This tour blends history, art, and architecture. Highlights include the Plant Hotel, City Hall, the Tampa Theatre, Rivergate Tower, and Kiley Gardens.
Plant Hall was formerly known as the Tampa Bay Hotel, which was a 500+ room resort hotel opened in 1891 by Henry B. Plant near the terminus of his rail line. The museum's exhibits focus on Gilded Age tourism, the elite lifestyle of the hotel's guests,and the building's use during the Spanish-American War. In 1972 it became a National Historic Landmark.
Built from 1986 to 1988 and opening as the headquarters of the North Carolina National Bank, this 454-foot tower is one of the tallest limestone buildings in the world. Architect Harry C. Wolf intended for the building's shape to recall the design of a lighthouse. Critics believe that the building better resembled a silo or beer can.
This open plaza occupies the roof of a parking garage and creates a public green space adjacent to Rivergate Tower. The plaza was designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley, who designed the courtroom where the Nuremberg Trials were held. Kiley is one of two landscape architects in the United State to have been honored with the National Medal of Arts. Kiley used mathematical formulas tow create a checkerboard of grass and concrete that comes as close as possible to mirroring the size and proportion of the window patterns of Rivergate Tower- a 33-foot tall cylindrical tower.
Curtis Hixon Hall served as a sports arena, convention center, concert venue, and events center in downtown Tampa, Florida from 1965 to 1993. It was used to bring the people of Tampa together prior to the completion of newer facilities that led to the demolition of Curtis Nixon Hall. The park where the convention center was located was redesigned in 2010 and is now home to what is called The Tampa Riverwalk.
Founded in the 1970s, the Tampa Museum of Art, located in downtown Tampa Bay, features primarily ancient Greco-Roman, modern, and contemporary art. It hosts traveling exhibitions and offers changing exhibits of its permanent collection, and also offers educational programs throughout the year for people of all ages. The museum has been accredited by the American Association of Museums and is also designated as a Major Cultural Institution by Florida.
Originally called the "Hotel Floridian" and the "Floridian Hotel," this 1927 hotel was made by the collective genius of Tampa's own G.A. Miller and Francis J. Kennard, whose work can be seen all over Tampa today. With 19 floors, 316 rooms and elegant bar, this hotel cost $1.9 million to construct. Over the years, the hotel has changed hands and recently went through an extensive renovation. It reopened in 2012. It's famous sign was restored to its rightful place.
This S. H. Kress and Co. Building was one of a handful constructed in the state of Florida. This "five and dime" store was completed in 1929, but located elsewhere, as well as being the third building to serve the Kress empire. The first building was constructed in 1900 and located on Franklin Street. In 1927, Kress had a second store constructed in 1927 located on Florida Avenue. In 1929, that building was demolished and third and final building was completed that same year in the location it sits at today on another section of Franklin street. Abandoned by 1996, plans were made to demolish the building and its neighbors for condominiums, but was canceled. It is now back on the market for sale.
Tampa Theatre is an opulent landmark of the movie palace area. Built in the 1920s, the theatre was designed in the "atmospheric" style. The outside looks as nondescript as any department store, save for the glowing marquee sign out front, but the interior is elegant and enchanting. Surrounding the screen is a facade which, with its statues, balconies, and stucco roofing, was made to resemble an Italian courtyard, and the ceiling above the seating area is done to look like a starry blue sky. The theatre is now on the National Register of Historic Places and offers conducted tours of the balcony and stage.
Constructed between 1902 and 1905, the former Tampa (Florida) Federal Courthouse was designed by James Knox Taylor. A Beaux Arts-style building reflecting the classic roots of early twentieth century architecture, the structure was originally built to house the post office and customs house for the growing city and port of Tampa. The building was transferred to the City of Tampa through the Historic Surplus Property Program in 2003. A developer entered into a long-term lease arrangement with the city and rehabilitated the property using historic tax credits; it was opened as a hotel in 2014.
The Sacred Heart Catholic Church is a huge, Romanesque wonder in the middle of downtown Tampa. Surrounded by glass and concrete office buildings, it has been standing in the same spot since the early 20th century, serving the Catholic religious needs of the Tampa area. Historical tours of the city of Tampa often go to the Sacred Heart Church.
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church was completed in 1907 and replaced the congregation's wood frame church which had stood at this location since 1883. The design of this church incorporated some of the features of the previous church, as local architects Michael J. Miller and Francis J. Kennard found ways to blend the original church's stained glass windows and interior features with the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture they used in building this structure.
Constructed in 1915 and expanded to include an annex in 1916, this ten-story building features a central tower composed of seven stories that extends from the three-story base. The structure features a variety of architectural styles. The entrance is flanked by Doric columnns, while the poured concrete structure is covered by masonry, stone, and terra cotta exterior features. The clock in the central tower was not part of the original design. Funding for the clock was made possible by a donation drive led by some of the city's leading women.