This feature is in the process of being updated.



This feature is a break-out page from the history of Hillsborough County High School's fifth location here at TampaPix




After the school moved out, this building became the subject of numerous complaints due to the stench of sewage from under the building.  Many wanted it condemned and torn down, but the post office was still operating from there.  The problem was soon fixed and the building continued leasing space to businesses and the U.S. Post Office.

A portion of the building was leased to businesses, while the majority of it was to be leased as a hotel.

In early Nov. 1905, Maj. Charles Wright named his hotel the "Hillsboro" and leased it to Bradentown (now Bradenton) businessman J. L. Tallevast.  The hotel opened with much publicity and expectation on Nov. 15, 1905 with Fred H. West, formerly of the Tampa Bay Hotel, as chief clerk.








In 1904 the Post Office moved into the new Federal Building.  Major Wright then planned to remodel and "practically rebuild" the 2-story building to convert it into a hotel


On Nov. 10, 1904, the Tribune announced that work had begun on the Wright block under the supervision of contractor J. M. Eddings. 


The newly refurbished, rebuilt Wright building had its first tenant moving in by mid-May of 1905.



The new building was to have a portion leased to businesses, and the rest serve as a hotel.  This article mentions "Large courts occupy the center of the building, and the rooms open upon these as well as upon the street."  In October, J. L. Tallevast of Bradentown (now Bradenton) was negotiating with Wright for the hotel lease.

Major Wright named his new hotel "The Hillsboro."  It was leased by J. L. Tallevast of Manatee Co. and opened on Nov. 14, 1905.


Major Wright's first Hillsboro Hotel circa 1906 - 1911
Image courtesy of the University of South Florida Hampton Dunn Collection of Florida Postcards






In late 1911 to early 1912, Tallevast, along with his partners R. L. Hall of Ocala, and L. B. Skinner of Dunedin, (The "Hillsboro Hotel Company") the chief stockholders, began construction on an 8-story concrete, steel and fireproof plaster hotel on the north side of the Royal, at the southwest corner of Twiggs & Fla. Ave.  It would measure 100 ft. square and  "...have 108 guest rooms of the most modern fashion, the Best in Dixie."  The plans were to complete the construction by early April, and soon demolish the old Hillsboro in Maj. Wright's building and then build a twin structure, slightly larger, to the new Hillsboro on that property, to join with it.

Construction ran behind schedule, and the hotel partially opened on July 3, not completely finished, but with a "Handsome grill room" in the basement, barber shop,  pool room, telegraph office and 8th floor dining room with a rooftop garden adjacent to it.  The guest rooms would not open until installation of telephones and the switchboard was completed.



The original 8-story fireproof block Hillsboro Hotel, 1914.
Image from "Tampa Today & Tomorrow" by the Tampa Board of Trade, at Internet Archive.

In Aug. 1912, Wright leased the old 3-story Hillsboro to George D. Kronenberg of Tampa, who would renovate it and operate it "on the European plan," under the name of the Hillsboro Hotel Annex, with 64 rooms, to be opened around Oct. 1.  The west end, formerly a cafe, was leased to Eugene Griffith who planned a movie/vaudeville theater there opening by September.  The plan was that in 19 months, the site would be demolished, and a twin hotel to the new Hillsboro, but even larger, would be built on the property.






In late Feb. of 1914, J. L. Tallevast awarded a contract to McGucken & Hyer, to expand the new Hillsboro as planned. The design was being drawn by architects Bonfoey & Elliott, but the construction had to wait until April when the lease ran out on the old Hillsboro Hotel Annex, which was then  operating as the Royal Hotel.


Circa 1914 postcard courtesy of the Hampton Dunn postcard collection at the University of S. Florida Library digital collections.


Below is from A History of the City of Tampa, etc, 1950, by Karl Grismer, p.237-238.

Tampa's sky line was jabbed by skyscrapers for the first time in 1912 when the eight story, 320-room1 Hillsboro Hotel was completed and two ten-story giants were started, one for Robert Mugge and the other for the Citizens Bank & Trust Company, headed by John Trice.

The Hillsboro, then the largest commercial hotel in Florida, was built by a company headed by Lee B. Skinner, a native of Wisconsin who came to Florida in 1883, located at Dunedin , and made a fortune in the citrus industry.  The hotel was started late in 1911 and opened in July, 1912.   Associated with Skinner in the project were "Major" Charles Wright, one of the best known men of Tampa, and J. L. Tallevast, who had become wealthy dealing in naval stores in Manatee County.

Wright had built a two-story concrete block building on Madison just north of the courthouse many years before. Cone's Livery Stable was located on the ground floor and, in the late Nineties, the county had its first high school overhead, on the second floor. The TAMPA TIMES also had its home in the building at one time and so did the post office.2 

The Hillsboro, situated just north of the Wright Building, filled a long-felt need in Tampa. Prior to its erection, the principal hotel open the year round was the DeSoto, built in 1892-93 by Capt. R. F. Webb and Walter Parker. Designed by J. A. Wood, the architect who had planned the Tampa Bay Hotel and the county courthouse, it was topped by Moorish domes and minarets which Wood favored and was adorned by rambling wooden porches and stately marble columns in the lobby.3  However, the De Soto lacked modem bathroom facilities and the Hillsboro became Tampa's leading hotel, immediately upon completion. Later the De Soto was modernized and enlarged. Robert Mugge, builder of one of the first ten-story skyscrapers Robert Mugge, was a large, blond German who came to Tampa in 1884 and made a fortune in the wholesale beer and liquor business.

[A paragraph on Mugge's achievements has been omitted here.]

Mugge first planned his skyscraper for use as a warehouse.  But before it was completed he changed his mind and decided to turn it into a hotel. On each floor there was a large, ornately decorated lounge. Said  Mugge "The way I've got it figured out, this hotel is a cross between a YMCA and a ten-story bar room."  When opened the hotel was called the Bay View.

1 The Hillsboro Hotel completed in 1912 was NOT a 320-room hotel. In 1912 the first phase of the Hillsboro was completed with 124 guest rooms.  Over the years, this number has varied.  When the 2nd phase was completed in late December 1916, both phases of the conjoined hotel in total boasted "250 rooms, an increase of 140 rooms" giving a room count of 110 for the first phase.

2Grismer has combined the history of two different buildings into one.  The Wright building that the Post Office, High School, Livery Stable and Times printing office were in was a 2-story BRICK building.  Wright's concrete block building was 3 stories and replaced the brick 2-story Wright building in 1905.  For about 9 years it operated as the Hillsboro Hotel Annex, then for a short time as the Royal Hotel.

3This writer sees no evidence of the De Soto ever having domes or minarets. The first one built of wood appears on Sanborn maps starting in 1895.



Sometime around 1910 the old wood frame De Soto was torn down and a new one was built of brick  Still no minarets or domes.




The DeSoto was demolished in 1955.  No minarets or domes were ever found.  Maybe Grismer was thinking about the old 1892 courthouse or the Tampa Bay Hotel.





In mid-April of 1914, Tallevast, entered into a deal with Wm. LeDuc to build a six to ten-story hotel on "the most valuable corner in Tampa," Lafayette St. and Tampa Street.  The property at the time was occupied by a very popular restaurant, the Dairy Kitchen, which had been operating there for 14 years.  J. R. Mickler's grocery store, and a barber shop were also situated on the property. Word was that Tallevast had given up plans for the Hillsboro Hotel addition for this year, as some of the others in the Hillsboro company opposed the expansion for this year, moving the plan to 1915.

In late April, 1914, Rich Hall of Ocala, who owned a large interest in the Hillsboro, revealed that Tallevast had transferred his majority  stock interest to L. B. Skinner, making  Skinner the majority stockholder, and so the Hillsboro plans were put off until next year.   Tallevast would neither confirm or deny the statement, and placed a veil of secrecy on the Hillsboro plans.  Hall was quoted as saying, that if Tallevast continued with his plans with LeDuc for the hotel at the Dairy Kitchen site, it is probable that the Hillsboro directors would seek a new manager for the Hillsboro.

Eventually, in 1916, the Hillsboro Hotel was expanded, taking over the Royal Hotel and the whole block on the west side of Florida Ave.  Construction was essentially finished on Dec. 10, 1916.


More on this period will be added later.


If you arrived here from a search, go to the History of Hillsboro High school click here.

Otherwise, just close this window.