Saturday, May 09, 2009

Biglow stands proudly on the Boulevard of Dreams

The Boulevard of Dreams, Bayshore Boulevard, stretches from Tampa’s downtown to South Tampa and Gandy Boulevard. It curves along the outline of Hillsborough Bay and is said to include the world's longest continuous sidewalk - about four and a half miles. Facing the water are magnificent homes and towering condominiums, all with an expensive and coveted view of the water, seawall and 10-foot wide ribbon of sidewalk. The Bayshore Greenway Trail, a linear park in the city’s system, is used day and night by joggers, walkers, bicyclists, skaters, plain old tourists enjoying the sunshine and view and dogs of every imaginable breed, trying to keep pace with their fitness-crazed masters. Many historic homes grace the boulevard but only one stands proudly at its start. The Biglow-Helms House. (Also spelled Bigelow, as found in the Bigelow Society website) is one and one-half stories, solidly built and sitting on a two-acre lot. Although originally set back a little further from the street, it was actually moved forward to accommodate additional structures built behind it. Used for offices and meeting spaces, its 10,000 sq. ft. was constructed in 1908 by Silas Leland Biglow, a distinguished early developer and public official in Tampa government. He served as the president of the Tampa City Council and was very active in the development of the Ybor City Building and Loan Association. In 1919, the home was purchased by Dr. John Sullivan Helms and than later by noted Tampa artist Jack Wilson, a nephew of Dr. Helms. The house is constructed of "artificial stone" made from precast concrete blocks. Very substantial and even beautiful today. Dr. Helms added a wing in 1920 and opened the Bayside Hospital, a small, private and well-respected medical clinic at a time before the opening of Tampa General Hospital on Davis Islands. For eight years the Bayside Hospital served prominent residents of the Hyde Park and Bayshore area. The hospital closed in 1927 and the house became the Helms' residence again. The family owned the home until 1974. The Biglows were influential and important contributors to the growth of early Tampa. As a side note, and of great importance to me personally, is that during the time when most children were often born at home, my mother was one of the lucky few dozen Tampa boys and girls brought into this world by Dr. Helms at the Bayside Hospital. And she was always an extremely proud “Bigelow Baby” and shared this fun distinction with many life-long friends. I hope this peek into Tampa's past (a request actually by LOIS) and look at one of its grand old homes just whets your appetite for more.


16 comments:

Jacob said...

Wonderful photo of a grand old home and great commentary!

Lois said...

Thank you so much for posting this Frank! You got the history of my great-grandfather's house just right. The picture is beautiful! His branch of the family always spelled it Biglow without the "e" and I'm not sure why. My grandfather used to tell me stories about growing up in this house. He took pictures of both the outside and inside around 1912 when he was a boy and I still have them. It has a beautiful stairway and wood paneling downstairs and the fireplaces are nice too. I could go on and on! Thanks again!

Frank said...

It's still very nice inside and is a real special part of our city's too too long history.

Lois said...

I got so excited about the picture that I forgot to mention how awesome I think that is that your mother was born in the house!

Lori Skoog said...

Frank...this and your other photos are fabulous! Your writing is great too! Thanks for visiting my Journal and leaving such kind comments.

What a beautiful structure.

Abe Lincoln said...

I came from Lois' blog and enjoyed this post and reading about the Biglow-Helms House. Nicely done.

Pam said...

Frank, this is a wonderful photo and history. I found your blog through Lois. Isn't it a small world...
Have a great day!

Frank said...

Thanks ABE and PAM for coming over from LOIS to visit me in Tampa. I love having such good company and hope you'll visit often. I'll keep my eye on Ohio AND Jupiter.

Happy Mothers' Day to the moms out there.

MaCoBra said...

Hi Frank, I have just noticed that you have become a follower of my blog.. .:) What a great place Tampa must be! It looks like paradise! I have been in the charter business for a while on a mega yacht, some pictures look familiar! Looking forward to see your part of the world. Cheers from Marcel

Anonymous said...

Ronnie said,
I have the original water color by Jack Wilson that was done in his small studio .It also was on view for awhile .It was left to me by an elderly Aunt..Does anyone know how I can find out more about it.

Frank said...

RONNIE: I don't know where you are located, but the henry B. Plant Museum or the Tampa Bay History Center, either one, could probably point you in the right direction. They are on the web. You could also contact the curators at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. All three have very good professionals who could help with your questions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Frank ,actually Im in the New Jersey area .I have the original painting that Jack Wilson had on exhibit when he painted in his studio at the Bigelow..My Great Aunt and his sister and Jack himself were quite friendly my Aunt so admired the painting that Jack had it sent to her years later.It is the picture that was in the Tampa paper many years ago.I have not been successful in the searches you mentioned..but I do thank you for your responsive .Should you find out any more about this floral painting please do let me know.Regard s Ronnie

Nancy said...

Hi there - enjoyed your piece on the Biglow Mansion. My mother was a Biglow Baby and I helped organize a fundraiser at the house, many years ago, for the "Biglow Babies" that included lots of old Tampans!
Frank - your site is so interesting! How do you get in touch with the Lucky Lady II cruise people. That's a great picture of the boat! Thanks, NF

viagra online said...

23jj I love the Boulevard of Dreams, is a good place to go with your wife, I think we can share some pictures about it, if you want to, I can improve your visuals characteristics, I'm a photographer and honestly, I think you're forgetting the main point here: the pictures in the text. I mean, you can write and might be a good writer, but if you don't have "awesome" pictures, you're a silly blogger here.

www.muebles-en-la-rioja.com said...

It can't work as a matter of fact, that is what I consider.

Lois said...

I was thinking about you today Frank and remembering how kind it was of you to take the time to do this wonderful post about my grandfather's house. I just wanted to say that you are missed my friend.