyman Christy bought the cottage and had it barged around tot he other side of the island. He fixed it up and it was home for him and his wife Wanda for nearly 50 years. Then in 2001, the house was moved again, this time to the museum site. So say the historic markers. I like the flower bed border of mismatched plates.

For more information about the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and their museum, here's a link to their website. Do as I say, and not as I do, and go visit them when they're open!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Anna Maria Island City Pier

In the early 1890s, George Emerson Bean of Connecticut set up a homestead on the northern end of Anna Maria Island, looking across salt water to Egmont Key, at the mouth of Tampa Bay. In 1911 George's son George started the Anna Maria Beach Company along with John Roser (more about him later), beginning commercial development of the island. One of the first steps was to build a city pier on the bay side of the island, where excursion steamers from Tampa could unload passengers.

The City Pier is still a popular spot for tourists, day trippers, and local fishermen.

Further Reading

Visiting Small-Town Florida (Revised Edition) by Bruce Hunt (Pineapple Press, 2003)

A Historical Geography of Southwest Florida Waterways: Volume One, Anna Maria Sound to Lemon Bay (Sea Grant Florida, 2000)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sunshine Skyway

Here we are, heading south again, over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

This is the world's longest cable stayed concrete bridge, built in 1987. The cables are painted yellow and lit at night, but right now they are in the middle of a repainting project.

Going up . . .

. . . and down.

This bridge replaced the original 1950s Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was hit by a freighter during a 1980 storm. A section of the bridge fell into the water, killing 35 people. The new bridge design incorporated features to prevent that from happening again. Still, it's not entirely comforting to look out the window and see parts of the original span that have been turned into fishing piers. Here's the north pier:

On the plus side, the piers are very popular with fishermen.

The bridge is so high because it crosses Tampa Bay, and all the ships (the tankers, the cargo ships, the cruise ships) have to pass underneath to reach the Port of Tampa and Port Manatee. The bridge also connects St. Petersburg and Bradenton/Sarasota, saving an hour or more of drive time around the bay. Before the bridge, there was the Bee Line Ferry. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge (officially named the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge in 2005) is part of Interstate-275, and there is a one dollar toll.