Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Univeristy of Tampa

In my last post, I introduced you to the Henry B. Plant Hotel, a Victorian era winter resort in Tampa that now hosts a quaint museum (link).  The hotel is also home to the University of Tampa - my Alma Mater.

From UT's website (link),

Plant Hall, the main academic and administrative building for the University, already had an extraordinary history. Formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel, the building represented, and still remains, a symbol of the city and its history. Local historians credit its builder, railroad and shipping magnate Henry B. Plant, with the transformation of Tampa from a sleepy fishing village to what would become a vibrant city of the 21st century.

Built between 1888 and 1891, the hotel was designed to surpass all other grand winter resorts. At a cost of $3 million, the 511-room giant rose to a flamboyant height of five stories, surrounded by ornate Victorian gingerbread and topped by Moorish minarets, domes and cupolas.

The rooms that once hosted Teddy Roosevelt, the Queen of England, Stephen Crane and Babe Ruth (who signed his first baseball contract in the hotel’s grand dining room) are now classrooms, laboratories and administrative offices–the heart of The University of Tampa and a landscape for state-of-the-art student learning environments.

Speaking of Babe Ruth, this marker outside the Sykes School of Business recognizes his longest homer as a Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees.

The Sykes College of Business fits into the historic atmosphere of the campus.

Inside, the College of Business recognizes the countries attending the University.

Perhaps I should back up and begin with our student guide.

Clearly, he enjoys campus life at UT!

During my time at UT, I enjoyed the Rathskeller in Plant Hall's basement.   

I also enjoyed the soccer games at the Pepin/Rood Stadium.  UT previously hosted collegiate football.  From Wikipedia (link),

The University of Tampa football team was founded in 1933 and remained for thirty-three seasons until 1974.  They officially joined Division 1 in 1971. On November 11, 1974, in front of a crowd of 21,564 fans, the University of Tampa played their final football game, a 35-10 win over Florida A&M University. The team finished with an all-time record of 201-160-12.

Notable alumni included Freddie Solomn (49s) and John Matuszak (Raiders).   It was said around campus that the university discontinued collegiate football to make way for professional football - the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.   Also from Wikipedia (link),

Their uniforms and "Bucco Bruce" winking pirate logo were designed by Tampa Tribune artist Lamar Sparkman, with colors drawn from the state's four major college teams: orange from the universities of Miami and Florida, and red from FSU and the University of Tampa. They were one of the few teams to wear white home uniforms, forcing opponents to wear their dark uniforms in Tampa's 90-degree fall heat.  

UT is the perfect setting for crew (rowing) with direct access to the Hillsborough River.

Notice the "graffiti" along the river - visiting crew teams left their mark!

Overlooking the river is Plant Park, home to the Sticks of Fire.  Some historians believe Tampa translates as "sticks of fire" in the Calusa language from the native tribe in the area.   It may account for the frequently lightning strikes in the summer (Tampa's hockey team is called the Lightning).

The Sticks of Fire match the historic domes over the Plant Hotel.   Below is Fletcher Lounge - orginally a dining facility for the hotel's rich patrons. 

Guests walked from the grand lobby to Fletcher lounge via an enclosed walk way (while servants scurried along the upper floor).

This is noteworthy as there is a discreet entrance to the servants' staircase next to Fletcher Lounge.  In my time, it was used by the students enrolled in math and science classes.   The former kitchen was the biology lab ... 

... and the university created offices for the math teachers inside the dome.

I spent many hours with the math teachers, trying to catch up (remember the Rathskeller?)

As we walked through Plant Hall, we noticed this sign for the Philosophy Department:

Do you have any noteworthy universities in your home town? One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open throguh Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24, at SOS Aloha Book Blog,


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Imagine college students haning out in this lobby!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Henry B. Plant Museum

Downtown Tampa is home to the Henry B. Plant Hotel.  It now houses a museum ... and the University of Tampa.   From its museum website (link),

When you're building a railroad to do you make the journey worthwhile?

If you’re railroad magnate Henry Bradley Plant, in the midst of the sand swamps that would be Tampa, you construct the most astonishingly magnificent hotel of its day, then fill it with treasures from around the world.

With its splendid Moorish architecture, opulent furnishings, and spectacular tropical gardens, Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel attracted a host of celebrated guests, from Teddy Roosevelt to Sarah Bernhardt to Babe Ruth.

A visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum and the authentically restored rooms of the Tampa Bay Hotel will transport you back to a time of indulgent ten-course meals, waltzing on the veranda and alligator hunting by moonlight... The journey is still worthwhile. 

Imagine arriving by train to Tampa to find this splendor!

The hotel's architecture offers unique alcoves ... 

... for afternoon tea!

The museum is a treasure trove of Victorian antiques!

The hotel played a critical role in the Spanish American War (link):

In the months preceding the invasion of Cuba, Henry Plant exchanged letters with Secretary of War Russell Alger requesting the defense of Tampa in the event of war. Plant also sent his lieutenant Franklin Q. Brown to Washington to speak on behalf of the city to be selected as the official port of embarkation for the war. The Plant System of railways transported troops to Florida and Plant Line steamships eventually carried troops and supplies to Cuba. The Tampa Bay Hotel became the headquarters for the U.S. Army officers awaiting the order to embark.

The museum displayed from Henry Dobson, giving visitors a glimpse of life of a soldier in 1898.  

Do you have any old letters?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

Betina Krahn's THE BOOK OF TRUE DESIRES - a romantic adventure - opens on the veranda of the hotel in the days leading to the Spanish American War.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Ybor City

Ybor City is located in East Tampa.  From its website (link),

Known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter for over a century, Ybor City is an exotic blend of aromas, flavors, sights and sounds. From the scent of roasting Cuban coffee early in the morning to the rhythms of Latin music late into the night, Ybor is a feast for the senses.

Choose from a variety of cuisine - Spanish, Cuban, Italian, Greek and French - just by strolling down La Setima, the main street of the Historic District. Share authentic tapas and a pitcher of Spanish sangria in a cafĂ© atmosphere reminiscent of a Mediterranean village. 

Browse eclectic shops and art galleries or visit one of the museums. See a “hand-rolled cigar” being made or just relax and “people watch” with a cup of Ybor’s famous cafe con leche.

Founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, Ybor City today is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. Red brick buildings, wrought iron balconies and narrow brick streets give it an old-world charm that is a refreshing change of pace from the beach and the mall.

We stumbled cross a food festival featuring the Taco Bus ...

... and Rolling Zoinks.

We hopped aboard the street car ...

 ... transiting Ybor City, Channel Side, Downtown Tampa, and back. 

 Back in Ybor City, we spotted the Freddie Solomon Annex.

Freddie played football for the University of Tampa, the Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49s.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To join the FSU Pub Crawl sponsored by the Seminoles' Tampa Area Booster Club.

Do you have an ethnic neighborhood in your area?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Local business pays tribute to nearby MacDill AFB ...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor is a vibrant small town on the Northwest side of Tampa Bay.   From this link,

For years, Safety Harbor has been known as a special place in Florida: a haven where “healing waters flow.” But long before modern man came to this popular site on Tampa Bay, Indian shell mound builders inhabited the area almost 2,000 years ago, followed by the Tocobaga Indians and then the Seminoles. These early residents believed the mineral springs held mystical powers; they were the first to see the springs as the answer to perpetuating youth and healing the sick.

In 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto reached the shores of what is now Old Tampa Bay and discovered the natural springs. Believing he had found the legendary “Fountain of Youth,” missed by Ponce de Leon, De Soto established a camp here, naming the mineral springs “Espiritu Santo Springs” (or “Springs of the Holy Spirit”).

My favorite refuge from the Florida heat is the public library ...

... with its unique benches!

The library is shaded by several "grand" oak trees.

This one being named "the elf tree".

Even the library embraces the tropical scene with this wall mural.

This mermaid is ready for the mail!

The frogs welcome diners to a French cafe crafted from a vintage house.

Natually Safety Harbor hosts a marina,

with many pleasure craft in the harbor.

I like this name!

The harbor is home to endangered manatee which often flirt with tourists on the pier.

What would you name your fictional boat?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.   Comments are open through Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24.


Kim in Baltimore

Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Strumming in front of the barber shop.