Friday, September 25, 2009
City of Tampa Fire Station Number 8 - Built 1924
Tampa Fire Station Number 8 was built in 1924. When it was new it was located on the far western edge of the city, two blocks east of the city limits, today's Howard Avenue. It was surrounded by California-style bungalows and two story apartment buildings on newly-paved streets. It was a new neighborhood filled with young working dads, stay-at-homes moms and plenty of children who attended nearby schools. Busy Swann Avenue is to its south and Grand Central Boulevard (today's Kennedy Boulevard) is to the north. Over the decades, the neighborhood matured as did the residents and at some time in the 1960s and '70s kids all moved away as did many homeowners as they grew older. The homes grew unfashionable and prices began to drop. At some point the City of Tampa closed this fire station and it was eventually purchased for office space. Except for the tall glass windows in the front, where the original wooden station doors once hung, the exterior probably looks much as it did 85 years ago. I think the rehabilitation and reuse of this historic structure is a very good thing; I would rather it be a residence or offices today then to not exist at all. The best part of this building is the fire station's number and the seal of the city in the center. Interestingly, after several years of neglect and decline as a neighborhood, it has come back and is again a very desirable place to live. Most of the homes and building have been restored and young professionals and families have moved back in. Prices are probably 100-150 times their original selling prices in the 1920s when young, newly married couples, including my grandparents, bought their first home. As little girls my mom and her sister played in the yard of their parent's brand new bungalow, without a tree or a blade of grass, on South Melville Avenue, just a block from this station house.