Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wash House with a decided Italian flavor

Where is this little building. What country is it in? When I found it I drove right by at first, circled back and stopped right in front and just studied it for a while. I was heading to the neighborhood of Palmetto Beach, which is in the southeast corner of Tampa. Palmetto Beach, a community of about 2,000 people, is wedged between Adamo Drive, the Port of Tampa and McKay Bay. Unless someone knows where it is, or your directions are very good, a person will probably miss it entirely. And end up going over the 22nd Street Causeway and still wonder where it is. Just driving 3-4 minutes south of Ybor will get you there, but as I did, you must turn off the widened and modern 20th Street and get onto once heavily traveled 22nd and slow way down. There is no traffic today at all. This little building was very likely a gasoline station in the 1930s, a design that was recognizable and popular then when cars traveled this route from Ybor City, and its tobacco and cigar industry to south Hillsborough County and U.S. Highway 41. It probably had pumps out front and a sign up a tall pole for Shell or Texaco. Now, almost no one passes by. Today, in its adapted reuse, it’s a public laundromat, WASH HOUSE,…with the washers and dryers lined up off to the side. The building is virtually unchanged. And the sign of the Italian chef on the door is so, so out of place I cannot imagine how it got there. Was it a small spaghetti restaurant? What I like about finding this place is that as I’ve traveled the country, this once busy gasoline station could have been anywhere from Route 66 to U.S. 1. And very likely torn down years ago to make way for “progress." But not in Palmetto Beach. It might escape development that robs us of our unique history, even a small insignificant 80-year old gasoline station. At least not yet. I hope it’s reclaimed and its history becomes known. It’s an architectural jewel waiting to be rediscovered.

6 comments:

Pam said...

I just love unique old buildings and this one is delightful. Steeped in mystery and history. I'm glad you turned around, Frank...
Thanks for the journey!

Lois said...

What a fantastic shot. I love seeing places like this! I hope it finds new life someday and doesn't get torn down.

Jacob said...

Great photo and great story. It's my place, as you can tell: "Jacob's Well..."

Well, I was just kidding. Jacob.

brattcat said...

Such an interesting post and a great shot of that slice of Americana. Thanks for visiting and for your kind comment.

B Squared said...

Look at that roof. It is amazing. It is historic if for no other reason.

Frank said...

More of these wonderful places have been torn down than preserved. After their initial use it's hard to find a good reason to leave them or find new uses for them, I guess. It's nice to find a gem like this just standing there. Unmolested.