The University of Tampa in downtown Tampa, Florida is host to one of the most unusual architectural buildings Kongo has seen in some time and was completely surprised to discover it during a business trip there this week. The former Tampa Bay Hotel was built by railroad magnate Henry Pant in 1888 as one of the premier anchors to his hotel line. The unique stainless steel minarets are fascinating to observe.
Built at a cost of $2.5M, the Tampa Bay Hotel hosted hundreds of celebrities over the years, including the Queen of England, Clara Barton, Sarah Bernhardt, and Stephen Crane. Babe Ruth signed his first baseball contract in the main dining room.
Originally the hotel boasted a golf course, bowling alley, racetrack, a heated indoor pool, and a casino. The architecture is Moorish Revival which was popular during this Victorian age.
During the Spanish-American War Henry Plant persuaded the U.S. Government to use the hotel as a headquarters and high-ranking officers plotted strategy in the stately hotel while enlisted men camped out on the grounds. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders camped here before embarking for Cuba and conducted maneuvers on the open space surrounding the hotel.
Today the building is part of the University of Tampa and used for administration offices and classrooms. The building also includes a museum dedicated to the glory days of the old Tampa Bay Hotel.
The University of Tampa is located in downtown. Parking is a challenge but it’s a short walk from any of the hotels near the convention center.
Travel safe. Have fun.