The images on this site are copyrighted and used by permission from John V. Cinchett.  They are not  to be reproduced without his permission.

Fred Astaire Dance Studio, 1957
Washington St. & Franklin St., looking north

This photo shows a section of Franklin St. rarely photographed during this time period.  This block is now occupied by the 38-story One Tampa City Center building.

Mouseover photo to see a close up of the businesses on the left.

Quinby Electric
Tillman Cleaning
Cannon Music

Downtown Franklin St. Storefronts, 1949

Looking west between Cass and Polk Street. This photograph was taken from in front of the Kress Building.

Kinney Educator Shoes
Walk-Over Bootery

Duval Jewelry Co., 1961
604 Franklin Street

Downtown Tampa, looking north along Franklin Street next to Maas Brothers, between Twiggs and Zack Streets.

Maas Brothers
Tampa Theater
National Shirt Shop

1941 Meeting at Duval Jewelry
1941 Employees and Family picnic
1955 Haber's Window Display

Britton Plaza Construction Sign, 1956

National chain stores advertised:
Publix Supermarkets
J.C. Penney
Britton Theatre
Neisner's Variety
Madison Drugs
Thom McAn
W.T. Grant Co.
Bellas Hess
Lerner Shops
Schiff Shoes
A.S. Beck
National Shirt Shops

Mouseover photo to see detail of Cinchett sign.

Britton Plaza history
1957 Publix clerk & store display
1959 courtyard stores
Present-day plaza archway sign
Britton Plaza New Look

Gulf Supermarket Grand Opening, 1957
Dale Mabry, south of Spruce Street

In the mid 1960s, this building was occupied by Kash n' Karry.  Best Buy and Wal Mart now occupy this area between Spruce St. and I-275.  (See Montgomery Wards below.)

Montgomery Wards Dept. Store, 1960
Dale Mabry, south of Spruce Street

This structure was built to adjoin the above original Gulf Supermarket building on the south end, which was occupied by Kash n' Karry at the time.  Later, in 1976, Wards would move into the new Tampa Bay Center Mall.

This area is now occupied by Wal-Mart, between Best Buy and I-275 on Dale Mabry.


Pickford's Sundries, 1955
2606 W. Hillsborough Avenue

Pickford’s Sundries was started in 1949 by  Casimir Lesiak.  The building pictured was built in 1952 by Casimir, his son, also named Casimir, and his son-in-law Frank Greco.  The drugstore was one of Tampa’s most well-known for over forty years and was one of the last family-owned drugstores of that era.  Since Lesiak was difficult to pronounce, Casimir named it after silent film star Mary Pickford. “He admired her because she was an independent woman,” remembers Marie Lesiak-Haley, the younger Casimir's daughter and building owner.  It closed more than a 10 years ago and fell into disrepair and ruin. But its mystique never died. A local bluegrass band named themselves after it.  And now, Pickford's has been resurrected as Custom Creations Café & Bakery, owned by Michelle DiMicco.

Pickford's before & after restoration

Click to enlarge

Golden Brown Diner
(Later became the Rentz Diner)
2004 E. Hillsborough Avenue

In March of 1955, the Golden Brown Diner opened at Hillsborough Avenue and 20th Street across from Holsum Bakery.  The Rentz Family bought it from Mr. Brown and soon moved this diner a few blocks down Hillsborough Avenue to make room for the new Sears & Roebuck store that would open in 1958 on that block.   Bob and Lou Ella Rentz reopened the diner in 1956 as the Rentz Diner at the corner of 17th Street and Hillsborough Avenue.  The Rentz family also ran the popular Seminole Heights diner that became a third-generation family legacy when their grandchildren-Brenda, Randy, Bret and Mark Fowler all worked there in the 1970s. The Rentz Diner was a local favorite for 30 years and many long-time Seminole Heights residents fondly remember the friendly caring service of The Rentz family, most especially Doris Rentz-Fowler, who had a real passion for her Father’s diner.

Cinchett Neon Sign Company made the neon signs for Brown’s Diner in 1954 and Rentz Diner when it was moved in 1956. The diner closed in 1986.

Bob Rentz also owned Rentz Roofing, another Seminole Heights success story that actually continues today.  Mr Rentz' son-in-law, Morris Swope, started out in the roofing business with him in 1950 and still operates Tampa Roofing Company, yet another family-owned success story for Seminole Heights ! Congratulations to Tampa Roofing on their 60th Anniversary this year.