This feature is not affiliated with Ulele Restaurant, the Columbia Restaurant Group, or any of its directors or employees. 

 


LOST TRIBES - Ulele by VALA OLA
Bronze, Life-size, 18" x 14" x 14" Limited edition of 35
No base is needed as she "floats" on 4 felted legs.
Photo by TampaPix
 

THE PRINCESS ULELE

This is the story of a Spaniard named Juan Ortiz and a Ucita woman known as Ulele in Florida nearly 80 years before Captain John Smith set foot in Virginia and met Pocahontas.

Some historians contend that Smith used published accounts of Ortiz's experience to create his Pocahontas story. It was not until after Pocahontas died in England in 1617 did the Pocahontas story show up in a revised account of Smith's adventures, and no other colonist of the time makes reference to it. "It's something nobody can prove one way or the other," said a Florida historian, William Coker. "But on the other hand, the evidence, I think, leans pretty heavily in favor of Smith borrowing the story."

Born in Seville, Spain, the son of a nobleman, Juan Ortiz had first traveled to Florida with the ill-fated conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez.  Commander of an expedition that landed in or near present-day St. Petersburg in 1528, Narvaez quickly proved himself a brutal enemy of the Tocobaga Indians living in the area. He cut off the nose of a chief named Hirrihigua and literally fed the chief's mother to the expedition's war dogs.

Pánfilio de Narváez

As might be expected, the chief (called Ucita by one of the De Soto chroniclers and Hirrihigua by another) developed a fierce hatred for Europeans. He thirsted for revenge and the opportunity finally came when the unfortunate Juan Ortiz fell into his hands. Ortiz had been a member of the Narvaez expedition, but had gone back to Cuba with the ships as the ill-fated soldiers marched away into the interior of Florida. When she heard nothing of her husband, Narvaez' wife sent the young Ortiz and 20 to 30 others back to Florida in a small ship to search for him.

When the ship arrived at Bahia Espiritu Santo (Bay of the Holy Spirit)--Tampa Bay, the sailors spotted what appeared to be a note attached to a stick or reed and left on a beach. Indians could be seen there and two actually paddled out to the Spanish ship where they were taken as hostages. Ortiz and three others then set out for shore in a small boat to investigate the apparent note, but no sooner did they arrive than were they surrounded by a large crowd of warriors and taken prisoner. At the same time the two hostages aboard the ship broke free and jumped overboard, swimming away to safety.

Three of the prisoners were killed with arrows in the plaza of Hirrihigua's (or Ucita's) village, but a more gruesome fate was reserved for Ortiz.  After being spared for some time and used as a slave to bring firewood and perform other menial tasks, the 18-year-old Ortiz was tied to a large grill and placed over a bed of hot coals.  It was the plan of the chief to roast him alive there in slow agony. Ortiz's screams soon filled the air and several female relatives of the chief rushed forward to plea for his life.  Among these was said to be a daughter of the chief, long remembered in Florida tradition as Princess Hirrihigua (Ulele), who pleaded with her father to spare his life. The Chief consented; Ortiz survived but was severely burned and bore the scars of the ordeal for the rest of his life.  

 

Ulele then told Ortiz how her father had the mind to sacrifice him the next day, and that he must flee to Mococo, who was an enemy of the warriors who had captured him.  Ulele knew the chief would receive Ortiz with regard, as she had heard that he had asked for him, and said would like to see him.  Since Ortiz knew not the way, she went half a league out of the village with him at dark, to put him on the road, returning early so as not to be missed. 

Ortiz spent nine years with Mococo, who promised if he remained faithful he would return him to the Christians, and it was in fulfillment of this promise that he was escorted to the Spanish by a number of Indians:

In 1539, Mococo unexpectedly informed Ortiz that Spanish ships had arrived in the bay and that he was free to go. He set out with several Indian companions to find the explorers, but when he did so the Spanish unexpectedly attacked his small party.

Rescue of Juan Ortiz, Sevilla! Sevilla!
by George Gibbs, 1898 - from Discovering America
a podcast by Terry Noorda

 

 

 

One of the cavaliers was about to thrust at an Indian with his lance, when he was astonished to hear him cry out in rather poor Spanish "For the love of God and the Virgin Mary do not slay me, I am a Christian, I am Juan Ortiz." Ortiz was painted and tattooed like the Indians and indistinguishable from them. He had been among the Indians for 12 years, and could only speak Spanish by mixing it up with Indian. They told Ortiz they were from Hernando de Soto's army and carried him back to their leader.

De Soto used Ortiz as an interpreter and he joined the disastrous expedition. Although Ortiz survived the Narvaez expedition he did not survive the De Soto expedition. He and de Soto both died in the winter of 1541-42 near the Mississippi River.  The expedition was severely hampered by the loss of Ortiz as an interpreter. Thereafter there was often confusion concerning directions of travel based upon information they thought they were getting from local informants.

 

 

 

Fidalgo D'Elvas. Richard Hackluyt, trans. A Narrative of the Expedition of Hernando de Soto into Florida, by a Gentleman of Elvas, translated from the Portuguese by Richard Hackluyt, in 1609.
Images from Anthology of Louisiana Literature

The eventual fate of Princess Ulele is not known. Although claims have been advanced on behalf of several communities, the oldest known legend associates the rescue of Ortiz with the Pinellas Point Temple Mound in St. Petersburg. This ancient Tocobaca site is said to have been the village of Hirrihigua (or Ucita, depending on the source), the chief who captured Ortiz.  There are other opinions.

A survivor of the de Soto expedition, known as the Gentleman of Elvas, included the Ortiz rescue in his account published in Lisbon in 1557. An English translation was printed around 1605. A Spanish account by Garcilasco de la Vega appeared in 1601. "Lisbon and London were on good terms," Professor Coker said. "There's no question in my mind that copies of the book in Portuguese, Spanish and English were in London early on and early enough for Smith to have made a thorough study of them."

 

A Narrative of the Expedition of Hernando de Soto into Florida, by a Gentleman of Elvas,  Images from Anthology of Louisiana Literature
(The two pages are back to back in the actual book.)
 

 

 

 

 

Historian Tom Worth translated the Spanish accounts of 16th century explorers and captives who visited Florida's lower Gulf coast for his book “Discovering Florida,” which was to be released in September, 2014. Through these texts, Worth discovered that portions of the Ulele myth told today are simply wrong. For starters, he said, the name of the chief's daughter is never mentioned in the original narratives.  “Ulele” first appears in the 1859 book “Life Travels and Adventures of Ferdinand de Soto, Discoverer of the Mississippi,” by Lambert Wilmer. Worth said the author probably created a name of the previously unnamed woman as a storytelling device.

 


 

Opinions also differ as to where this adventure took place.  Worth is certain it was not in today's Pinellas County, despite what the marker says in St. Petersburg.  Some say Safety Harbor; Worth believes  the original texts point to a site at the mouth of the Little Manatee River in southern Hillsborough County.

Read more about Worth's findings and what others think in the TBO.com article that the above two paragraphs come from:  Princess Ulele is local history mystery, May 31, 2014, by Paul Guzzo, Times Staff Writer.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Times, July 12, 1995 - Florida, 1528: a Tale With the Same Twist

Explore Southern History - Juan Ortiz       The Ulele story at Ruskin History Project

The life, travels and adventures of Ferdinand de Soto: discoverer of the Mississippi by Wilmer, Lambert A.,  1858

The Survival of the Spanish Soldier Juan Ortiz in Florida After the Narvaez Expedition

 


 

THE ULELE INSPIRATION
BY RICHARD GONZMART

 

Ulele is a native-inspired restaurant and brewery, using fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and other proteins from Florida when they are available, just as my ancestors did. Open since August 2014, Ulele sits on the banks of the Hillsborough River next to the Ulele Spring. It is adjacent to the Water Works Park, which has been transformed into a family-friendly park thanks to our Tampa Mayor and City Council.

Part of The Columbia Restaurant Group, the eatery and park has reenergized and built renewed pride in Tampa Heights. It is just four blocks away from where my grandparents, mother and brother lived on 7th and Central Avenue. It is 300 yards from where I was born at St. Joseph's Hospital. We are coming home.

Read more about Richard Gonzmart's inspiration for Ulele Restaurant at the Ulele website where the above is from.
(Stained glass windows photo by TampaPix)

 


ULELE MONUMENT by VALA OLA Bronze Monument, 115% life- size, approx. 6 feet high. The edition is closed, additional casting of the ULELE monument are not available for purchase. www.ValaOla.com
Photo from April 22, 2015 statue unveiling.

 

Photos from Vala Ola's website

THE ULELE STATUE

A FEW WORDS FROM THE ARTIST:  Her jewelry is shell beads and pearls. Her costume is made of Spanish moss. The legend of ULELE is fascinating. CNN did a story on her and the monumental size of this sculpture.  --Vala Ola

Below: Vala Ola by her bronze monument "LOST TRIBES",
edition of 5, size 8'x6'x6'.  

Sitting between the restaurant and the Ulele Spring, the nearly seven-feet tall, 500-pound bronze by Cave Creek, Arizona artist Vala Ola celebrates the independent spirit of Ulele, the young daughter of local Tocobaga chief Hirrihigua.  Fourth generation co-owner and President of the Columbia Restaurant Group Richard Gonzmart said he chose Ola for the commission because she was the only artist to focus on Ulele’s strength and determination. The statue is surrounded by water and a “ring of fire.” Special lighting accents the statue at night.

Photo below is from April 22, 2015 statue unveiling.


ULELE RESTAURANT WEBSITE
ULELE on Facebook

 

This feature is not affiliated with Ulele Restaurant, the Columbia Restaurant Group, or any of its directors or employees.
 



A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOME OF TAMPA'S WATERWORKS & SPRINGS

THE GOVERNMENT SPRING
A historical marker formerly located near 5th Avenue and 13th Street, erected by the Ybor City Rotary Club, commemorated the site of a historic spring which served as the earliest source of water for Fort Brooke and an Indian encampment.  It read:

Tampa's oldest and most romantic landmark.
For centuries the ancient Timuquan Indian Tribes used this spring as a shrine to their water-gods. The Spanish Conquistadores tarried here, and the early pioneers found sustenance from the magic waters. For more than 60 years this spring supplied water for Fort Brooke. During the Seminole Indian Wars famous history making men planned their campaigns here. Among them were: General Winfield Scott, General Zachary Taylor, General David E. Twiggs, General Edmund P. Gaines, General Thomas H. Jessup, and General Abraham Eustis. In 1896 Florida's first brewery was erected here. For many years the pure water from this famous spring was used to brew La Tropical Beer.

The first road connecting Fort Brooke to Fort King near present-day Ocala, about one hundred miles away, was constructed by the U.S. army in 1825 and ran through the heart of the wilds of today's Ybor City, with two offshoots leading to the spring.

The road was built from Ft. Brooke (now the Channelside area) through the salt marshes of what was the Ybor Estuary (the Port of Tampa area) to the large spring at the present site of Fifth Avenue and Thirteenth Street.

Since the spring was located on government land, the spring was named Government Spring. This two-mile strip of road was the first to be built in South Florida, and provided a shortcut from the fort to the spring. The water was transported in barrels on mule-drawn wagons. Many notable military men and scouting parties stopped at this historic spring to fill their canteens and water their horses before leaving on expeditions into the forest.

 

In the closing days of July, 1846, an intrepid young Scottish sea captain, James McKay, with his expectant wife Matilda, their four children, his spirited mother-in-law, Madam Sarah Call, their eleven slaves, and household goods, all set sail on his schooner from Mobile, Alabama, toward the wild frontiers of Florida and the village of Tampa. This was the beginning of the McKay heritage in Tampa, an illustrious family which has played a prominent part in the development of Tampa for more than 130 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Tampa was platted in 1847, Captain McKay began purchasing land here. Old records show some of his early purchases – two blocks from Jackson to Whiting Street, between Franklin Street and Florida Avenue, the Knight and Wall block on Franklin and Kennedy, and a large tract on the river which became the site of the Tampa Waterworks in the late 1880s, and later became the police station in the 1960s.  On this site, now known as Tampa Heights, McKay erected a large sawmill – the first mill in Tampa. The sawmill on the “outskirts” of the village supplied the material for building, and was an indispensable aid to the early settlers.

On July 12, 1884, Cyrus Snodgrass built the first ice plant on the west coast of Florida at the spring site. The plant supplied ice for the several fish companies which had moved to Tampa with the coming of the railroad.

One fine spring day in 1885 the sleepy village of Tampa woke up. That was the day, May 7th, when a body of inspired citizens organized an enthusiastic Board of Trade which set about to transform a tiny fishing hamlet into a productive metropolis. The citizens were no longer content to reside in a faded military outpost by the water, an isolated spot with deep sandy streets, a few board sidewalks, frame buildings and no industry or commerce to speak of.

Much of the success of the early days of Tampa's Board of Trade undoubtedly was due to the enlightened leadership furnished by that human dynamo, Dr. John P. Wall. This incredible man, a former editor of the Sunland Tribune, a former mayor of Tampa, and pioneering doctor in the research of the mosquito as the cause of Yellow Fever, was in the forefront of every progressive move, reached the climax of his colorful public service career in that year 1885.

Capt. John T. Lesley
Vice-chairman of the Board of Trade

 

 

 

THE BEGINNING OF TAMPA'S WATERWORKS

During the winter of 1884-85, a series of disastrous fires convinced everyone that a dependable water supply was essential. In 1885, when the population of Tampa numbered 2,376, City officials considered a system of waterworks for the community.  At its first session, the Board of Trade named a committee to "do all possible for the success of the election on the City Water works" and planned a public meeting to promote the project. Captain John T. Lesley, former Tampa Mayor and vice chairman of the Board of Trade, delivered an eloquent and forceful address in support of the water works. They planned to use the water supply from Government Spring, since the army for many years used the water from this spring in preference to rain water. Laboratory tests showed the spring water to be the purest and healthiest in South Florida.

On July 28, 1885, the council awarded a franchise to the Holly Manufacturing Company, of Lockport, N.Y. The company agreed to provide enough water for a town of 10,000 and install fifty fire hydrants without charge. Water rates were fixed at $8 a year for homes and from $15 to $50 a year for business places.

Postcard image from VintageMachinery.org

After getting the contract, the Holly officials lost their enthusiasm. Making a house-to-house check to learn how many families would take the "city water," they learned they could not expect to get a gross revenue of more than $4,000 a year. That was not enough to pay operating expenses, to say nothing of giving a return on the initial investment, so the concern understandably proceeded to forget the franchise.

Repeated attempts were made to interest other companies but all failed because Tampa, then incorporated as a town, could not obligate itself to pay for water hydrants.

That obstacle was removed July 15, 1887, when Tampa was incorporated as a city. On September 13 the new city council awarded a franchise to the Jeter-Boardman Waterworks Company and agreed to pay $4,500 a year for 110 hydrants.

Arthur Edwin Boardman, President of the Macon (Georgia) Gas, Light & Water Co., had been elected city engineer in Macon in 1872. 

William Augustus Jeter
MEMOIRS OF GEORGIA, VOL 1. By the Southern Historical Assoc., 1895.

 

 

 

William Augustus Jeter was a man of many endeavors. He established mills, factories, built a steamboat and ran a steamboat line, and organized the Hawkinsville Brick Manufacturing Co.   He had contributed so much to the development of Hawkinsville, GA, that in 1885 he was elected mayor.

In 1886, Jeter and Boardman formed the Jeter & Boardman Gas & Water Co.

 

 

City of Tampa's Incorporation History
 

  • January 25, 1849 - Village of Tampa elected 5 trustees with M.G. Sikes elected president.

  • October 10, 1852 - Citizens voted to abolish the village government.

  • September 10, 1853 - Citizens voted to organize as the Town of Tampa with a Board of Trustee form of government.

  • September 15, 1855 - Citizens voted to abolish the Town government and establish a City Charter.

  • December 15, 1855 - Governor Broome signed Special Act of the Florida Legislature granting a charter for the City of Tampa.

  • February 22, 1862 - The City Government was suspended by Confederate Military Authorities during Civil War.

  • October 25, 1866 - Elections were held per Florida State Legislature to reorganize the Incorporation of the City of Tampa.

  • March 11, 1869 - The citizens of Tampa voted for the No Corporation People's Ticket to disenfranchise the City government.

  • August 11, 1873 - Citizens held a town meeting and voted to re-incorporate as Town of Tampa.

  • July 15, 1887 - City of Tampa organized under a special act of the Florida Legislature abolishing the governments of the Town of Tampa and Town of North Tampa and establishing the charter for the City of Tampa.

From City of Tampa Website
 

In 1888, the Jeter-Boardman Waterworks built Tampa's first pumping station at 6th Ave (a.k.a. Henderson St.) and Jefferson St, caddy-corner from the 2nd home of Hillsborough County High School which was established there in 1886.  Completion of the water system made possible an effective fire fighting organization. Prior to that time Tampa's firemen had been seriously handicapped by lack of an adequate water supply.

          

The 1889 maps above (with 1899 streets added) show Tampa's first pumping station. It consisted of a deep storage well and an iron storage tank on a 100 ft. high tower.  A detailed description of the equipment is provided below.

  
Manual of American Water-Works, Vol. 2, 1889-90

 

This 1892 map at left (with 1899 streets added) shows this first pumping station as already vacant ("vac.") because by this time, Tampa's second pumping station had already been built "Pumping  stat. 1/2 mile west" of there at the Magbee Spring.

 

This 1898 photo shows Hillsborough County High School's second home--at 6th Avenue & Jefferson Street. The photo was taken about 5 years after the high school had moved out and the building became the location of only the the grade school.
 

Jeter-Boardman would eventually build several pumping stations and a total of 45 wells, but there would be trouble ahead for them and the City.

DEVASTATING FIRES

Tampa suffered a series of disastrous fires during 1894. In addition to seven homes and three small business places, the Tampa Lumber Company's plant was completely destroyed on July 27 causing a loss of $40,000.  The fires emphasized the fact that Tampa's volunteer fire department and obsolete fire fighting equipment were entirely inadequate to provide proper protection.

Robert Mugge
From the personal collection of his great-grandson, Robert Muggee.

By the first decade of the 1900s, the Jeter Boardman Company and the city were inundated by complaints about hard water, inadequate expansion planning, high rates, and demands for improved service.  Damage from several fires was blamed on low water pressure.  A fire on May 23rd, 1905 destroyed a building on the northwest corner of Franklin and Caro [sic] (Carew) streets, belonging to noted Tampa businessman, Robert Mugge.  Mugge, who was primarily a liquor dealer, brought suit in the Circuit Court of Hillsborough County against Tampa Waterworks for failing to provide adequate fire protection, due to low water pressure, through a system that was supposed to be "First Class":

"...with a reservoir capable of holding 100,000 gallons of water, sufficient to give a pressure on the mains from a hydrant located at the intersection of Washington and Franklin streets, and through 100 feet of fire hose and a 1-inch nozzle, to throw a stream of water vertically to a height or distance of 50 feet, giving a first-class fire protection..."

The county court dismissed the suit, in favor of the Tampa Waterworks.  But Mugge took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Florida, where the judgment was reversed, "Error to Circuit Court, Hillsborough County, Joseph B. Wall, Judge.  Read about the details of the case.

The largest fire in Tampa's history occurred on March 1, 1908 in Ybor City. The massive fire was most likely caused by a carelessly tossed cigarette at the Antonio Diaz boardinghouse at 1914 12th Ave.


 

1908 Ybor City fire photos from the
University of Florida Digital Collections


The Florida Brewery can be seen in the distance, at center.

Due to some confusion in the 1908 blaze, firefighters didn't arrive for 45 minutes. The inferno destroyed 171 homes and 42 business including five cigar factories over 18 1/2 blocks. Losses from the 1908 fire exceeded $1 million, half of the losses were covered by insurance. Firefighters were hampered by low water pressure from the Tampa Waterworks. This problem became an issue in the aftermath, with critics questioning whether the private Tampa Waterworks utility favored its other customers at the expense of Ybor City. It was suspected that the waterworks had cut the water pressure because they felt they couldn't meet the demands of its paying customers.

Many residents who lost their homes and or their jobs, relocated to Key West to work in the cigar factories there. Ironically, many had just left Key West to relocate in Tampa.

This history of Tampa's water supply continues further down below at the MAGBEE SPRING after the following sections on the the Ybor Ice Works, the Florida Brewery at the Government Spring, and the Ybor "No Name" Spring.
 


THE YBOR ICE WORKS AND THE FLORIDA BREWERY AT GOVERNMENT SPRING
In 1894, the Ybor City Ice Works built two natatoriums (swimming pools) at the Government spring - one for whites and one for blacks. The pools were supplied with 10,000 gallons of spring water per hour.
 


 

These 1895 maps show the Ybor City Ice Co. with the newly added swimming pools, and the location of the Government Spring (label and arrow added to the map) in a pump house and marked "Artesian well."
 

Notice that the ice factory was a wood frame structure (yellow.)

 Sanborn Map Collection at the University of Florida Digital Collection

   

 

In 1896, with a capital stock of two hundred thousand dollars, Florida Brewing company was organized by Ybor City cigar industrialist and entrepreneur Eduardo Manara (who also organized the Exchange Bank of Tampa in 1894), E. W. Codington and Hugo Schwab.. The brewery building’s design was based on the plans of the Castle Brewery in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition, Manara underwrote the formation of the Tampa Gas Company which became Peoples Gas.

The two acre site chosen, at 5th Avenue and 13th Street in Ybor City, was near to the Government Spring on the east side of 13th St. across from the ice factory.

At this site, Indians had performed sacred rituals, generals had planned strategies for the Seminole Indian War, men were hanged there, and it even had served as a swimming and health resort.

Factory of the Florida Brewing Company at 1223 5th Avenue and 13th Street, copied from Tampa Tribune Midwinter Edition 1900: Tampa, Fla.
Burgert Brothers photo from the HCPLC

 

The pure spring water was a major influence in the purported excellent taste of the brewery's product. The site was also important in that it was next to the railroad which provided excellent shipping capabilities.


Image courtesy of the Swope Rodante law firm which now occupies this site.

The Ybor City Ice Works seen in these turn-of-the-century photos is not the original wood frame structure started by Snodgrass in 1884. These photos show this ice works building was part of the new brewery, made of brick or block, entirely on the west side of 13th St (the face with the ice works signage) and physically oriented in line with the brewery, parallel and perpendicular to the street grid.

The satellite image below shows the buildings of the 1895 map overlaid on the current area.  The site of the pump house for the Government spring is now located near to and under the edge of a parking lot on the east side of the new 13th Street, about 140 feet northeast of today's intersection of 5th Avenue and the streetcar tracks. 

Also shown is the Swope Rodante law firm in the old brewery outlined in red.  The site of the original 1884 ice factory is under the blue arrow.

Sometime between 1895 and 1899, the old wood frame ice factory and the pools were removed.  The "natatorium" became the site of a beer packing facility.  The red X shows where the ice factory was.

On the 1903 close up below, You can see the ice factory operations of the new brewery were carried on in the southeast area of the building at 13th St. and 5th Ave.  Notice the train tracks that came up from the south on 13th St. and between  the brewery and former site of the ice factory.

 

 

 

The 1899 map doesn't show the location of the Government spring but the description of the brewery states "No connection with City main, water from artesian well."

This sheet (18) of the map was drawn with north to the left, so the image at the right is rotated to view with north to the top.  Click the image at left to see a larger layout in the original orientation. 


The 1915 map below shows how 13th Street was shifted from its original location at the tracks between the new brewery and the old ice factory, at some time between 1903 and 1915.  The beer packing house now has become Tampa Wholesale Liquor & Wine Co., a brick building.  The blue dot indicates the general area of the former artesian well pump house originally used by the old ice factory.  Now in 1915 this area is a wooden carpenter & storage building.

 

Present view of former site of the original ice factory and Government Spring artesian well.

Place your cursor on the image to overlay labels
The street runoff water drain may have been placed to use the same drain as the spring.
 


THE "NO NAME" SPRING

Colonel Brooke referred to another spring a short distance from the Government Spring, but the name of this one is unknown. This small spring was said to have been at 10th Avenue and 16th Street. Its waters were visible until the late 1970s to early 1980s at 4th and 5th Avenues as it trickled toward the Ybor Estuary. Two magnificent buildings, El Centro Español and La Logia del Aguila de Oro, later known as the Labor Temple, were erected over the creek fed by this spring. Don Jose Acosta built his home over the spring’s source. Through the ensuing years the sidewalk and the street in front of the house continued to sink, a condition which forced Acosta to reinforce the foundations to his home with annoying frequency.

The first Sanborn map to show evidence of this spring is the 1895 map seen at right.  There is no indication of a spring source on any of the section details north of this section, up to the section that shows 10th Avenue and 16th Street, nor is there any indication of the creek north of this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1895 Close up - The creek appears to start under 7th Ave. in front of a grocery store and dwelling at 1514-1516 7th Ave.

 

 

 

1899 - On the map at right, the creek is again indicated as a "small stream," starting in the undeveloped property on the south side of 7th Ave, 1516 7th Ave. is labeled "American House," apparently a dining room.  No other section north of here show a spring or stream in 1899.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1903 - At left, still indicated as a "small stream" and starting at the same general area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1915 - At right, the stream is no longer indicated at 7th Ave., nor at 6th Ave.  Instead, it appears as a "ditch" at 5th Ave. southward. 1915 map below.

 

 

 

 

Neither the stream or ditch appear on the 1931 Sanborn maps.

 


TAMPA WATER WORKS AT MAGBEE SPRING (continued from "The Beginning of Tampa's Waterworks" above.)

This spring was named for a local judge named James T. Magbee, who used to own much of the property in Tampa Heights in this area.  Born in 1820 in Georgia, he came to Tampa in the late 1840s. He was a lawyer by profession, and in August 1868 Governor Harrison Reed appointed him judge of the Sixth Circuit Court. As a Republican official during Reconstruction, he often aroused public wrath by compelling white men to serve on the same juries with blacks.  Judge Magbee resigned his office in 1874 after impeachment proceedings for various charges were brought against him in the Florida Legislature.  Read more about Magbee and his escapades.

The Jeter-Boardman Waterworks Company also made use of the Magbee Spring at Highland Ave and Henderson St.

This 1899 map shows the City of Tampa's second pumping station which was located 1/2 mile west of Tampa's first pumping station.  Since the first station at Jefferson & Henderson was no longer in use, this one at the Magbee Spring on Highland and 6th (also known as Henderson Ave.) became Station #1.

Notice the oval marked "COVERED SPRING" to the left of the pumping station  Apparently, the spring source was on the east side of Highland Ave.  The unmarked inlet from the river at the left was where the Magbee Spring emptied into the river.

   

 

The City of Tampa was very progressive in its construction of steam powered pumping stations to bring fresh water to its citizens, as seen on this 1903 map. Construction of Tampa's third water works (#2) was already in progress, allowing the City to continue utilizing the water of Magbee Spring, and  increasing capacity to four million gallons per day over the second pumping station (#1).

 

   

In 1910 the Tampa Electric Streetcar Company built the hub of Tampa’s streetcar system just northwest of the area and this beautiful stretch of river quickly filled in with heavy industrial uses.

 


 

This 1915 Sanborn map above shows the location of the Tampa Water Works Co. pumping station in pink on the left with the spring pool (unlabeled) just below it.  Across Highland Ave.  was the old pumping station which was then used in emergencies.  Notice the large 3.5 million gallon, concrete-lined rectangular reservoir under construction. 

At right, close up from same map above. Notice the small circle with a dot to the right of "24", a 30-ft. tall concrete chimney which can be seen in the photo below.

Map images courtesy of the University of Florida
Smathers Library Sanborn Map Collection

 

 

 

 

 

The Tampa water works pumping station at 1804 Highland Avenue between 7th Avenue and Henderson Street, 1918.

The small structure to the left of the main building can be seen on the map close up above; it was an oil pump house.

Burgert Bros. photo from the digital collection of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

 

 

 

 


 


Ornamental landscaping and gravel paths at the Tampa water works pumping station on 1804 Highland Avenue between 7th Avenue and Henderson Street, 1919.
Burgert Bros. photo from the digital collection of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

 

In December of 1919 a devastating fire destroyed much of Tampa's waterfront along the Hillsborough River in the area of Washington St.

Burgert Bros. photo from the digital collection of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

 


1919 Waterfront Fire - Photo from USF Digital Collection, Burgert Brothers
(The collection has this photo incorrectly titled "Ybor City Fire")

   

In the 1920s, the Magbee spring was surrounded by a lily pond that was a fashionable spot for Sunday picnics.

   
Al Severson and Maudie in a rowboat at Tampa Water Works Park, 1925.
Severson was a photographer for the Burgerts
Burgert Bros. photos from the digital collection of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.
 

THE WATERWORKS ON THE HILLSBOROUGH RIVER

Even though the Tampa Waterworks Company continued to provide services for the entire length of their contract, in 1922 the city obtained the services of Nicholas S. Hill, Jr., an engineer from New York, to evaluate options for the future. 

The original Water Works filter house, completed in 1925, housed the core of the facility’s treatment process.  Burgert Bros. photo from the digital collection of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

After studying the matter for more than a year, Hill recommended that the city construct a modern filtration plant on the Hillsborough River, to be situated just upstream of Tampa Electric's power-generating dam.  The construction began in 1924.

Construction of this facility at 30th Street in Sulphur Springs  (the area, not the water source) replaced Tampa's third pumping station at the Magbee Spring but allowed the City to continue to utilize its water. It was built at the height of the Florida 1920s real estate Boom Times in 1925 and reflects the Mediterranean Revival style associated with the period.

Local Historic Designation: 2004
Architect: Nicholas S. Hills, Jr.
Builder: Gauger-Korsomo

 

 

The building is now part of the David L. Tippin Water Treatment facility, a 55-acre facility still in full operation. This facility houses Florida’s only municipally-owned drinking water laboratory. Today, the plant produces approximately 90% of the roughly 65 million gallons of water that is consumed per day by Tampa residents.

 

Most of Tampa's drinking water is treated surface water from the Hillsborough River. The river begins in the Green Swamp and winds its way through Tampa to Hillsborough Bay. In Tampa's Sulphur Springs area, the river reaches the Hillsborough River Dam. The Hillsborough River Reservoir, the stretch of river between the dam and the 40th Street Bridge, impounds more than 1 billion gallons of water. The reservoir holds Tampa's primary drinking water source, which is treated at the adjacent David L. Tippin Water Treatment Facility.

Treating Tampa's Water at TampaGov.net

The yellow rectangle at left marks the original waterworks filter house.  The red rectangle marks the original pumping station below.

 

 

Today, the original structure remains the core of a modern, high-tech water production facility that ensures a safe, reliable drinking water supply for Tampa residents, visitors and businesses.

 

TampaGov.net - Our Water Plant

 

To continue the history of the dam, see the video below, narrated by Jack Harris, starting at 17:10 time.  Some of the above history of the Jeter-Boardman Waterworks in Tampa comes from this City of Tampa video.
 

BACK TO THE MAGBEE SPRING WATERWORKS

By 1931 the original pumping station #1 at Magbee Spring had become a supply house for storage.


 


Elise Frank School of Art students painting at Water Works Park, 1804 Highland Avenue, 1948.
Burgert Bros. photo from the digital collection of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

A fish processing plant, a shipyard, a dredging operation and the City of Tampa’s Police Station and Maintenance Facility in the 1960s ultimately choked off access to the Hillsborough River for the surrounding neighborhoods and filled in the natural spring run.

The city had turned to other water sources and the neighborhood languished. By the 1970s, vagrants were living in the park and bathing in the spring, so the city fenced and padlocked the property.

The Dam Story: the story of the Hillsborough River Dam

City of Tampa video hosted by Jack Harris

Tampa's waterworks history starts at 14:56.

 
   

MAGBEE SPRING RENAMED ULELE

In February of 2002, after several years of political maneuvering, the Tampa Water Works building at 1805 N. Highland Ave. was designated a historically significant city landmark, saving it from demolition and qualifying the structure for rebuilding grants.


Photo from City of Tampa Government website - Local Historic Landmarks, Tampa

In November of 2006, Chris Longo, a 17-year-old Plant High School senior presented research on the Ulele/Ortiz history and Judge James T. Magbee, namesake of the spring at the water works, for his Eagle Scout designation project. His goal was to get the name of the Magbee Spring changed to Ulele Spring in honor of the daughter of the Timucuan tribal chief who lived during the 1500s.

“Ulele is a name people are becoming familiar with,” said Judge Chris Altenbernd of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, who inspired Chris Longo to lobby the city to name the spring in Ulele's honor. “It's a fun part of Tampa's history.”

As with the legend of the swashbuckling Jose Gaspar, historians differ on how much of Ulele's story is fact, how much is fiction and whether she existed at all.  “It seems clear this is a story passed on, possibly through many people, before it was written down,” Altenbernd said. “So who knows?” 

The spring’s first namesake was not as dignified as the Ulele story: James T. Magbee, a circuit judge who presided from 1868 until his forced resignation in 1875. Magbee owned the spring property and adjacent land, but the judge had a reputation for public drunkenness and other less-than-honorable deeds.

Images are excerpts from Chris's reports.

Should the alcoholic judge have his name remain on the lifeblood of Tampa’s first water source?

Longo wrote to the Tampa City Council.

 “Changing the name from Magbee Spring to Ulele Spring would put dignity back into the spring and would also establish the Spanish-American Indian connection in early America.” 

The city council agreed and voted to rename the spring. 

 

Nov. 15, 2006 letter from Boy Scouts of America Seminole Lodge #85, Order of the Arrow Lodge Adviser Jackson L. Morris to Mayor Pam Iorio urging her to take a favorable decision on Chris Longo's appeal.

"...While many place names in Florida remind us of the influences of our history of the Seminole peoples and Spain, there is little to recall the earlier peoples of our area--those who left only impressive shell mounds, mostly now destroyed, but no descendants to champion their cause and promote their memory.  Ulele Springs would be a fitting tribute to Florida's first inhabitants."

Seminole Lodge #85 Website

 

 

 

 

               
133 signatures supporting Chris's project
 

 

On Feb. 22, 2007, Tampa City Council changed the name of the spring from Magbee to Ulele Springs with the passing of this resolution, #2007-155, as proposed by Chris Longo's petition.

Click image to see it larger.

More about Judge Magbee here at TampaPix

See a video and read more about Ulele Restaurant at the TBO.com article by Jeff Houck.

Here's more about Christopher Longo.  He is a very talented young man!

Christopher Longo is an American tenor from Tampa, Florida, where he originally pursued a career in violin before switching to voice studies at Florida State University. Along with this season’s chorus work, he will sing in a number of concerts at the Sarasota Opera House and other venues performing in ensemble scenes as an Apprentice Artist.

Most recently, he was a Bonfils-Stanton Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera in Colorado, where he performed as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata and covered the role of Padre in Wasserman’s Man of La Mancha. With Eastman Opera Theatre he performed in the award-winning production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites as Chevalier de la Force, and covered George in Rorem’s Our Town. Of his Chevalier portrayal, the Democrat and Chronicle recognized that his "unperturbed purity of tone and precise pitch placement sharpened a strong dramatic presence.”

Mr. Longo holds a Master of Music degree in Performance and Literature for Voice from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Florida State University. At FSU his roles included The Prince in Rusalka, Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore, Frederick in Pirates of Penzance, Herr Vogelsang in Der Schauspieldirektor, and Orphée in Orphée aux enfers. His upcoming engagements include singing in the chorus and covering Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata in June 2018 for St. Petersburg Opera.

Bravissimo, Christopher, bravissimo!

 


 

RECREATING THE SPRING and REVIVING THE WATER WORKS BUILDING AS ULELE RESTAURANT

Tom Ries, President of the nonprofit Ecosphere Restoration Institute, would work diligently for years to recreate a natural landscape for the spring to enter the river.

John Moran (at left) discussing the history of the spring restoration, which has been years in the making, with Tom Ries, April 2014
Old Florida blog - Ulele Spring 2.0

When Ulele Spring was "re-discovered" next to the Tampa's old Water Works in 2006, Tom Ries of the Ecosphere Restoration Institute had to see it for himself. Hacking through dense growth that had gone unchecked for years, Tom discovered the spring boil just feet off North Highland Avenue near the heavy traffic of I-275. The spring dropped into a lower pool full of lily pads that surrounded a small island of palm trees and then the water disappeared. Marching in a straight line from where the run ended to the Hillsborough River, Tom found a pipe where the outflow entered the river. He looked down at the river, and he saw a manatee looking up, drawn by the crisp, clear water flowing from the spring. And that's when Tom started working on a plan to restore the spring, located within shouting distance of downtown Tampa.

 

Photos and info from Old Florida - blog by Rick Kilby

The main source of the spring seems to be under Highland Ave. according to this map.  A secondary spring can be seen just northwest of the main spring flow.
 

 

 

 

Tom Ries found another spring on this 1888 plat map of the area and found that it was located under the water works building and was being piped into the bay.  It's now being piped into the Ulele run, adding to the flow rate.

 

In 2010, a project was initiated by the Ecosphere Restoration Institute to recreate this natural spring run. Money to restore the spring came from a $50,000 federal grant, $50,000 from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and $50,000 from the city. The engineering and design portion of this project was funded, in part, through the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership’s NOAA Community-based Restoration Program. The water from the spring pool at that time was piped to the river, according to city parks spokeswoman Linda Carlo. The restoration eliminated  the pipe and created a basin where water could pool as it flowed to the river.  Approximately 500 feet of stream was restored and the spring ‘boil’ and associated ecosystem was also expanded in size and enhanced.

 

 

 


 

Below is a before/after view of the spring's cascade from the source pool leading to the basin.
Place your cursor on it to change it.

In April of 2011 Bob Buckhorn took office as Tampa’s 58th mayor after winning a runoff election with almost 63 percent of the vote.  Among his goals was to build on the success of the new Tampa Museum of Art and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, bringing more residents downtown and building cultural attractions in and around the downtown core.

On September 13, 2011, the newly-elected city council released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the acquisition (long-term lease or lease with option to purchase) and redevelopment of a portion of the Water Works Building as a café or restaurant. Columbia Restaurant Group, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and Water Works Enterprises all submitted a proposal for review. The responses were due Oct. 13, 2011 and can be viewed online at www.tampagov.net/pao.  A renovation of the building, along with a planned upgrade of the neighboring Water Works Park, was expected to energize Tampa Heights.

Richard Gonzmart
President & CEO of
Columbia Restaurant Group

The bid in January 2012 eventually went to the Columbia Restaurant Group, owner of seven Columbia restaurants in Florida, including the iconic founding location in Ybor City. The group bought a 20-year lease for $1 a year, with three subsequent renewable 20-year options.

Richard Gonzmart, president and CEO, argued passionately for his company’s proposal, drawing on his family’s ties to Tampa Heights. Among four other bids, the only other serious contender was from the owners of Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe in Seminole Heights.

More importantly, the Columbia bid won the support of the mayor, who believed the waterfront was underutilized and in need of restaurants.

 

Portions of the above are from Ulele, a restaurant for the next century, by Tribune Staff writer/photographer Jeff Houck, Aug. 10, 2014

Place your cursor on the old photos above and below to restore it into the beautiful Ulele Restaurant


 

On August 24th, 2017, the week of Ulele's 3rd anniversary, Ulele Restaurant shared this post and these photos on their Facebook page:

With only a few days until we celebrate our third anniversary on Saturday, it seems fitting to look back five years ago to the summer of 2012, when Ulele was more of an idea in fourth-generation Columbia Restaurant Group President and CEO Richard Gonzmart's mind than a restaurant and new riverfront gathering place for Tampa.

L to R, Casey Gonzmart, Bill Rain, Keith Sedita, Richard Gonzmart and Joe Harrington discuss the details of construction for Ulele Restaurant.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

In 2012, the red-brick building of Water Works No. 3 was still being used by the city of Tampa as a makeshift garage and storage facility. The roof was dilapidated. Windows were either malfunctioning or boarded to prevent intruders from living inside.

The exterior condition of Water Works No. 3 next to Ulele Spring was dilapidated to say the least.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

A burn mark scarred the concrete footer inside from where someone had made a campfire. The Tampa Riverwalk stopped just south of Kennedy Boulevard with a promise of extending north. Ulele Spring was choked with weeds and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of fresh into the Hillsborough River through an earth-covered pipe instead of the lagoon that stands today.

Where customers now enjoy dining with sunset views of the river on the building's west side, dumpsters once hauled away debris to make way for the renovation of Water Works No. 3.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

Demolition of the previous mezzanine inside Water Works No. 3 took far longer than expected due to the historic building's poor condition. Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

Once primary demolition was complete, secondary removal of structures inside the industrial building was possible.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

 

A burn mark on the concrete footer inside Water Works No. 3 shows where intruders built a campfire inside the wood-roofed structure.

Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook
 

Richard Gonzmart inspects the exterior manhole that leads to a system of water pipes and cisterns below the structure. Much of that system would need to be removed at great cost before construction could continue.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

The Water Works building had to be gutted to the shell and rebuilt from the inside out if it was to become Ulele.

 

Early architectural renderings of the entrance and staircase at Ulele.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

Columbia Restaurant President and CEO Richard Gonzmart suggests changes to the architectural drawings.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

The main dining room at Ulele needed to be cleared of debris before it could be created.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

The exterior of the then-109-year-old building needed a great deal of renovation.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

Overgrown and deserted land next door had yet to be remade into Water Works Park with a stage, boat docks, dog park and a public splash park for children.

The City of Tampa's schematic master plan for the renovation of Water Works Park.
Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook


 


A 2012 view of the park at the west end of the waterworks building - Photo by Tom Ries from the Southeast Aquatics website.
Area top of photo where the new spring basin would be constructed.

The City also solicited bids on a project to extend the Riverwalk at the park north to Seventh Avenue and south to Doyle Carlton Drive. Work started in the first quarter of 2012. City officials also worked on plans to add lighting and decorative fencing and restore Ulele Spring. 

Ulele Spring once emptied into the Hillsborough River from this seawall. Today, the Tampa Riverwalk extends to this spot and the spring empties into a tidal lagoon.  Photo and description by Ulele Restaurant on Facebook

 

Five years later, the award-winning, native-inspired restaurant and craft brewery located in Tampa Heights on the northern end of the Riverwalk is open for lunch, dinner and private events.  In 2014, Ulele earned a prestigious Golden Spoon Award from Florida Trend magazine. Earlier in 2017, OpenTable named it among the Top 100 U.S. Hot Spots for 2017. Ulele's success has become a catalyst for the revival of the historic Tampa Heights neighborhood where brothers Richard and Casey Gonzmart were born.

 


A view of the offices of the Beck Group, architects and construction team of the waterworks building.
Ulele Spring will soon will be a feature in Water Works Park, a stop along the Tampa Riverwalk.
By Elisabeth Parker, Times Staff Writer, photo by Skip O'Rourke - Friday, February 21, 2014


Feb. 2014 Tampa's old Water Works Building slowly transforms to Ulele restaurant - Tampa Bay Times
 


Construction on the new spring basin, April 2014
Old Florida blog - Ulele Spring 2.0


Construction on the new spring basin, April 2014
Old Florida blog - Ulele Spring 2.0


The Ulele Spring run to the Hillsborough River under restoration and soon ready for planting native plants later that month or in early June. Rains earlier in the month delayed the project.
Once-forgotten spring may soon flow again - BY LENORA LAKE Special Correspondent Published: May 21, 2014


 


Volunteers helped on May 10, 2014 with the removal of invasive species of plants and the planting of native ones at Ulele Springs,
Another planting was to be held in late May or early June.
Once-forgotten spring may soon flow again - BY LENORA LAKE Special Correspondent Published: May 21, 2014


Plan Hillsborough - River board supports Ulele Springs restoration

On August 12, 2014, the city celebrated the newly completed Water Works Park in historic Tampa Heights with a formal ribbon cutting at followed by a large festival in the park including commemorative fireworks on Saturday, August 16, 2014.

The 5-acre Water Works Park includes a play area modeled after a ship, splash pad, 8,500 sq. ft. dog run, performance pavilion, and open lawn for events. The Tampa Riverwalk was also extended to run throughout the park along the Hillsborough River. A kayak launch, eight boat slips and a water taxi stop will be installed once the permits are approved. Ulele Spring, formerly called Magbee Spring, was restored and opened to river. In addition to the park improvements and spring restoration, the City of Tampa leased the historic Water Works Building adjacent to the park to the Columbia Restaurant Group. Ulele represents a $5 million renovation of the former city pumping station.


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix

Today, Ulele's spring shines as the focal piece of the City of Tampa’s new Water Work’s Park along the Riverwalk and is a natural feature that is drawing visitors world-wide to the area and enhancing, not only the habitat for fish and wildlife, but providing positive economic and recreational opportunities for years to come.


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix

 


Photo by Tom Ries at SARP website below.

See the Southeast Aquatics Resources Partnership website for a detail and timeline of the whole project.

 


The Ulele Spring source, Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix
 


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix

Oct. 2015
Photos by TampaPix


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix

 


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix


Oct. 2015
Photo by TampaPix


Feb. 11, 2017
Photo by TampaPix


The Beck Group office building, Feb. 2017
Photo by TampaPix


Looking west towards the spring basin and the Hillsborough River, Feb. 11, 2017
Photo by TampaPix

 


Feb. 11, 2017
The pedestrian bridge over the spring run and the event pavilion.
Photo by TampaPix

 


Click map to view larger
Image from
Old Florida blog - Ulele Spring 2.0


 

James T. Magbee, at age 26, was the first attorney admitted to practice law in Tampa and was elected to serve as State Representative in the Florida House of Representatives by the age of 28, serving three terms from 1848 to 1854.  He was appointed twice as the Deputy Collector of Customs and Inspector of the Port of Tampa, first in 1855 and again in 1883.  He served as Senator in the Florida State Senate by age 40, from 1860 to 1862, and was appointed by Gov. Harrison Reed as Judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit of Florida in 1868. 

 

But he was notorious for public drunkenness, brawling, and his unconventional behavior on the bench, and he was despised by many in Tampa and the surrounding area for turning Scalawag during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. 

 

In 1870, he was the first Florida official ever to face impeachment for judicial misconduct, and after having his trial dismissed in 1871 and receiving an honorable discharge, he faced impeachment again in 1875, on charges all based on his drunken behavior.  He resigned rather than go to trial, and went on to publish The Guardian newspaper in Tampa until his death in Dec. 1885.

 

He was married three times, for a total of 35 years, having outlived his first two wives, and had no children of his own. But he wasn't devoid of some good will or charity; he and his 2nd wife adopted an orphaned boy from Scotland, donated land to the city for Oaklawn Cemetery, and at least once made a donation of gold coins to help a family who had lost their home and possessions in a fire.

 

Ever since his arrival in Tampa in the winter of 1845-46, he was at the forefront of controversy, and after he died suddenly in Tampa, there was even more controversy over his will and his estate.

 

These three features are currently in progress:

 


 

  

 

SOURCES

 

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