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Henry B. Plant Museum

Henry B. Plant Museum
The Henry B. Plant Museum is located in the south wing of Plant Hall on the University of Tampa's campus, located at 401 West Kennedy Boulevard in … See more


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Jan 1, 2023
I cannot say enough about how beautiful this location is!! Please be sure to stop by and scan your phone to complete the tour. You will learn so much about the location, the beautiful former hotel, … Full review by LoveUFLoveFLA
Oct 7, 2022
This museum with the downloadable tour was totally awesome in my humble opinion. The structure of the buildings is amazing. It is not a large museum, but we also walked through several areas of the… Full review by 449robinb
Aug 17, 2022
Decided to visit the Museum during our visit to Tampa a few weeks back. We visited on a weekday, so it wasn’t crowded at all, not sure how it would be on weekends. It has entrance fee of $12 but t… Full review by Anshita_S


Contemporary Extravagances
Henry Bradley Plant spent the 1880s building up a network of railroad and steamship lines that both terminated in Tampa, then a sleepy and sparsely populated fishing village prone to yellow fever epidemics. To bolster this inauspicious nexus of his transportation empire, he built one of the most magnificent hotels in Victorian America: the Tampa Bay Hotel, which today houses the Henry B. Plant Museum and University of Tampa. Opened in 1891, the Tampa Bay Hotel was the crown jewel in the so-called Plant System, which included trains that rolled into Tampa from wealthy Northern locales, as well as steamers that departed Tampa Bay for Cuba, Jamaica, Bermuda, and Mobile. The hotel was designed to appeal to the well-traveled holiday makers of the age and represented the height of opulence. The Moorish Revival building sprawled over six acres and fully outfitted with contemporary extravagances like electricity, telephones, and Florida’s first elevators. The project was so ambitious that Plant was unable to secure investor funding, instead spending $3 million of his own money on the construction and furnishing of the hotel. The hotel was decorated with luxury items personally collected by Mr. and Mrs. Plant from Europe and Asia. The grounds spread over 150 acres, and included a Grand Salon, a Music Room with regular live performances, a Dining Room with lavish formal dinners, extensive gardens, a golf course, tennis courts, hunting and fishing facilities, a heated swimming pool, a spa, a bowling alley, stables, a race track, and a 2000-seat casino. Outside of a stint as a base of military operations during the Spanish-American War that brought international significance, the Tampa Bay Hotel hosted guests from December to April until the Great Depression forced its closure in 1930. By then owned by the city, the hotel became the home of the Tampa Bay Junior College in 1933, with the south wing being preserved as the Tampa Municipal Museum to showcase the history of the building and the intertwined story of the city. In 1974, the Tampa Municipal Museum became the Henry B. Plant Museum, which seeks to provide a faithful interpretation of the hotel in its heyday, as well as the general environment of late Victorian tourism and concurrent early days of Tampa. The exhibits primarily consist of original furnishings and artifacts that filled the hotel when it began welcoming Florida’s first vacationers and snowbirds.
The Crown Jewel of the Eight Resorts
While Henry Flagler was building railroads and hotels along Florida's east coast, Henry Plant was doing the same on the state's west side. The Henry B. Plant Museum is situated in what is now Plant Hall on the University of Tampa's campus. The building was once Plant's Tampa Bay Hotel. The Tampa Bay Hotel opened in 1891 at the end of Henry Plant's rail line. The resort was the crown jewel of the eight resorts that Plant planned to build around his various rail lines. It covered six acres and featured the first-ever elevator installed in a building in Florida. It had 511 rooms, each with electric lights and telephones, also a first in the state. During the Spanish-American War, the hotel was used by the military as an operations base. Many enlisted men camped on the grounds, while high-ranking officials stayed in the rooms. Colonel Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders even stayed at the hotel. The hotel fell on hard times along with the rest of the nation during the Great Depression. After a brief closure in the 1930s, it was opened as the Tampa Bay Junior College's home, which later expanded to become the University of Tampa. The south wing of the building is currently set aside to preserve the Tampa Bay Hotel's glory days. Much of the hotel's artifacts, including European and Oriental artwork and collectibles imported by Mr. and Mrs. Plant themselves, are on display. Why You Should Visit The museum now hosts a variety of artifacts from the period, in addition to the building itself. You'll find exhibits on the Spanish-American War, Plant's railway and steamship lines, and the sports and adventures that drew tourists to Florida during the Gilded Age. The Henry B. Plant Museum is on the US Register of Historic Places and is a US National Historic Landmark. Tips - Don't forget to check out the impressive grounds surrounding the former hotel, now known as Plant Park. - Be sure to get the audio tour on your phone for a self-guided tour of the museum. Operating hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm


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Data from: Wikipedia · TripAdvisor · Frommers
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