Tampa Bay Hotel (now Plant Hall, University of Tampa)

John A. Wood

A former hotel

This former hotel is now one of the main buildings of the downtown campus of the University of Tampa and houses the Henry B. Plant Museum. It was built in the late nineteenth century by the railroad magnate Henry B. Plant as a luxury resort hotel, open from December to April. It had more than 500 rooms and hosted such famous guests as Teddy Roosevelt and Stephen Crane. Most of the rooms had their own baths, electricity and telephones, and luxury accoutrements from art work, Venetian mirrors, fine porcelains,and beautiful furniture--many examples of which can be seen today in the Plant Museum. This Gilded Age hotel provided a self-contained vacation, with delivery by train to the front door, rickshaw transportation through the exotic gardens, tennis, golf, and hunting, as well as water sports, formal balls and tea parties.

An exotic style

This building was enormous by late nineteenth standards--about a quarter of a mile in length. Somewhat like the earlier Royal Pavilion in Brighton, it is in an exotic style--usually described as Moorish or Turkish. It has the characteristic horseshoe arches and minarets of this style. Domes, turrets, cupolas, gingerbread trim and decorative filigree work add to the fantasy style.

Two of the five minarets

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© 2008 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.