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Florida's Byways and Ancestral Trails


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West Branch Yesterday & Today

The building that housed one of two African American libraries in Tampa during the Jim Crow era of segregation is still intact and is currently the home of the Tampa Housing Authority’s Head Start Office at 1129 North Boulevard. Built in 1940, the building included a small space pictured in this 1945 Burgert Brothers photograph (PA 5960) described as a “library facility”. Today it is used as a small office space. Plans will soon be underway to demolish the entire neighborhood.

West Branch Current West Branch


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St. James House of Prayer: Tampa Heights 2708 N. Central Avenue

In the late 1800s, black and Cuban cigar workers were not allowed to worship in the whites-only St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (the first Episcopal church in Tampa) in downtown Tampa. Ever resourceful, they met in each other’s homes for services until they built their own sanctuary on India Street in 1891.

In 1922, Reverend William C. Richardson, a retired physician-turned-priest, spearheaded the construction of a new church, including purchasing and then donating the land at the corner of Central and Columbus (then called Michigan) Avenues in Tampa Heights. He selected architect Louis A. Fort to design a Gothic Revival church with a tower, ramparts, and stained glass windows. The exterior walls were composed entirely of flint rock quarried from the Hillsborough River where it empties into the bay. Interestingly enough, the rocks did not exist in the river naturally; they came from all over the world aboard sailing ships, winding up in the river when the ships disposed of ballast from their hulls.

In 1991, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name “Episcopal House of Prayer.” St. James Episcopal Church and the House of Prayer merged in 1996 to form the St. James House of Prayer Episcopal Church. Due to its unusual and arresting stonework exterior, the building is sometimes called “The Rock Church.”

Source: Rajtar, Steve. A Guide to Historic Tampa Florida. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2007.

This book can be found in the Florida History and Genealogy Library (R 975.965 Rajtar) or in our online catalog at http://www.hcplc.org.

Search our Burgert Brothers collection for more early Florida photographs at http://bit.ly/1sTfXFd.

St. James House of Prayer


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A Cracker History of OKEECHOBEE

Now, I’m a-fixing to tell yo’all about the first citizens of Lake Okeechobee, and they were neither the catfishermen nor the Seminoles. When you learn what these characters were like and the civil engineering that they did, you’ll likely start talking to yourself, saying, “Now who in the heck would have thunk it?”

Discover more about the story of the Lake Okeechobee area, aka “the last frontier of these United States,” in Lawrence E. Will’s book:

A Cracker History of OKEECHOBEE
Custard Apple, Moonvine, Catfish and Moonshine

You can also check out Will’s book, “A Pioneer Boatman Tells of Okeechobee Boats & Skippers,” about boating down the waters of the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee because “there were no roads and blamed few trails, so if you didn’t have a boat you just plain stayed at home.”

Both works can be found in the Florida History and Genealogy Library or on our online catalog at http://www.hclpc.org.

Lawrence Will Lawrence Will.2

 


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Burgert Brothers Centennial Traveling Display

The Centennial display focuses on West Tampa, including the 1918 image of the West Tampa Free Public Library. Images of schools, churches, cigar factories, businesses, street scenes, social and recreational clubs, residential structures, and government agencies are part of the exhibition. In addition to the photographs, there are also a few documents regarding the history and the various openings of what is currently known as the West Tampa Branch Library. The display will be at Seminole Heights Branch Library until the end of September.

West Tampa Free Public Library


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Burgert Brothers Seminole Heights Traveling Display

In celebration of the newly opened Seminole Heights Branch Library, a Burgert Brothers display has been assembled. The display includes an image of the original library from 1927, an image of the library from 1936, and one of the later building taken in 1965. Other photographic subject matter includes: Hillsborough High School, the Seminole Heights Methodist Church, the Seminole Heights Baptist Church, a Piggy Wiggly on Florida Avenue, the Hillsborough Avenue Bridge, Lake Roberta, Seeley’s Drive-In Restaurant, and several community businesses and residences. It is currently at C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library untill the end of September.

Early Seminole Heights


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Traditional and Digital Archiving for the Family Historian @ JFG on 9/6/2014

On Saturday, September 6th, at 11:00 AM the Florida Genealogical Society presents:  Ms. Glynnis Gilbert will provide an introduction to Personal Archiving – covering both traditional and digital preservation basics. Learn how Personal Digital Archiving techniques can give you the tools to preserve your digital documents for future generations.

The meeting will be held in the Auditorium of the John F. Germany Public Library, 900 N. Ashley Drive in Tampa.

Glynnis Gilbert

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