Should you wish to see all the photos I took that day, please visit the links below:
We trekked into downtown Tampa, from our house it was about a 15 minute drive.
Where we were greeted by a very unusual sight as we pulled into the parking lot.
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.…
I just loved the Moorish building design and the unusual craftsmanship of the building.
As we were heading in, I looked out onto the veranda and tried to imagine people in the late 1800's sitting out here in the hot Florida summer and thinking how uncomfortable it must have been for them. LOL
We were greeted by a very enthusiastic woman who gave us maps, the audio wands and some general tips about touring. She encouraged us to check out the introductory movie to give us a little background regarding the old hotel.
Florida's first Magic Kingdom eh? Too funny.
The buildings are topped with these unique Moorish crescent moons.
They had this HUGE unique painting that was simply titled, "Wine and Women" that used to hang in the Music Room, but more on that later.
The Plants were another family that would tour Europe and bring back some of the most lavish furniture of its time. The museum was FULL of the most beautiful pieces!
The numbers you see periodically were for the audio wand they passed out. As you were touring, if you entered the number it would give you a little bit more information regarding the piece, room or whatever you happen to be viewing. If you go, I highly recommend this, made the experience a lot better for us.
Henry Plant was one of the main reasons Tampa came into it's own. He brought the railroad and some of the most famous celebrities of its time to Tampa. Babe Ruth and Theodore Roosevelt are a few of the people that stayed there at some point. He really wanted to create a "resort" for people to come down and enjoy.
Open from December to April throughout the 1890's, the Hotel was a lively place with magnificent balls, tea parties, and organized hunts during the winter social season. Guests enjoyed an array of diversions, including wild game hunting, fresh and salt-water fishing, sailing, rowing, and canoing. Bicycles and carriages were at their disposal. Rickshaws were available for tours of the property
or an afternoon ride to see and be seen. The Hotel also boasted a golf course, tennis and shuffleboard courts, billiards, and even a racetrack. The Casino, a vast performance hall, billed national and international performers.
The view out one of the doors.
Here you see what one of the suites looked like, notice the floor to ceiling windows, they could be raised or lowered completely open, given the design it provided great cross ventilation for the guests.
The view from the hallway of one of the suites. The entrance is straight ahead and there was a room off to my right and my left. Back in the late 1800's the nightly rate per room was $5. The suites typically had 3 rooms so it was $15 a night for a suite.
The main hallway of the hotel.
These items were seats that were placed periodically throughout the garden.
The hotel also served as headquarters during the Spanish America War.
They also have family activity bags which we didn't discover until the end of our tour so we skipped it. Would be good fun for the kids though!
In the hands on section of the museum you could play with various items they used for fun back then.
This was the Writing and Reading room where guests would frequently sit in and write letters and postcards home to loved ones. It's also the most historically accurate room in the entire building, most of the pieces and the molding is original and everything has been virtually untouched.
As the building is owned by the city and currently houses the University of Tampa, only a portion of the entire building is used as the museum. The rest is used for the university.
Here is the main entrance, the old lobby of the building.
The building is 3 stories tall, so there was many elaborate stairwells throughout.
It also has the first working elevator in Florida. Although this one when you stepped into it swayed from the side to side and it felt very creepy! Tower of Terror indeed! LOL
Next we headed over to the Music Room, which is still currently used by the university.
The balcony area was used for women who wanted to enjoy the music but didn't have anyone to escort them.
As we head further back, we passed through the Solarium, leading down to the what was the dining lounge of the hotel.
A GORGEOUS room with FABULOUS acoustics, Phil and I sang and did a little dancing in the middle.
Above there was this hidden staircase that lead to the circular walkway around the top of the dining lounge.
Unfortunately, the door to get in was locked, I imagine because the flooring looked original and it was probably unstable in places now.
I did manage to snag this photo through the door though.
As we were now on the 2nd floor and walking back towards the main entrance, I couldn't help but notice the great views of the city out of the windows.
My favorite area though was the upstairs walkway over the Solarium, back towards the main building. It had a very "Wonderland" feel to it.
Back in the main building you can see where the old hotel is now classrooms for the university.
Back out the front doors we go to the beautiful gardens, you are greeted by this stunning statue.
And tucked away under the main entrance is a small cafe. Who knew they would have their own version of Cheers in this building. LOL
On our way out we passed through some of the gardens.
Next, we headed over to the Tampa Theatre, every summer they play Classic films. I'm kind of a classic films junkie, Cary Grant, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Katharine Hepburn are some of my favorite actors of the time.
Built in 1926 as one of America's most elaborate "movie palaces", the Tampa Theatre today is a fiercely protected and generously supported landmark. Designed by famed theatre architect John Eberson, the Tampa is a superior example of the "atmospheric" style of theatre design. Inside the Tampa, audiences are transported to a lavish, romantic Mediterranean courtyard replete with old world statuary, flowers, and gargoyles. Over it all is a nighttime sky replete with twinkling stars and floating clouds
Today they were showing one of my favorite Hitchcock films, To Catch a Thief
starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
For me, this is one of those theaters that bring you back to the times where the theater was not just a sticky floor and cell phone ringing patrons.
When people used to get dressed up to go to the theater and it was this glorious event, this place captures that old feeling perfectly.
We decided on upper balcony seating, mainly for the view and the ambiance.
The view didn't disappoint!
The details were unbelievable throughout.
About 10 minutes before the show starts, and organ comes right out of the stage and instead of movie previews, we are serenaded with beautiful music until the film starts.
Well, that's it for now, time for me to watch the movie! Thanks for spending the day with me!